The outer-space Vampire known as `The Duke` is less than impressed. His castle has been broken into, his Princess has been taken. Worst of all this doesn’t appear to be down to some stereotypical sword wielding do-gooder. The Duke knows that Monsters
definitely most likely probably stole her, and being a vampire who thinks of action first and words later, he isn’t about to sit around wasting time trying to figure out who’s taken her. Instead he decides to pay his Monstrous neighbours a speedy visit, chasing them down until he finds the one responsible.
The action takes places over a selection of levels which sees the player, controlling the fearsome Duke, bursting in on different monsters and giving chase until he catches them. This is done by jumping upwards through the vertically scrolling levels till they catch up and then performing a double jump into them three times. On the third strike The Duke will catch hold, barrelling downwards in a devastating Spinning Piledriver that would put Final Fight’s Mike Haggar to shame. Bonus points are awarded for the number of platforms that are hit on the way up without missing or stopping, and these combos rack up the points at the end of the level once The Duke has flattened his prey.
There isn’t much more to the gameplay mechanics of Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess, and when it’s written down like this it does the game a real disservice to strip it back to its base components. The games undeniable charm is in its presentation and where the extra effort that’s been poured in really elevates it – everything from the lovely cartoon style and colourful character designs, right through to the slightly manic style of humour. In the same way that characters by The Behemoth (the people behind Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid) are always a joy to behold, here it’s also hard not to be totally enthralled with Mediatonic’s designs, referencing everything from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu to Spirited Away’s No-Face. If you don’t end up chuckling at the cocky, blind arrogance of The Duke himself as he runs around being a bit of a jerk, then it’s hard not to be touched by the little incidental details like one of the monsters not actually hiding the Princess as The Duke bursts in to his den, but instead trying to squirrel away a surprise birthday present.
If Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess has any flaws for its asking price, they’re actually caused by the minis format more than anything. The style and ideas behind the game are so engaging that you end up lamenting its short nature which leaves you wanting more. With the idea behind the game being to rack up the highest score possible, the lack of any online leader boards hurts it a little and you get the feeling that there could have been so much more done with the character and colourful ideas. However there are some meta-games built in for performing certain actions and it will take a dedicated player to crack them all, meaning an ongoing challenge for those who are so inclined.
As it stands, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is a great showcase for the minis format. Despite being short, its bite sized nature makes it perfect to play in short bursts, even if the style and humour demand it be given a much bigger game. Here’s hoping we’ve not seen the last of The Duke or his monstrous companions.