Onion Games, most recently known for bringing Moon to Switch (soon to PS4 too), is one of those studios to watch because their games are always unique. Mon Amour, which translates to “my love,” is another original game that is absurdly different and always ridiculously ridiculous.
Mon Amour is essentially Flappy Bird but instead of flying between pipes, players flutter from the left side of the screen to the right side of a single screen. At the edge of the screen is a lady and you need to make face contact in order to provide a kiss. If this sound crazy, that is because it is but just stick with me here for a moment.
This kiss will then randomly spray hearts on the screen in which you can collect when the stage resets, gameplay repeats, and there is a new lady to kiss. These hearts can then grow in size which also increases their score so there is an advantage in avoiding them until the time is right. However, the challenge increases with each passing stage as the borders on the top and bottom of the screen slowly start to enclose the player’s path to the waiting lady. Occasionally, a kiss will generate a piece of fruit. Collect this fruit on the next level and the screen borders will be pushed back, making progress a little easier to reach the edge of the screen. In other words, there is always something in which to aim, balancing that risk versus reward element.
The playable character also flies like Flappy Bird, meaning, there is a lot of weight on the downward fall and nearly impossible to fly in a straight line, which is the point. Hundredths of a second between button presses is critical in terms of timing as the slightest deviation can cause a big swing. There is plenty of skill and timing involved but that is what makes this game so stupidly fun. Each time you die you know it was you own fault, you know you can do better, and you’ll want to immediately try again. The online leaderboard is a great way to judge your progress too. In fact, if you just wait on the main menu screen, the player is charmed with one sentence pop-up phrases of how people died and other small facts about their latest run. It is hilarious and serves no purpose other than to make you laugh.
You know when you play any Metal Slug game and you release a hostage and he gives you an item? But then that hostage is only rescued if you beat that stage without dying? Well, the kissed women Mon Amour follows this same formula. When you kiss them, they drop hearts which and increase score or drop fruit to potentially make your next run a little easier. However, if you clip a wall or fall off the screen, these maidens will drop off, which essentially works as a life mechanic. Every 9th level is a mini game of sorts, providing the player with a different type of challenge, whereas the 10th stage is the castle stage. Reach the castle door with all your ladies following behind you to unlock them in the main menu. In additional to earning the high score on the leaderboard, players have incentive to “kiss’em all” through skill and perseverance. It is a nice extra that is also a little strange. As the game first begins, the playable character is marrying his bride. Immediately after their ceremony, the bride gets turned into a mouse and the dude now has to kiss dozens of other ladies to save her..? I don’t know, it makes no sense, but nothing in this game does, which is why it is so awesome.
Everything is displayed in chunky pixel art that oozes personality. Pastel colors mixed with the love theme works strongly and the particle effects and screen transitions also play their part. Keen eyed players can also note their flight path is also outlined in the background, looking like an Excel sales chart. Like so many other details, this serves no purpose other than to add that extra layer of charm and personality to the experience. Even how the character flutters through the air with this twisting nose-first move is hilarious unto itself. The soundtrack is also outstanding and fits the premise of the gameplay perfectly. Perfectly!
Scores can swell which makes earning a single spot on the leaderboard a big deal as the competition is always fierce. As I was able to play this game before it became widely available, I sat firmly in 9th place on the leaderboard but the next closest score was hundreds of thousands of points away – not even close. But it gives me another worthwhile reason to come back and try again.
Sure, Mon Amour is a glorified Flappy Bird clone but the quick pick-up-and-play approach is way more addicting than it has any right to be. A run might last a few seconds or just a couple minutes and is that perfect game to play a run or two each day when you get home from work. In fact, the very first time you play this game you will die within the first second, guaranteed. There is no tutorial because there doesn’t need to be one, and dying immediately that first time serves a purpose. A difficult, ludicrous arcade experience like this shouldn’t this fun. On paper, this game should only result in frustration. Although this game will easily make you scream, it will also keep your hands placed firmly around the controller.