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Freemium Field Test: Monsters Ate My Metropolis can eat up your cash in a hurry

Andrew Hayward | Aug. 26, 2015
Adult Swim's silly series takes a new approach—but does the freemium design bite?

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Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money). 

Monsters Ate My Condo kicked off Adult Swim’s colorful mobile series in 2011 with a fun new take on the match-three puzzle game: It had you feed floors of an unstable tower to the giant monsters attacking from either side. And then Super Monsters Ate My Condo took that premise and simply made it faster and sillier. Also free-to-play—and with a pretty friendly design, at that. 

Given the series’ oddball tone, shifting to a totally new kind of gameplay seems totally reasonable and appropriate here, and Adult Swim and developer PikPok make it work in Monsters Ate My Metropolis. See, Metropolis is no puzzler: It’s a competitive card game, only you’re playing alone and your opponent is a large city. And like most competitive card games—which are built on the premise of buying cards to expand and empower your deck—there are frequent opportunities to spend real money. 

The pitch 

The bright and goofy monsters from the earlier games return, only now you’ll choose one and guide its path of destruction. You’ll do so by building up a deck of cards, each color-coded and unique in its attack style, power, and effect on the rest of your cards. As anyone who played Magic: The Gathering or any other collectible card game (CCG)—physical or digital alike—knows, there’s a science to concocting a quality deck, even one with just 12 cards as in Metropolis. 

And it’s not the only deck you’re building: A second one is needed to protect your own city. When you play a match in Metropolis, you’re really playing against another player’s deck, albeit controlled automatically by the computer. This means that other players will also challenge your city deck from time to time, so you’ll have to make sure both decks have quality cards. 

The actual battles have a reliable back-and-forth routine. You pick an attack card from the three drawn from the deck, the city you’re facing picks its own attack card, and then the attacks play out and each side’s health bar is diminished. You’ll keep doing that until one of the sides collapses in defeat, although with each turn, the game alternates which player chooses first. 

That’s an important detail, since most of the strategy in the game comes from the way the colors play off of each other. The color wheel dictates which cards are more powerful against others, so a green card can smash a yellow one, while a yellow card has a clear advantage over blue ones. You’ll pick it up within minutes, and it’s a crucial detail: If you choose an advantageous card, your attack power will significantly increase, while the opposing card will be dramatically diminished. It’s the biggest key to success in Metropolis: Ignore the colors and you’ll get crushed. 

 

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