Independently Impressive: A Look at Munchies’ Lunch
We managed to spend a lot of time with Munchies’ Lunch, and have decided that it is perhaps the first ever puzzle game that carries weight beyond solving puzzles for the sake of it.
I've just played perhaps the first ever puzzle game inspired by the true story of a family's fight for survival. It's called Munchies' Lunch. Strangely enough, the incredibly serious sounding theme is presented in a light, colorful, cartoonish style. The game follows the mother of the family, whom are all survivors of a horrible guillotine accident, on her quest to feed her two children, and save her husband from Yetis, Islamic Birds, Mask-people, and some pink blob-things whom are the misshapen result of an experiment to clone Gene Simmons.
Munchies' Lunch is very easy to pick up and play. Within minutes of installing the game, I was off and running with the first set of puzzles. The object of the game is straight forward: score enough points to advance onto the next level. Points are scored by collecting items strewn about the checkerboard where each puzzle is played out. Generally, these are a piece of food, like an apple or a carrot. There are, of course, obstacles to be avoided – monsters and chili peppers, specifically. Touch either, and you'll have to restart the puzzle completely. Naturally, you figure out ways to circumvent the obstacles, or eliminate them entirely. It sounds simple, but Munchies' Lunch can be deceptively complex.
Mainly because there's a twist to the way movement is handled. The main character moves around the board one square at a time, while monsters on the board mirror every move she makes. So, if she were to move up, they move down, she moves left, they move right, so on and so forth. You have to carefully manage the way she moves, because the monsters can also collect the items you're after. If they steal enough of them away from you, you'll have to start the puzzle over again.
While the mirrored movement of monsters in this game was cool at first, I began to get tired of it after a while. There are many times when careful manipulation of your enemy's movements is absolutely critical. I began to focus specifically on their movements, rather than those of our heroic mother. As a result, I'd make mistakes like pushing up on my keyboard because I wanted the monsters to move up. Predictably, they actually did the opposite, resulting in my having to restart the puzzle.
This happened quite often, as some puzzles required me to focus on my character's movement, while others has me focused on the monsters' movement. Switching back and forth seemingly randomly would often get confusing. And when an avoidable error on my part caused me to restart a puzzle for the 20th time, things started getting frustrating.
There's a lot of trial and error in Munchies' Lunch, and each failure requires a restart of the board. When I combine those trial and error restarts with the restarts caused by moving down when I meant to move up, a lot of the fun of the game was lost for me. This could have been negated by an “undo” option – the ability to go back a couple of steps in the puzzle, rather than have to start at the beginning each time I make a small mistake. Also, it'd save me the personal grief of know that I caused a mother of two to get eaten by a yeti while her children looked on and cried.
Still, there are some admirable qualities in Munchies' Lunch. First, it's very easy to get into. There's a saying that goes “a good game is easy to learn, but tough to master” and Munchies' Lunch is both. One can jump into the game knowing practically nothing about it, and start solving puzzles right away. As progression is made, the puzzles get much, much more complex – later puzzles require a good ability for foresight and planning to solve. Also, Munchies' Lunch is very easy to pick up and play. Unfortunately, it's only available for Windows right now, but I have a feeling there will be iOS and Android releases, as this sort of game practically begs to be played while waiting at the Doctor's office, or when trying to keep your kids entertained at the grocery store.
All in all, Munchies Lunch isn't going to satisfy someone looking for a uniquely deep puzzle experience. But it's an easy to get into, quickly consumed affair that offers a few hours game time for a fair price.