Paper Monsters for iPhone and iPad: Hero Made of Cardboard Avoids Fate Worse than Origami

By Bulent Yusuf on at

They might tell you something different at the job centre, but origami is an incredibly valuable skill. Making an accordion out of a P45 is a great way to stick it to the man. And bank managers love it when you fold a five pound note into a shirt, right before their very eyes. Consequently, we approached Paper Monsters with trepidation. Surely this platform adventure wouldn't dare cast aspersions against our favourite pastime? Would it?

How does it play?

Our worst fears have to pass. The game takes place in a world made of paper, where malevolent beasties made from origami are roaming the landscape. Our "hero", meanwhile, is constructed from bits of a manky cardboard box. He has the sheer impertinence to run, jump and explore 16 levels and try to defeat four big bosses.

Funnily enough, the fact that the monsters are made of paper makes a great excuse to use polygon graphics to render them. This isn't to say that the graphics are rubbish (far from it), but that the visual theme of dead-tree matter is exploited to the hilt, and fibrous textures and 2D characters in a 3D space are very much in abundance.

From a genre perspective, Paper Monsters veers alarmingly close to Super Mario in tone and style, with a hearty splash of Little Big Planet thrown in for good measure. That includes jumping on heads, collecting buttons (coins), going down tunnels and accessing hidden areas. It's not the least bit original, and no-one is kidding themselves that it is, but forget the reference material and it's a fun game to play.

Extras include an unlockable "Dash" mode, where our hero runs through each level automatically, and all you have to do it time the jumps. It's actually better than the main game itself. Elsewhere, you can spend your buttons on custom outfits, LBP-style. The "homage" stops short of including a level editor, alas. That would really have caused a stir.

Why do we like it?

Paper Monsters is a well-balanced little adventure, pretty to look at, and a nice diversion on a Friday afternoon. It's supposed to have an all-ages feel, but there's deffo a weird stoner vibe underlying it all, not least in the music and the ethereal voices on the soundtrack. Or maybe we're imagining things.

But try as we might, we just can't let go of the origami diss. Maybe it's time we stopped kidding ourselves and learned a skill that was actually useful. Looking at Paper Monsters and its tangled DNA of gaming inspirations, knowing a bit of intellectual property law would certainly come in handy.


Paper Monsters is available now on the App Store (69p)