Not sure how to classify Monster Burner. It's kinda sorta like a fantasy medievalist interpretation of Space Invaders. But it has another whacky dynamic at play, deeply rooted in puzzles, dominoes and fireworks.
How does it play?
As the title implies, your job to burn monsters. They charge down the screen in various formations, and you flick fireballs at them and burn them to a cinder. You have two gauges to keep an eye on, your life-bar and your power-bar.
If you chuck fireballs willy nilly, your power-bar will quickly run out, and you'll be left defenceless against the encroaching hoard. It replenishes itself slowly, but the better solution is to wipe out five or more monsters in a combo, which causes them to drop potions that provide instant top-ups. It's a self-perpetuating cycle.
The further you progress in the game, the more elaborate your combos can become, sometimes killing as many as 30+ beasties with a single fireball. It becomes a perverse game of dominoes, watching one monster after another crumble into cinders thanks to one well timed fireball.
More complications: different beasties react in different ways. There's the bogstandard cannon fodder beastie, which can be wiped out in one go. But there's also beasties that wear armour, requiring two hits, or they can absorb your fireball, stopping your combo dead in its tracks.
Elsewhere, a gaggle of bubble-headed princesses have somehow strayed into the monster parade, and if you kill them then you'll be docked a heart from your life-bar. Your carefully orchestrated combos have to be forestalled, for fear of harming them, or you take the hit to your life-bar and kill them anyway. It's entirely your call.
Why do we like it?
Monster Burner is very well put together. The graphics are hand-drawn and visually appealing, and the music and sound effects do their job and provide a suitably chaotic atmosphere. It's a decent arcade puzzler, with enough convolutions and variations to stop you from growing bored.
The online integration is done pretty cleverly, also. In fact, it's a crucial part of the game, so logging into OpenFeint is pretty much compulsory. Why does it need you to log in? Because each level opens with a floating leaderboard, demonstrating the current high scores for that stage. That's a like a red rag to a bull, if you're feeling competitive.
Also, there's the option to download your friends' mugshots and deploy them as monsters to be burned in your own custom games. A good way to let off steam, the next time they fail to buy a round in the pub.
The only quibble is that Monster Burner has a dreadful freemium component, where you spend your cash on in-game currency to unlock spells and power-ups. This can be done without spending money, of course, by just grinding through the game as normal, but it leaves a sour taste knowing there's a short-cut to higher scores outside of merely playing your best game.
Monster Burner is available now for £1.99 on the App Store