It’s hard to say exactly what it is about Pudding Monsters that makes it so addictive and so easy on the eyes, since it scores high marks all around. You could chalk it up to slick 3-D graphics, the cute characters, the smooth animation, the pleasantly quirky sound effects, and of course, the simple-yet-not-so-simple puzzles.
But really it’s the balance of all of the above that makes the game such a winner. Like my favorite Pixar films that I can watch over and over, Pudding Monsters is a game that makes me smile every time I play.
Pudding monsters are blobs of assorted colors, each with a single large eyeball. Various pudding monsters may also feature mouths, mustaches, flower pots, hats, buttons, diamond rings and other accoutrements that provide insight into the lives of the gelatinous beings.
The backstory for these little balls of goo is that their fellow blobs are being stolen out of the fridge, and so they want to save themselves from certain doom. To do so, they have to stick together in order to make their way through some pretty serious puzzles. The different levels are grouped into episodes, which have the monsters first escaping from the fridge, then the room and then the neighborhood.
The gameboard is a grid. Three squares are occupied by stars, and a varying number of other squares are occupied by pudding monsters. The monsters can be moved vertically or horizontally on the gameboard with a flick of the finger.
Note, though, that a flick doesn’t move a monster just one square in your chosen direction; the monster will move in the direction you send it until it comes in contact with something that stops it … or until it slides off the board. (Achieving the latter will restart the level.)
Your goal is to strategically move the pudding monsters so that each star on the gameboard is ultimately occupied by a pudding monster. This means you can achieve one to three stars per level, and you need at least one star in order to progress to the next level. And when a pudding monster comes in contact with another pudding monster, they merge into one giant shape-shifting serving.
The stars’ locations change every level, as does the cast of characters and random objects the gamemakers put in your path. For example, items like logs, toolboxes, blocks of ice, food and furniture that are scattered around will stop your pudding monster as it slides across the gameboard.
While you could consider those to be obstacles, you have to think of them more as tools you can incorporate into your strategy. Fling pudding monsters into these obstacles in order to better position them on the board without them sliding off of it. Now you can fling even more of their gelatinous brethren into them to create a big blob and capture as many stars as possible.
Blobs aren’t different colors just for vanity or variety; the color of the monster indicates its special characteristics. While orange-colored pudding monsters are the basic model you start with, you’ll encounter special monsters along the way.
For example, green pudding monsters leave trails of green goo when you move them, and other monsters that come into contact with the goo will stick to it, rather than continue sliding across the gameboard. Purple pudding monsters, on the other hand, move as a single unit on the board; so if you move one, you effectively move them all.
Levels get increasingly more convoluted (in a good way), with lots of new challenges (the one-way-only tiles are fun), and require more time to master.
In settings you can mute the soundtrack or the sound effects, or both; change the language; or reset the game. From the Pudding Monsters home screen, you can also connect the game to Facebook and view your achievements on Game Center.
If you’re the kind of player who likes to think puzzles through all the way before solving them in one fell swoop, you can do that with Pudding Monsters. Or, if you would rather actively use the process of trial and error, the restart button accommodates for that kind of player, too. And I appreciate that balance, since sometimes I want to take my time solving a level, and other times I just want to fling pudding monsters into each other to create big blobs with eyeballs (oh admit it, you do too).