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Monster Burner Review: Roasting monsters again and again on Windows Phone

Last week, most of us were thrilled when Monster Burner launched as a free Xbox Windows Phone game. Surprisingly, a few days later Monster Burner is no longer free; it now sells for a dollar. The only other time an Xbox Windows Phone game has gone up in price (Angry Birds and ilomilo promotions excluded)  was Miniclip’s Fling jumping from 99 cents to a too-high $2.99 last year.

Monster Burner was free on iOS before it got pulled and relies heavily on In-App Purchases. Now that it costs a buck, should you still get it? Read on to find out...

Destroy all monsters

Monster Burner’s gameplay has a simple but strong foundation. Enemies approach from the top of the screen and each one that reaches the bottom causes one heart’s worth of damage. To keep your hearts safe, you’ll fling fireballs at the baddies from anywhere on the screen. You can hold your finger down before launching the fireball to increase its size and thus hit more enemies. Ricocheting shots off of walls will burn even more foes at once.

That ricochet mechanic gives Monster Burner some technique. The more enemies you hit with one fireball, the higher your score and the more coin bonuses they drop. So bouncing fireballs off the walls in order to hit the most possible enemies will reap the best rewards. But the enemies come in different patterns and speeds, so you can’t always reply on a particular angled shot to get the job done. An if you’re in trouble, you might just have to flick like crazy instead of charging up big shots to richochet.

Monster mash

On the whole, Monster Burner lacks for enemy variety. You’ll mostly fight the same orange ‘Morglins’ throughout the entire game. Sometimes they show up wearing skull helmets, in which case they take two hits to kill instead of one. But at the very least, some palette swaps would’ve spiced things up a bit.

That said, a few completely different enemy types show up in some levels. Water-based Droolers are the most common secondary foe. Fireballs kill them but they also extinguish the fireball, ending a combo chain. The trick is to aim for as many regular enemies as possible before your shot hits the Drooler. When these guys start showing up in large numbers in harder levels, you’ll just have to flick away instead of worrying about combos.

Other enemies include fast-moving spiders, ghosts who disappear and reappear, zombies, werewolves, and a vampire bat. Bats must be killed quickly because they drain your life from a distance. But most of the baddies I just listed only appear in the Transylvaniac set of levels instead of throughout the game. They fit that level’s theme but the game would work better if they also showed up in other levels and modes.

Finally, princesses don’t fall into the monster category, yet they pose just as much threat as enemies. Whenever a princess runs by, you have to let her reach the bottom of the screen unharmed. Accidentally roast her with a fireball (very easy to do) and you lose a heart. I’ve dyed, I mean dieted... err, no, DIED quite a few times as a result of unintended princess barbecues.

Game modes

Monster Burner offers several modes, but they’re spread around kind of oddly. The ‘Play’ button leads to a campaign mode that sadly lacks a story. It contains six sets of regular levels. Each set has a different number of levels within it – one offers only four while two of them have eight. And the High Plains set’s levels start their numbering at two instead of one. Truly there is no rhyme or reason to the level distribution.

Within that same Play option you’ll also find a set of bonus modes: Survival, Revenge of the Enchantress, Spider Lair, and Fright Night. Survival (which costs a bunch of coins to unlock) is a challenging stage that goes on for quite a while and offers potentially high coin payouts. Nobody has discovered how to unlock the other threee modes; maybe they're a teaser for a future update?

Outside of the play option, you’ll also find three more game modes on the cluttered main menu: Level of the Day, Gold Rush, and Four Seasons. Four Seasons is a set of four simple season-themed levels. I guess the point of them is to compete for higher scores with your friends. Note that even though the help text mentions global leaderboards, like other Windows Phone games this one only supports Friends Leaderboards.

Gold Rush adds an interesting time-based element. You can only play it every six hours, and the game’s Live title will even display a number one when it becomes available. (The Live tile has a spelling error though, as pictured a few paragraphs below.) Gold Rush levels change every week. They’re longer than normal levels and offer far more coin rewards than usual.

99 problems

  • The Children’s Mode advertised in the game’s Store description is NOT present on Windows Phone. Let’s advertise our games honestly, okay devs?
  • The options screen has a Cloud storage backup option, which would be awesome... If it worked, which it doesn't. Let's hope Ubisoft fixes that with an update.
  • No volume control options! Given Windows Phone's lack of independent volume control, developers should never forget to include sound options.
  • The game crashes on start-up for some users. I didn't experience this, but it needs to be fixed.

Grinding for gold

Monster Burner started out as a freemium title. Even though the game costs a little money now, it still relies on the same IAPs as before. Basically, the in-game store sells single-use items (slow down monsters, speed up monsters, or draw damaging fire walls) and several permanent upgrades. The upgrades give you more life, make your fireballs bigger or reflect more, and increase firewall size. Because the campaign difficulty ratchets up super quickly, you’ll need to buy most or all of the upgrades to complete the game.

All of those cost coins, which can be earned during gameplay. Upgrades get super expensive, so players will have to either grind for coins or purchase them with Microsoft Points. The IAP prices (as with many Windows Phone games) don’t offer a terrific value for the money. But the permanent 2x coin multiplier for 160 Points ($2) is practically a must-buy since it cuts the grinding time in half. Our coin grinding trick will speed it up even more!


Spelling is hard, okay?

Many of the Achievements involve earning 100 percent efficiency ratings on levels by keeping fireball use to a minimum – usually not as hard as it sounds. Others require players to earn orbs from high scores on the levels. A few levels won’t give up their orbs without a fight, let me tell you. And one Achievement wears a shamefully incorrect description - the one for getting 93 orbIt actually takes 111 orbs to unlock it.

You’ll also need an overall leaderboard score of one million points. The problem is level scores don’t always post to the leaderboard for some reason, so you might have to replay levels several times just to get their scores to count. Ubisoft should definitely improve the leaderboard performance.

Finally, purchasing every upgrade will take a while. Use our fast coin grinding trick to get them in a hurry.

Overall Impression

Monster Burner is built as a free game and it really should be free, so I don’t know why the price got raised to a dollar. But even I you factor in that cost and the 2x permanent coin multiplier, it still ends up being just three bucks total – a fair price.

The design of the game relies a tad too heavily on grinding though. The campaign difficulty spikes weirdly so that you’ll sometimes have a tough time until you buy another upgrade or two. And only certain levels are good for grinding anyway, so you end up playing those few levels or Gold Rush for hours and barely even visit the other levels. The game could use more even payouts and eight levels per set instead of some sets having fewer levels.

I don’t want to sound too down on Monster Burner, though. It needs more polish, but the core gameplay is fun and easy to learn. I love the art style too. If you can put up with a little grinding and like turning monsters to ashes, don’t hesitate to grab the game and the 2x coin multiplier along with it.

Monster Burner – 99 Cents - 33MB - Store Link

QR: Monster Burner

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Survival mode doesnt go on n on... It stops at one point.
  • I see you've dyed several times while playing.
  • That's what happens when you get old and lots of gray hair.  You dye a lot.
  • Nice one brother. +1
  • I meant Paul's mistake.
    His mistake while writing about mistakes.
  • hahhaa :D
  • My kingdom for a proof reader! Oh well, it's FICKSED now. See for yourself.
  • You have many loyal proof readers.  :)
    It's also nice having authors who ficks they're mixed steaks.  :D
  • Ha ha, lucky me. :D
  • How to unlock other bonuses mode except survival?
  • This is what I want to know too. I'm sure it is a progression thing, but how which levels for each one?
  • I've been wondering the same thing.  I've earned every achievement except Prepared for War, and I've made it through survival mode once.  I wonder if maybe I have to do better in survival?
  • No idea. Dont knw what we exactly have to do to unlock it..
  • Same here.. I am taking a guess that we have to complete 3/3 orbs in level of the day.. Am at 2.5/3..
    Btw got 265000 in survival..
  • I got 316100 in survival.
  • Have you made it to 3/3 and did it make any difference?
  • If I'm correct the prepared for war is when you get all the extra's (fireball size, etc.) at max.
  • That's right. I wonder if Ahardin typed the wrong name or just misunderstood the Achievement description.
  • No, I understood what Prepared for War is, I was just referring to that to indicate I had gotten all the fireballs/100% across all the levels and still hadn't unlocked any of the unlockables other than survival.
    Since it seems noone else has unlocked them, I wonder if they're even unlockable.  Maybe they're place holders for future updates?
  • Has anyone managed to unlock any levels after Survival? I have heaps of gold but nothing happens when I click on the other 3...
  • Good question - they don't seem to be available. I need to update the review.
  • I played it for some time then I got bored. The gameplay is very repetitive.
  • The review pretty much says it all.  The gameplay is a fun concept, but the overall game itself is....well not the best developed.
    At the price of free, I could recommend it to all to try it at least have some fun, but it's not free anymore.  If you're serious about getting all of the achievements, I recommend the 2x coin upgrade.  I luckily had exactly 160ms points left in my account I wasn't going to use for any XBL games anytime soon so that worked out for me.
  • there is no option to turn sound off
  • Yeah, it mentions that in the article. There's no options at all! I'd like to turn off sound or at least adjust the volume, and to turn off the constant leaderboard checking
  • The Game Master achievment unlocks at 111 orbs not 101...
    Got all achievments in a week except Prepared for war which requires all upgrades to max power..
  • Survival mode does actually end.
  • How do you bounce the fireballs off the wall! Mine just disappear off the screen when I try and fling them to the left and right.
  • Increase Rebounds (via in game shop).
  • Not all levels have walls to rebound off either...
  • I rated the game 4 stars when it first appeard... Now I want to rate it 2 or 3 stars...
    First of all it began to lag a lot on my 8X, the graphics are horrible, Leaderboards broken?, Live Tile Bug and maybe some things too...
  • It lags ridiculously. It seems to be worse when filling in all the leaderboard and avatar information (on WiFi). The silly thing is that none of my mates play this game so I'm always declared #1 - I'd rather just turn the option off and have less lag, or only check the scores once a day. I really don't need to be updated on my continuing #1 status on every screen.
  • The Leaderboards are NOT broken. They will only update with your score if you have the proper date set on your phone, not June 3rd... unless it actually is June 3rd.
  • Sometimes they just won't update, period, regardless of date. They're glitchy.
  • Definitely glitchy... I had a leaderboard score of something like 4500 but when I played the level it said my best score was over 50000. So it had logged my first poor effort but not subsequent plays...
  • The lag seems to get worse the longer I play, anyone else experience this? Eventually the music would begin before the next level appeared.
  • This game crashes immediately on start on Samsung Omnia W and possibly Lumia 800...
  • Reinstall it. Worked for me.
  • How could I buy "Double Coins Magic Pouch" for 2x multiplier since I have more than 160 ms points but I can't see where I have to press for buy it. Thank you.
  • It's in the utilities section before u start the game .. Just scroll down in the menu where u buy items
  • Bought that 2x coins pouch. Not affecting the coins. Screwed. Anyone got that bug? On 7.8
  • It actually does affect but doesn't show as x2 , the coins are themselves worth twice
  • I count the total coins after, no 2x. Don't know whether to select it before each round or not, since it was there, but doesn't show as purchased or something. No price, either ...
  • Did you try the Gold Rush trick we posted yesterday? If so, how many coins do you average at the end of it?
  • 4000 to 5000. Either I'm playing too bad or the pouch doesn't work. That's when I noticed it anyway. Don't know the coin after the level is the original or already multiplied
  • Sounds like the multiplier really didn't work for you. I would contact MS support and ask for a refund. There's no guarantee that you'll have it after reinstalling (probably not), so if you've made decent progress I wouldn't suggest reinstalling, even if you got a refund.
  • Maybe I'm just not good enough. Your screenshot shows the score of over 100k. I'm like about 70k at best since I don't used items & hasn't upgraded enough. Also, DLCs purchased with MSP has no refund, just checked it. Wondering originally bronze coin add 1 or 2? If 1 then it already multiplied
  • Well, I do have all the upgrades (start with fireball size and ricochet) so that could be part of it. I'm not sure how much coins are worth on their own; I only paid attention to the end of level payouts. They won't give you refunds for not liking the DLC, but if the DLC legitimately doesn't work, you can probably talk the rep into doing it.
  • Must be it. Only have 2 rebounds, 1 ball size, also a side effect of changing the clock is all background tasks disabled. Not worth grinding through. Back to playing Cut the rope with new season update. Surprised it hasn't made the news on wpcentral yet. Thanks! :D
  • In the Utilities section on my Mozart7, It hasn't show the price and nothing happen when you press on it just like in the video on 1.11 and also my MS point wasn't deducted.!
  • I think you hit the nail on the head with "The design of the game relies a tad too heavily on grinding though."  I think I'm just about done with the game because of this.  It was fun for a little while, but the levels are getting harder and it really feels like I'd need to grind out (or buy) more upgrades to get through them with a reasonable score. It was a nice game for free, I'm glad I got it before the price went up.  That seems like a really weird move.  It feels like a freemium game, that's for sure.
  • Game just crashes on my 8x immediately. I've made good progress and am 13/20 achievement wise. If I uninstall/reinstall, will I lose all progress? I know I won't actually lose the 13/20, but I paid for the 2x, and really don't want to start the grind of coin collecting for the max power ups over again....
    Any other suggestions?
  • You'll probably lose all of your progress since the cloud save feature doesn't actually work. Man, I should mention that in the review. And I'm not sure whether you'd keep the 2x multiplier - it's risky. I'd just hold out for an update and hope it fixes the crashing problem.
  • Imo the water enemies and princesses should not be in the game. The first time I upgraded rebound, I was immediately penalized for it by a parade of princesses. You have to use MORE fireballs by NOT rebounding when princesses show up so you don't hit them- upgrades are actively working against you. And the water enemies nullify 2/3 of the core upgrades. Both princess and water enemies are present in most levels. It seems to me like the game wasn't planned out very thoroughly.
  • Wouldn't that be the point? Makes you plan your shots rather than just pinball the large fireball across the screen?
  • That is the point of them, but I can't disagree that they're annoying.
  • Guys, search for me in xbox live. My gamertag is "AndyAndy94". I am one of the MonsterBurner "bro" and some friends would be awesome. Maybe we'll even chat, but for now, I dunno (like others) why only survival is openable