DeNA embraces the puzzle battle genre with Monster Match on mobile [Interview]

DeNA’s Monster Match was released earlier this month on iOS and Android, giving mobile gamers another outlet for puzzle / battle gameplay while on the go. The game challenges players with forming and upgrading a team of monsters as they take them into battle against hundreds of different enemies.

Monster Match mixes puzzle gameplay with elemental battles. Players tap and drag their finger over symbols that match in color, with matches being available vertically, horizontally and diagonally across the game board. The more gems are matched in a single swipe, the more damage is done to the opponent, with the game tracking each monster’s elemental affiliation (and therefore appropriate strength and weakness).

We had a chance to chat with Monster Match Product Leader Roger Royce to learn more about Monster Match, and what players can expect from the game as it grows.

Inside Mobile Apps: It likely goes without saying that Monster Match has a lot in common with games like Gungho’s Puzzle & Dragons. Can you go into what inspired the team to make this kind of game, and what makes it different from its competitors?

Roger Royce: Inspiration for Monster Match was drawn from a variety of games, such as Puzzle Quest, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Dungeon Raid, and Puzzle & Dragons, to name a few. The puzzle battle genre has been forming over the past 15 years and each of these games proved that the hybrid could lead to some compelling gameplay. The Monster Match team adopted this proven formula, then infused new ideas and UI/UX to create an updated experience for its players.

Monster Match’s inherent gameplay design dictates rewarding experiences with every turn. One of the first things players will notice about Monster Match that sets it apart from its competitors is the innovative puzzle mechanic. Our team designed a new system that is engaging and approachable because it limits gameplay friction and restrictions for casual players. There is no turn timer so players don’t feel rushed to make their moves. Most other puzzle games require the player to match or trace at least three like gems, whereas we simplify this by letting you match a minimum of two. Additionally, we let the player trace gems in any direction, including diagonals. There is even the ability to un-trace matches if players change their mind mid-turn and see a better move on the board elsewhere.

[contextly_sidebar id=”18b04df47f602a6e89b45ec4eb200e6f”]IMA: Many of the creatures in Monster Match are adorable in their original versions, but become more gritty and “dark” in later evolutions. Is there a way for players to keep the cute and cuddly critters, without losing out on power?

RR: One of the special aspects about Monster Match is that the game appeals to players with different interests. These interests include both gameplay and art style so we attempted to cater to a broad audience. Although the majority of the monsters grow from what we call a “cute” to an “edgy” evolutionary form, we purposefully included some exceptions to this trend with our initial release set. Check out the Panda family to see an example of a monster that maintains its adorability right through its final form. At this time, we don’t have plans to let players de-evolve their monsters, but we are releasing new content every week so everyone is bound to find a monster that suits their visual preference.

IMA: Limited time events look to be a big part of Monster Match’s future. Can you explain a bit about what players can expect in each new event in terms of gameplay and prizes?

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