ZeptoLab, creator of the incredibly popular game Cut the Rope, just released its newest game yesterday, called Pudding Monsters, and as you can guess, it's just as addictive. I played the 99-cent game on an iPhone, but there's also an HD version for iOS and Android tablets, as well as a free Android version that includes ads.
The premise of the game is that you combine little pieces of pudding to make bigger pudding monsters, capable of fending off humans who want to eat them. You'll first help them escape from the kitchen, where they have been (carelessly and wastefully) laid out on a table, to the living room, and out to the neighborhood.
Pudding pieces collide and stick together and you move them by sliding them across the screen. As always, though, there's a catch: unless they run into each other or another sort of obstacle like a book or a coffee cup, the pieces will slide right off, causing you to fail the level.
To pass a level with the least amount of energy and thought, you just have to get all the pudding pieces on the table to stick together. But the real challenge is to get the whole pudding monster in a certain area of the playing field to cover stars that have been laid out on the field. Do this and you'll pass the level with the maximum number of points.
Along the way, you'll run into different kinds of objects and puddings that have different characteristics to help you in your quest. For example, blocks of ice that have been left lying around (seriously, who does the cleanup around here?) work as one-time-use obstacles that will break into bits once a pudding runs into them. There's also a cloning machine that produces even more pudding every time a little monster goes through it.
There are also puddings that leave a trail of sludge when you slide them across the field. Although it sounds pretty disgusting, their trail will help you stop other nonslimy pieces of pudding from sliding off. And if you see sleeping pieces of pudding (read: lazy puddings that aren't pulling their weight for the overall cause), you won't be able to move them. You'll need to use movable pieces to slam into them to get them going. Another kind of pudding moves in unison with others, signified by their hypnotizing eyes. You'll have to be extra-careful with these because if you slide one, you'll slide them all.
Like Cut the Rope, the game is colorful, well designed, and challenging. Though the graphics are relatively simple, small details in the puddings' design (like mustaches and tiny hats) lend the game a polished look.
In addition, puddings that aren't being moved will watch the ones that are, and some will even react or frown if another slides off. And during idle times, they'll begin to sway back and forth. Small movements like this keep the game animated and interactive, though at times it just feels like they're judging you with their little pudding eyes for not figuring out the level fast enough.
Speaking of figuring out the levels, the game does indeed get hard. As each new character with different stipulations and objects is added, you'll get freebie "explainer levels" that are intuitive enough to help you understand your new task. But once you pass them, each level gets more delightfully challenging.
If you get really stumped, though, you can purchase a mushroom boost (six for $1.99, up to 50 for $9.99), which will let you reproduce your pudding pieces to make it easier to level up. Frankly, though, the whole point of the game is to think it through, so don't waste your money getting these boosts.
The game supports eight languages, including German and French, and has tie-ins with its Facebook page and iOS' Game Center. Settings include turning off the music or sound and resetting the game. During my time with it, the app quit unexpectedly once, but other than that, it runs extremely smoothly.
Currently, Pudding Monsters has three levels, with 24 stages each. New levels are reportedly coming soon and you can sign up for alerts when they're added. I recommend waiting a bit until more levels come, since I imagine you could get through these three levels in under a day with heavy gameplay. Don't get me wrong, though. This is a fun and casual game that you can easily spend hours playing without realizing it. But when these levels come in, it'll be worth your money.