It would be difficult to live in a world where your lunch was trying to kill you. But such is life in Namco-Bandai’s The Munchables, a game in which food fights back.
The Premise: Eat That Angry Radish
In The Munchables’ inconsequential story, the planet Star Ving is populated by creatures called munchables who feast on the vegetables grown by “Legendary Orbs.” When space pirates steal the orbs of Star Ving, they themselves turn into hostile fruits and vegetables. The player’s job, in the role of a particularly hungry munchable, is to eat those feisty carrots and strawberries and retrieve the orbs.
Star Ving is a series of islands connected by rainbows. On each island there are two levels in which you wander around eating space pirates while working towards a goal like beating the biggest pirate or breaking some machinery. Once you’ve done this, you’ll play a boss level in which you must face a gigantic vegetable that must be defeated before you can take a rainbow to the next island.
Overeating is known as a cause of weight gain, but it is particularly pronounced in the case of munchables, who grow with every bite. Starting as a tiny little thing, your hungry avatar will expand with every creature consumed, and can become over 100 times its own size. This means that things that seem very large as you begin a level become very small as you grow; high fences become easy to jump, huge monsters become bite-sized morsels.
If a pirate is your size or smaller you simply press the eat button to consume it. If it is larger then it is inedible, but pressing the attack button will break it into several smaller, bite-sized pirates. These mini-pirates must be eaten quickly or they will gather together and merge back into a giant. Some pirates are so big that when attacked they become an army of pirates that are still too big, but these can be attacked yet again to bring them down to size.
The game makes it easy to tell whether you’ll be able to eat a pirate; a number indicates your size and the size of your opponent, so if you’re a 47 and you run into a 49, you can either attack or run around eating smaller pirates until you’ve grown enough. If something larger than you attacks then you will shrink, but waggling the remote will regain your normal size.
Presentation: Fun but Easy
Environments are very colorful and host entertaining items like cannons that will shoot you to other parts of an island or vacuums that will, for a few minutes, let you suck up every pirate near you. The score is also fun, with a happy circus-music quality to it. The story is tedious, but happily all the cut scenes are skippable.
So far so good, but The Munchables is not a game for those who want to be challenged. The low difficulty places the game solidly into the children’s game genre; if you are under 10 the game might cause you some difficulty. It is unfortunate the game demands so little of players; family-friendly Wii titles like De Blob and New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat prove that it is possible to make games that can be appreciated by both kids and adults.
Conclusion: A Better Choice for Children than Adults
I like easy games, and The Munchables is a pleasant little thing, but ultimately a pleasant, easy game can only be entertaining for so long. I still like the idea of a game in which your lunch fights back, but I’m more afraid of an underdone hamburger than I am of anything in The Munchables.