Despite its short length and simplistic nature, Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is an enjoyable and adorable experience.
Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake must be one of the most descriptive titles in the history of video games. In the charming puzzle game, you wake up on the day of your birthday only to realize that the cake your parents have left for you has been taken by a group of monsters that have raided your small village. So you must leave the town and go to the woods to get back as many pieces of cake as possible.
As in The Legend of Zelda, puzzles involve pushing buttons to open doors that hide items, moving heavy blocks to activate mechanisms and using some of the special abilities from your monster friends. As you progress through the game, you befriend monsters with special abilities. Monsters can headbutt enemies and tree stumps, vomit rainbow energy out of their mouths, perform a supersonic yell that confuses nearby enemies and freeze entire lakes to create a path that other members of your party can walk on.
At almost any point during the level, you can switch between the different characters and since each of these characters has a unique ability, figuring out what you need to do to progress is eminently satisfying. To clear a given level, you need to collect all the pieces of cake available in that level, but there are additional objectives that encourage you to collect all coins, finish the level in a set amount of time and rescue some of the people the monsters have captured from the village they’ve invaded. What once were simplistic puzzles soon become cerebral and creative.
As you finish each level, your performance is graded according to the time it took you to complete the level, the coins you found and if you hurt enemies or not. The stars you receive are useful to unlock side-quests, secrets legs of the journey and so on and while this isn’t an essential part of the game, it’s entertaining to play additional levels. Overall, the island where the game takes place has five parts and there are many levels to beat, monsters to befriend, hidden levels to uncover and so on.
As soon as you start playing Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake, you’ll realize that this is one of those charming games that ooze personality and that the painstaking attention to detail permeates every aspect of this game. The level design, overworld map, colorful menus, silly dialogue, cartoonish visuals and pleasant soundtrack are simply endearing and it’s great to know that the game’s charm doesn’t wear off even after hours of playtime. Additionally, the game can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike and while older players will probably find some of the puzzles far too simplistic, the audiovisual aspect is fantastic no matter how old you are.
Also, some people will find Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake too short, since it takes 4 to 5 hours to finish the main quest. Naturally, you can always try to perfect previous levels to get more stars, you can attempt to unlock additional monsters and try to unlock as many achievements as possible, but the core adventure is still too short. Additionally, the game ends abruptly and its ending suggests a sequel which totally diminishes the final moments. While this isn’t a story-focused game, the open ended conclusion seems inappropriate and unsatisfying.
Even with its problems, I enjoyed the time I spent in Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake. Some puzzles are simplistic, the game’s too short and there aren’t many reasons to go back once you’ve completed the main campaign, but this is still a solid puzzle game that oozes charm and personality. And for that alone, the game’s worth recommending.