Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a puzzler which has our hero Niko celebrating his birthday in search of the delicious cake he was promised. Creatures named Boogins have stolen his treat, and along with his dog Bazooka in two he goes on a dangerous quest to retrieve his sugary treasure.

Don't be fooled by the cute and catchy title, since Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake comes with a ton of depth. What starts off as a tranquil day in the land of Gogapoe turns into a revenge mission aimed at the cake eaters. The developers, however, understand that solving a set of disparate puzzles might make a playable enough app, but their creative aesthetic exists on a much higher ground.

Niko eventually learns that finding pieces of his half eaten cake along the way shouldn't be his sole directive. As he meets strangers along the road who join his party, Niko realizes the Boogins have lain waste to other peaceful creatures who simply wanted to enjoy their beloved food of choice. Infusing role playing game elements into a puzzler gives Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake a refreshing amount of depth. While your main mission is to keep Niko moving forward, you'll also be intrigued by the game's story elements.

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To move Niko and other members of his party, you'll simply slide a finger to your desired direction. Certain obstacles will may obstruct your path, and sometimes only one of your friends can clear the way. For example, if Niko can't get past a heavy object, the purple monster Groggnar can break through most blockades (he can also beat Boogins to a pulp). Another monster named Eek can scream her way through problems, emitting a piercing sound that can shatter certain objects within each puzzle. Dirtscoot is my favorite monster, as he can burrow into dirt and tunnel his way through each maze with ease.

Although Niko is the leader of the pack, he'll need help from each creature to advance through each stage. This spirit of cooperation is a staple of many great RPG titles, and it also adds a ton of gameplay variety to this addictive puzzler.

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You can earn up to three stars per level, with each star achieved from accomplishing a certain challenge. Gold pieces you collect while solving puzzles are used to buy new outfits for Niko or purchase premium items that may aid you further down the road. Most of the stars are hard to earn during your initial pass at the puzzle, especially if one of the challenges is a time trial. Not to worry, however, as each level offers up enough nuance for numerous returns to the scene of the crime.

The 16-bit and Tokidoki-inspired visuals combine to give a bright, cheery, and ultimately eye-catching experience while the score from musician Disasterpeace is rich and textured beyond belief. I'd recommend putting a pair of headphones while playing the game on your iPad, as the music is just as captivating as the app's textured gameplay.

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I have nothing but unabashed love for Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake, and although it's a $4.99 download, it's well worth the investment. Most puzzle games are harmless pick up and play experiences, but sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too. Just make sure Niko's around to keep those Boogins away before you eat that tasty meal.

This review is based on a downloaded copy of Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake for iOS.

App Store Link: Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake for iPhone & iPad | By Turner Broadcasting Inc. & Cartoon Network | Price: Free | Version: 1.01 | 91.4 MB | Rating 9+

8.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating