Monkey Brains is a cartoon-style game that combines side-scrolling action and puzzle-game elements. It is one of the first episodic games to be distributed by ARUSH Entertainment, and if you are interested in trying the game, you can download the first installment for free, and then download additional episodes for a small fee.
While the game's simple graphics and sound are unlikely to impress anyone, Monkey Brains features interesting game mechanics that correspond with the game's background story. You assume the role of Dr. Simius, an injured scientist trapped on an island. To stop his evil partner, Dr. Kreep, from using a dangerous mind-control technology, Dr. Simius must travel across the island and destroy the remaining mind-control machines. Travel is difficult, though, since he is confined to a wheelchair, and there are a variety of challenging levels in his way. To make it through the levels, Dr. Simius must control a group of monkeys and have them pull levers, climb ropes, press buttons, and perform a wide variety of actions to help him complete his mission.
Monkey Brains uses simple 2D graphics, but the animations are amusing and colorful. The music in the game is pleasant, but it can get repetitive, especially on the harder levels in which you must spend time figuring out the puzzle solutions. The sound effects used in the game are appropriate and, combined with the music, give the game a fun, cartoonlike feel.
The basic game mechanics involve guiding monkeys through side-scrolling levels, complete with traps, enemies, and puzzles. The traps and enemies in the game are nonlethal, but they do reduce the overall monkey health bar found at the bottom of the screen. When the health gets to zero, the game is over, so you must replenish health by collecting bananas and fruit.
In addition to the typical side-scrolling game mechanics, Monkey Brains adds the ability to switch control between monkeys so that if a door is controlled by an inaccessible lever on the other side, it's possible to take control of a different monkey and go around another way. Most of the puzzles in the game operate on this principle so you must use teamwork among the monkeys to complete the objectives. Some puzzles require more complicated maneuvers: For example, you'll start off controlling one monkey, which you'll use to throw another monkey across a pit--and then you'll switch control in midair to the other monkey, which will have to grab hold of a hanging vine.
Other puzzles require that you press a series of buttons, which let you open doors or get monkeys to move rocks or bounce on beds to get to a higher perch. Some of the levels are fairly amusing--one puzzle in the big-top area requires monkeys to load themselves into circus cannons and shoot themselves across the screen, and there are areas within the levels that are filled with monkey-eating Venus flytraps and ponds full of enormous goldfish ready to gobble up (and later spit out) swimming monkeys.
One notable shortcoming in the game is the lack of an adjustable difficulty level. Most of the game's puzzles are geared toward average players, but some can be fairly challenging. The game provides simple hints and tips that scroll across the bottom of the page occasionally, but these seem to relate to the game as a whole rather than the specific level or puzzle you're involved in.
The game includes a cooperative two-player split-screen mode as well as a head-to-head two-player battle mode. The cooperative mode lets two players help one another through the game's levels, while in battle mode, you try to be the first to destroy each other's mind-control machine. These add some variety to the gameplay and can be fun for two people to play on the same computer, but they don't significantly increase the value of the game as a whole.
Overall, Monkey Brains is a game that's suitable for those who like side scrollers but are looking for more puzzles and less action. The graphics and sound are adequate, many of the levels and puzzles can be entertaining, and the game mechanics add a bit of a twist.