Typing ‘doge’ into any internet search engine will likely net millions of results, mostly comprised of shibas. Shibas are a Japanese breed of dog with distinctly curly tails and golden fur. For some reason the internet loves them. This love is what likely inspired Montaro. It probably shouldn’t have, but it did. In Montaro you play as a small shiba whose sole mission in life is to apparently leap from building to building collecting coins, while taking underwear from passing schoolgirls to fuel itself.
This is all the game is. You start, press one button to jump, and try to continue as long as you can without hitting obstacles. There’s no deeper plot. No hidden meanings. No man behind the great curtain. You play as a tiny dog jumping around an urban setting. And yet, it’s thrilling. Starting a single run will likely have you confused because the game actively neglects to tell you the singular controls, which will leave you flailing awkwardly in the air as you grapple with the environment.
After mastering the elusive jump button, Montaro moves to strike at your throat as you realise that the world is against you (and your adorable sprite). Even though a heart meter is present, each hit will be taking off half a ‘heart’ at a time. Cats kill you, crows kill you, even bad platforming kills you. Managing to avoid all these awful perils leaves you able to try leaping up for the shiny doge coins. If there’s any objective in Montaro at all then these coins are precisely that. Naturally your score is there in the background to make you feel slightly better, but bagging these unlocks new doges for you to play as.
Assuming that death is an inevitably in your first few attempts (unless you’re a natural platform God), you’re not going to bag very many coins. As your skill increases, so does your ability to nab these vital shinies. It’s all very gratifying until doing a quick bit of maths reveals that to unlock every costume you’ll be needing 4,600 doge coins. While that may seem like a small number to anyone familiar with mobile ‘runner’ games, it’s a mountain to climb in collectibles terms.
Cute charm can only take a game so far though, and Montaro manages to lose it’s charm fairly quickly. The gameplay goes from adorably harsh to unfair in a matter of minutes. This is primarily due to the fact that the player cannot control the height or length of the jump executed. Simply pressing the jump key will activate a jump that is no longer yours. Inevitably this spells doom for landing in pitfalls, getting hit by chickens, and walking into washing machines.
This game is like a stranger giving you a puppy on the street. Sure it’s cute, fluffy, and everyone goes “aw” at it, but the novelty quickly wears out. The reality then sinks in as you realise you’re left dealing with a creature pretty strange that tries to steal underwear and kill other creatures for fun.
Montaro – 66/100
Written by Matt Dawson
Developer – JCKSLAP
Publisher – JCKSLAP
Genre – Casual, Platformer, Indie
Release date – 25th July 2016
Website – twitter.com/Montaro2016