Ubisoft has been relatively slow to adopt the Windows Phone format as suitable for internal development. While they’ve had no qualms with allowing third-parties to bring their existing franchises to the mobile platform, their own development has been limited. The recent release of Babel Rising 3D saw the start of a shift in perceptions however, and the forthcoming Monster Burner looks set to push this new perspective even further.
Ubisoft has long had a reputation for being an experimental publisher, willing to try new formats and new delivery systems from the off, and so their reluctance to invest in Windows Phone has been more surprising than with most other large videogame houses. However, the fact that Monster Burner is being proposed as an experiment in itself is not. Expected to launch as a free-to-play videogame on both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 handsets, Monster Burner is a fully featured Xbox LIVE title with all the bells and whistles such branding offers: Achievements, leaderboards and the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
A very simple design, Monster Burner sees enemies march from the top of the screen to the bottom as the player slides their finger up the screen to launch fireballs at them. In what could easily be considered a modern implementation of classic Space Invaders gameplay, players are encouraged to hit chains of enemies to earn multiplier bonuses. Doing so will offer significant rewards, including additional coins which can be spent on new abilities, for example a firewall that can be drawn with two fingers and a time slowing function. As a free-to-play videogame, Ubisoft is intending to monetise Monster Burner by way of encouraging players to purchase additional coins with Microsoft Points (initially purchased with real world currency, of course) but if such a plan is to come to fruition there will surely have to be an addictive progression system to warrant such investment.
A brightly coloured and charmingly animated videogame, Monster Burner most certainly fits the bill of being an accessible videogame experience in which throwing away a few minutes here-and-there – and therefore, a small amount of sterling – is looking to become an enticing option. The videogame’s social media roots are obvious, but this is no bad thing given the option to directly connect to Facebook and Twitter, thus encouraging your friends to join you on the Xbox LIVE leaderboards. It’s a cunning design born of market research and pioneering attitudes rather than the desire to break new ground, but Monster Burner looks set to offer positive results nonetheless.