Nickelodeon's Monkey Quest: This kids MMO doesn't monkey around

Monkey Quest
Hey, moms and dads out there, listen up. I know, the kids have been bugging you to let them play World of Warcraft, but you A. don't want to pay multiple monthly fees and B. want a game that's a tad less violent than gutting armies of the undead. This is exactly why Nickelodeon and Behaviour Interactive have created Monkey Quest, a full 3D massively multiplayer online game (MMO) that runs in your browser. Sure, it requires the Unity Engine plug-in to play, but from what Keith Tiernan ,VP Creative Development, Garret Moehring, Director of Production, and SVP and GM Kyra Reppen showed us of the game, installing another plug-in should be no problem at all.

Hero MonkeyWhat Monkey Quest is, at its core, is a kids action cartoon adapted to the MMO format, and its proverbial "episodes" are released in patches. The game takes place in the world of Ook, where a civilization of talking, magic-wielding monkeys fight to fend off an ancient evil that's out to split the monkey tribes once again ... or something like that. Well, come to think of it, does that sound too far off from recent "adult" role playing games (RPGs) like Dragon Age 2? If you subtract quite a few obvious details from the game, you have the framework for a classic fantasy tale. Beneath the cutesy, squeaky monkey characters is an epic adventure, which must be why the team tells me Monkey Quest has already welcomed 1 million players since its March soft release.

And to boost that number of players, Nickelodeon is already working on a version of the Monkey Quest for iOS platforms like the iPhone and iPad. "We [do not] think it's going to be a true port," Reppen told us. "We're excited about the cross platform abilities with Unity. So, it's something we'll continue to keep an eye on for other opportunities." I can think of a platform that runs Unity well already, can you? (Hint: You play FarmVille on it.)

Thankfully, the game is far less complex than, say, WoW, as it lands more in the MapleStory spectrum of MMOs. For folks that weren't born in the 21st century, Monkey Quest will evoke memories of classic platformers like Donkey Kong Country. That said, the game is controlled using the keyboard, which does nothing to phase children of the Doom age. But for kids who grew up with PlayStation 2, the Wii and Xbox, the otherwise intuitive controls could prove to be a barrier to entry. Don't let that stop you from trying, because you might find yourself playing this--for supervision, of course.

Monkey Quest
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Nickelodeon's Monkey Quest: This kids MMO doesn't monkey around

You your kids won't be just running around in a digital playground, they'll be teaming up, completing quests, slaying monsters and hoarding loot. You know, just like you do every Wednesday night when it's "Me Time" for three hours. Combat is generally mapped the CVBN keys above the space bar as players gain new abilities leveling up, but all players get an air slam ability. In sprawling, multidimensional and layered dungeons, monkeys will come up against arena-style battle sequences. The encounters scale to group size (four is the maximum), and purple-flaming skulls will not stop creating enemies until they're destroyed. But what's even more interesting are the platforming and the puzzles.

Again, the game takes a considerable amount of skill with a keyboard, as money's swing and climb across ropes, swim in ravines and bounce on massive drums. (Then again, I guess 1 million kids are getting it.) And when players band together in raiding parties of four, the gameplay takes yet another upturn. In most dungeons, you and your fellow primates will find switches and platforms that require all of your friends to activate. But even better, is when each player must play a role in getting that coveted chest brimming with loot.

Monkey Quest complete
For instance, one puzzle Tiernan, Moehring and I encountered required one monkey to stand on a giant button, the other to stand near a lever and the other to stand on a platform attached to this system of pulleys. Only through that coordination, can players get the best items. Well, they can buy them too in the Nick Cash Mall. Nickelodeon took a cue from the free-to-play and Facebook games markets by playing up paid transactions in Monkey Quest. One that, with that many players, will serve it well. And, you know what, with a smoothly animated, accessible game that could easily become the next huge Nickelodeon franchise, the team would deserve it.

Click here to play Monkey Quest Now >

Have you (or your little ones) played Monkey Quest yet? How do you approach kids MMOs for both yourself and your tiny adventure-loving adolescents? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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