What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game about a cute, colorful creature who eats invading space pirates (shaped like fruits and vegetables) is possessed of only mild cartoon violence. Munched enemies disappear without so much as a squeak or a drop of blood -- or juice, as the case may be. There is, however, a bit of toilet humor. At the end of each level our hero appears to poop out hundreds of glowing orbs. Players also see gleaming, brightly colored objects shaped much like swirled turds. The game has a nice help mechanic where another player can come in to help shoot big "Boss" pirates into smaller, munchable pieces.
What's it about?
THE MUNCHABLES, a quirky Japanese platformer, concerns a colorful creature whose sole interest seems to be eating. Lucky for him, then, that the evil galactic space pirates currently taking over his planet are shaped mostly like fruits and vegetables. He sets out on a quest to rid his world of these invaders, and he does it by eating the star-faring swashbucklers by the dozen. Each level sees our hero eating hundreds of enemies, growing in size and ability all the while. Most foes can be swallowed whole, but some need to be bashed once and broken into smaller, easier to munch bits. Environmental features, such as vines, fences, and ponds can help or hinder our protagonist, but he often swells to such a huge size by the end of a level that he can simply go wherever he likes without worrying about any obstacles or needing any assistance. Players are awarded a score based on their performance after each level, and can unlock various items, such as glasses, a Mohawk, or a headdress, to bedazzle their munchers.
Is it any good?
As platformers go, The Munchables is decidedly fresh. Your ever-growing avatar vaguely recalls Katamari Damacy's perpetually swelling balls, but not enough to feel truly derivative. And it's fun, too. Running around and munching up enemies is oddly habit forming, and there is an undeniable bit of satisfaction and thrill each time our hero grows in size and becomes capable of eating even larger enemies. Plus, for younger players, a friend or parent can help with the stronger opponents by picking up a 2nd controller and shooting at the pirates to break them into smaller, munchable bits.
What's more, it looks and sounds great. The visual aesthetic is distinctly Japanese, consisting of bold colors, bizarre character models, and highly stylized environments that sometimes feel almost like strange and interesting microcosms of flora. The music, meanwhile, switches between recognizable classical melodies rendered in Baby Einstein-ish harpsichord, merry-go-round ditties, and traditional but frenetic video game euphony. It's a bit short, alas, but most of the levels are so much fun that it's almost unthinkable that kids wouldn't want to head back and play them again.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the game’s use of mildly dirty humor. The allusion to poop makes sense, given that our hero spends all of his time eating, but is it necessary? What does it add to the game? Did it make you laugh? Would the game have been as much fun without jokes that referenced bodily functions, or are these bits of humor one of the things that give The Munchables its own unique flavor and appeal?