If you have a girl in the 6-10 year old age range, chances are you’ve heard of Monster High (in fact, chances are pretty good that you have a variety of dolls, purses, clothes, and more featuring these characters all over your home). Released by Mattel, the Monster High dolls resemble something like if Barbie starred in a B movie. Great hair, great clothes, and super cute accessories, all bundled into an adorable monster teen package makes these characters practically irresistible to the grade school set.
Little Orbit brings a classic racing game formula featuring these popular Monster High characters to the 3Ds with the release of Monster High: Skultimate Roller Maze. You’ll race your way through a variety of courses, indoors and out, using a team of characters you chosen from your favorites. With hairpin turns, collectable powerups, and loads of bumping, it’s roller derby Monster High style.
If you’ve played any racing game, Skultimate Roller Maze will look pretty familiar to you. It’s set up is pretty standard in the racing genre. Basically, you can choose from racing a circuit, relay, quick race, or timed race, all of which offer the same races and characters, some of which are locked at first. By completing the three circuits in each of the three difficulty levels, you’ll gradually be able to unlock more characters and courses.
As you begin your circuit or race, you are given the chance to select your team from the characters currently unlocked. Your team consists of three skaters – a captain and two teammates. The characters include a variety of Monster High favorites, from Frankie Stein and Deuce Gorgon to Operetta and Lagoona Blue. Each is listed as either Light, Medium, or Strong, which affects how they skate. For instance, lighter skaters may skate faster, but are more likely to get knocked down when skaters exchange elbows. The best team will include a variety of weights (but most likely your daughter will just choose her favorites). Choose your track (or circuit) and you’re off to skate.
The skating is controlled via the buttons on your 3Ds (you won’t really need a stylus at all for this game). The right shoulder button accelerates, left shoulder brakes, joystick steers, and the letter buttons switch between skaters and use powerups. Each race consists of three laps, and your skaters will tire out quickly. Each skater has an energy bar, and when it is depleted you’ll need to switch to another skater before they slow down the race. You can actually switch whenever you like, making it a simple matter to switch to a heavyweight when a pack of skaters is getting rough, or a lightweight when quick maneuvering is needed.
The races contain two types of items that can be picked up along the way. Coffins Purple coffins release a stream of bats (and hopefully helpful items) when hit, but hit an upside down one by mistake and you’ll be swallowed up (literally), and it’s tough to make up that much time lost. Coins are scattered throughout all the levels, and collecting them will fill up a status bar that can give you a much needed boost when full.
Needless to say, Skultimate Roller Maze is filled with cutesy Monster sayings, cobwebs, coffins, skulls, and more, all designed to make your Monster High fan squeal with delight. (Note: parents likely will not find it nearly as captivating.) Since it’s a game intended for young girls, I had my six year old daughter take it for a test run and give me her thoughts. As expected, she fell instantly in love as soon as she saw the Monster High theme. It took her a race or two to get used to it (there isn’t any tutorial to speak of – just a controls section in the menu to read), but once she got the hang of racing she played for a solid hour after that with a smile on her face the whole time. Her favorite parts? The cute characters, and the fact that the coins sparkle when you pick them up. Little Orbit seems to know their target audience well.
Monster High: Skultimate Roller Maze isn’t going to win any awards for new concepts, innovative gameplay, or just about anything else – it’s a pretty basic racing game with tons of Monster High goodness piled on. What it will win is the hearts of young girls, simply because their favorite characters star in it.