I met the CEO of Nukutoys at Gen Con and was immediately enthralled by the premise of Monsterology. It’s essentially a card game for the iPad and iPhone. The game is an isometric view of terrain with a series of playing pieces, signified by cards, in a virtual environment. Players collect monsters in blind booster packs of three. The players slaps the card onto the device and, thanks to a special ink, it recognizes the monster and inserts it into the game. This is the new world of collectible card games, merging the digital and the physical.
Monsterology is pretty straightforward. You summon monsters to attack other monsters and conquer the opposing team’s territory. Each monster has a melee or ranged attack, defense, and move rate. You select the creatures you will use from your deck (which in turn was selected from the number of collectible packs you purchased and entered into the system) and then go to war.
You can pinch or zoom into the expansive environments to get a better perspective. You tap a creature to move it. Tapping a creature gives it a move radius or an attack radius, and tapping in those colored circles moves or attacks the opposing creature. In theory, anyway.
The creatures and landscapes are beautifully rendered and accompanied by a stirring orchestral theme. The intercut artwork is drawn from the Monsterology series of books, a sort of pseudo steampunk world of Victorian-era explorers and big game hunters. You hop from continent to continent with your creatures, capturing flags from the opposing team and moving up in rank.
Monsterology’s biggest flaw is the interface itself. There are some cards I simply can’t get recognized by my iPad 2, but perhaps that’s a function of the older hardware. There are also several clipping bugs, like when you accidentally place a catapult on top of a yeti. You unfortunately do not end up with a catapult-carrying yeti, but rather a bug in which you can only fire the catapult and can’t move the yeti. There were several times where I had to restart the game because it locked up.
Still, Monsterology has tremendous promise. The catapult, for example, is pulled backward and aimed with a different motion than the other pieces, which makes it really feel like a catapult. Most of the other creatures are pretty straightforward, but the game does get credit for including the bonacon as a creature. You know, the bonnacon, whose claim to fame is its highly caustic, flaming poo.
It’s early in the games development, so Monsterology still has plenty of growing to do. Once it gets the bugs fixed I’m hoping it will be a foundational work in the evolution of card games in a digital world.
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