Wii

North America

The Munchables

by Lukasz Balicki - June 17, 2009, 6:53 pm PDT
Total comments: 10

8

This adorable platformer successfully borrows elements of Pac-Man and Katamari Damacy while keeping a unique identity.

One genre that hasn't been well represented this generation on consoles is the platformer. Recently, there has been a platformer renaissance on the Wii with notable titles such as Super Mario Galaxy, LostWinds, de Blob, and Klonoa. The Munchables is the latest 3D platformer from Namco Bandai, and it borrows gameplay elements from two of Namco's beloved franchises, Pac-Man and Katamari Damacy.

In the game, you choose to play as either Chomper or Munchy to help the Great Elder save their home planet, Star Ving, from the evil Don Onion and his army of Tabemon space pirates, who resemble fruits and vegetables. To defeat the Tabemon, Munchy and Chomper simply eat them; luckily, both characters have a never-ending appetite. As both Munchy and Chomper eat their foes within a stage, they increase in size, which allows them to eat bigger Tabemon with ease.

To make it easier for the player, the game employs a leveling system. You will always see what level your character is, and occasionally the level of a Tabemon. If the Tabemon has a higher level than your character, your character will be repelled if you attempt to eat it.. In order to eat that enemy, you have to attack it to split it up into smaller versions of itself. If an enemy hits you, your character is in a temporarily vulnerable state in which your character will die if hit again; it takes a few seconds to recover from this state. Occasionally there are stationary items or switches that block your path. These obstacles always have a level displayed above them, and can only be eaten or activated if your character's level is equal to or greater than the level that is displayed above that obstacle.

There are eight different worlds in the game. Each world has a different theme. For example, one world has a haunted house theme and another world has an underwater theme. In each world there are two regular stages and a boss stage. In order to complete a stage, players must complete a specific objective (such as eating a specific pirate or object), which is prominently displayed on the lower left corner of the screen.

There are also acorns in each stage. If all of the acorns are collected in a stage, you will unlock an accessory to put on your character. The accessories themselves are purely cosmetic and offer no benefits. You can also unlock an accessory by earning an S ranking. At the end of each stage you will see a humorous scene in which your character expels orbs from its rear at the Great Elder, ultimately burying him under a massive pile of orbs. The number of orbs, which is dependent on how many enemies have been eaten, determines your rank.

Boss battles are very formulaic and easy, and it doesn't help that the Great Elder interrupts the battle to tell you specifically how to defeat the boss. Once the boss has been defeated, you will reclaim one of the Legendary Orbs (which oddly enough looks like colorful, coiled poo) that the evil space pirates have stolen.

The game is simple and enjoyable. I found myself addicted to looking for all the enemies in each stage and eating them before completing the final objective in the stage. The level designs in each stage are unique enough that the game never feels monotonous. The power-ups in the game are also humorous: your character can transform into a giant vacuum to suck up all the nearby smaller enemies, as well as a giant weight that slams down on the ground to stun them.

The game can be played with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Classic Controller, or GameCube Controller. The controls schemes are almost identical. The only major difference is that if you play with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, motion controls make your character jump and to recover from an attack. If you play with the Classic Controller or GameCube controller, these moves are mapped to the X button. All the control styles are good, so it's ultimately a matter of preference.

Despite the game being a 3D platformer, there are no camera controls at all. While this may be worrisome to some gamers, the good news is that the in-game camera adjusts itself automatically without it being bothersome. There are rarely any camera issues.

Unfortunately, the game suffers from some technical issues. There are occasional framerate drops that occur seemingly at random and when there are a lot of enemies on screen. The most serious technical issue is that the game occasionally freezes and locks up your console. When this happens you are forced to unplug your Wii (holding down the power button on the Wii Remote or on the console won't work) and reboot the game.

While the game is short (it can be completed in roughly five or six hours), there are a lot of accessories to unlock and a time attack mode with mirrored levels to increase the longevity of the title. There is a co-operative mode; however, the second player can only point at enemies with the Wii Remote's pointer and shoot to stun them or break them apart.

The Munchables is an enjoyable, original game and has a lot of personality and charm. While the main game is short and has some minor issues, the game has a good amount of replay value and is always entertaining to play.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 7 8 8 7 8
Graphics
8

The game is very colorful and looks great. The occasional paper craft cut-scenes are downright adorable. There are some occasional frame rate issues. The game also features an optional deflicker filter.

Sound
7

The songs themselves aren't very memorable; however, they fit well into the game. The game has a jukebox feature in case you want to listen to a particular song.

Control
8

All three controller options work well. While it's disappointing to see that the motion controls merely replace a button, they are functional and won't cause any frustration.

Gameplay
8

The gameplay mechanics are simple to grasp and get into. The developers fused some gameplay elements from Katamari Damacy and Pac-Man while giving the game its own unique identity.

Lastability
7

The main game mode can be completed in about five hours, but there are a lot of accessories to collect and a time attack mode with mirrored levels. This game's co-op is a weak feature.

Final
8

The Munchables is a fine addition to Wii's library. Fans of the platforming genre should definitely play this game.

Summary

Pros
  • Cutscenes and presentation are adorable
  • Good variety in levels
  • Solid, enjoyable gameplay
Cons
  • Extremely easy
  • Occasional crashes and frame rate drops
  • Weak co-op multiplayer
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJune 18, 2009

Fun fact: this is the first Wii game that has caused my console to lock up and freeze.

I would have bought this today when I bought Tiger Woods and Grand Slam Tennis if I'd had the money. With those, this, Ghostbusters and The Conduit this is the best June for gaming that I can remember.

CalibanJune 18, 2009

lol what a coincidence that today I started playing this game again, and once I was done with my gaming session I questioned myself why I haven't seen any reviews for this game yet. I checked gamerankings.com, and I saw some good reviews, but where is NWR's fated review? I click on NWR's homepage url, and to my amazement dun dun dun the munchables review is out.

I've just unlocked the 5th and 6th worlds and the game has yet to lock, or freeze my Wii.

Something in me just doesn't want to call this game a platformer. I don't know if it's because of how easy this game is, or that its platforming elements aren't essential at all to the game. All you do is eat, and in order to eat more you will have to jump, but it's so rare that I would say it's negligible.

I would've liked to see a bit more complexity in combat.

The presentation of this game is great.

It's a short, easy, but great game. I too think that an 8, or even as low as a 7 would be a correct value given to this game.

I don't know what it is, but there's something bugging me about this game like it needs something more. I just don't know what it is.

NinGurl69 *hugglesJune 18, 2009

Let me guess, Namco refuses to spend money advertising this.

Is that every 3rd Excuse Maker's tactic?  Secretly release games hoping it wins some kind of word-of-mouth MegaBall Lotto?  I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way.

CalibanJune 18, 2009

I've had the game for almost a month now. How could you have not known it was out?

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJune 18, 2009

I believe the game froze on the 5th or 6th world on me and it was very random. I guess I was just lucky haha.  I think the game has a healthy amount of platforming especially if you are on the 7th world. I really wish that the game didn't get a stealth release. I heard that the game did on par or worse than Klonoa did,which sold poorly. But at least Namco was smart enough to release Munchables at 29.99.

NinGurl69 *hugglesJune 18, 2009

Quote from: Caliban

I've had the game for almost a month now. How could you have not known it was out?

As a casual gamer I don't care about things I'm not aware of.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJune 18, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

Let me guess, Namco refuses to spend money advertising this.

Is that every 3rd Excuse Maker's tactic?  Secretly release games hoping it wins some kind of word-of-mouth MegaBall Lotto?  I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way.

As an FYI (and I hope not to turn this thread into an "I hate third parties WAH WAH WAH" fest), the original Katamary Damacy received little to no coverage back in 2004. The only thing the game had was word of mouth. The media declared this an insane game not to miss and at 20 bucks everybody had to play it. Now its one of Namco's most successful franchises (though I can't say how much) and has many releases.

To do a Wii related example next, We Ski also received poor advertising and yet it managed to sell a million copies and get a sequel a few months later.

I don't know how successful Munchables will be in the end, but I think it will be a decent sleeper hit, especially since the game seems to be very solid and that could be enough to get gamers to buy the title.

CalibanJune 18, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

Quote from: Caliban

I've had the game for almost a month now. How could you have not known it was out?

As a casual gamer I don't care about things I'm not aware of.

If you say so.

SteleJune 18, 2009

Quote from: pap64

To do a Wii related example next, We Ski also received poor advertising and yet it managed to sell a million copies and get a sequel a few months later.

That's a very different thing.  When Wii Ski came out there was no other game that used the Balance Board.  Only it and WiiFit.  So you had millions of WiiFit owners looking for something else to play, and it was the only option.

There's no special reason for people to be interested in this game.  I check Amazon regularly for new releases, deals of the day, etc, and I never saw this one either.  ???

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The Munchables Box Art

Genre
Developer
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: The Munchables
Release May 26, 2009
PublisherNamco Bandai
RatingEveryone

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