Couch Co-op games once represented a major pillar of the video game industry. Pong, Space Invaders, Super Mario Brothers, hell even Tetris were designed to be played WITH someone. Throughout the last decade, the importance of playing a game locally from the same sofa has become less and less of a priority. Finding a new unashamedly cooperative game has become a more considerable task than one might have ever imagined. As one who grew up battling enemies and monsters side-by-side with my older brother and my best friends, you can understand that when I uncover a new true multiplayer experience I am positively delighted. Enter Monica e a Guarda Dos Coelhos.
Monica e a Guarda Dos Coelhos is a delightful 8-bit romp. This should be said with utmost sincerity: if you do not enjoy or partake in any form of nostalgia for the 8-bit art style, you would be advised to not purchase this game. The old-school graphics reinforce an equally aged style of gameplay in a way that is unashamedly retro. In my opinion, the art style adds to the charm of the game, but I fully acknowledge that it will not be for everyone.
Down the gameplay rabbit hole
The game takes a classic approach to a tried and true cooperative gameplay experience: tower defense. But there is a unique twist to this narrative. If you happen to be fluent in Portuguese the secret may have already revealed itself to you. Monica e a Guarda Dos Coelhos translates loosely to “Monica and the Rabbit Guard” or “Monica and the custody of Rabbits”. Players play as Monica or one of her unlockable friends. Their goal is defending the Great Bunny God’s temple from the various dirt monsters which have overtaken the world. Not only this, you play as one of the Great Bunny God’s Chosen ones, destined to help defend the temples by firing mystical bunnies from canons at the pea-shaped enemies.
Affirmative, you did indeed read that correctly. Your purpose is to defend bunny temples from the spear holding, arrow shooting, magic conjuring dirt monsters. “Ammunition” is created by imbuing stone wrought rabbit statues with mystical energy. Powers are given by placing the rabbit simulacra upon one of three different ability alters. The mystical powers consist of Samson, Hercules, and Delilah bunnies which grant you the ability to destroy, stun, and slow enemies.
Strategy thinking required
The game’s strategy is partially built on the requirements to unlock all of the relics for the given level. At times players can construct only a certain amount of destructive bunnies. In others levels, the castle must remain at 100% health. These restrictions break up what could be a monotonous gameplay experience. The elements of crafting, shooting and cleaning each add a layer of complexity forcing the players to think multiple steps ahead.
On multiple occasions I found myself pausing to consider my strategy. How many resources would I need to create? What order would they need to be created? Several relic requirements also frequently dictate the annihilation of a particular number of enemies in a single attack. These restrictions force players to utilize either Hercules or Delilah bunnies to slow or stun some enemies while allowing an additional “wave” of enemies to assemble. This simple addition allows the game to become a far more enjoyable experience and helps it to avoid becoming repetitive.
Teamwork fail avoided
As previously stated, couch co-op games are some of my favorites. Times do arise where you want to play a game but find yourself without anyone to play with. In other games of this style like Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time, players are periodically given an AI partner to “assist” them in varying degrees of success.
Monica e a Guarda Dos Coelhos employs a different approach to a single player mode. Players control two playable characters, individually piloted by “switching” between them via a controller command. This permits a solo player to essentially be in two places at once. While not completely analogous to a secondary player it does give a solo player options. They can place characters in various places on the map, like the resource bins and canons for instance, and swap control more quickly than running about as a lone character. I found this to be a pleasant touch and allowed me to have an enjoyable gameplay experience even though I did not have a friend to join me the entire time.
I honestly don’t have many negative things to say about this game. If 8-bit isn’t your thing you will not enjoy this game. If you aren’t one who typically enjoys tower defense games, you’ll likely want to hop on by. My only discernable complaints are that the game is lacking a story and could be described as a bit simplistic. While I find the game charming for what it is, “protect the Bunny Temples” and help the “Great Bunny God” are pretty weak narrative tent poles. As I stated previously, there are times where the gameplay could easily become a bit monotonous for some players. I found the retro-nostalgia strong enough to keep my attention and not find the game boring or overly repetitive. After unlocking all achievements and hitting one-hundred percent the game would most likely be uninstalled only to be pulled out at parties.
Is the Bunnymoon Period over?
Monica e a Guarda Dos Coelhos is a fine game. It is based on an absurd, yet an amusing concept that allows players to experience a different gameplay style. While the concept is fun the game itself is not industry changing. Nor do I think it set out to be. The developers seem to have set out to produce a fun, retro-styled game based on a popular Brazilian IP. They executed that idea and did it well. Good couch co-op games are hard to find. I’m happy to report that this game can safely be added to that list of “good” games. It is not a life-altering experience, but it is one that you will spend some fun hours on the couch playing without regretting your purchase.
Allen works professionally in photography, cinematography, and marketing. As a lifelong camera junkie, he channels his creative and technical energy into the craft of photography, both in digital and analog processes.
He also loves playing games of all sorts, shapes, and play styles. Most days when he’s not doing photo related things he can be found playing D&D, Diablo III, Battlefield 1, or something retro. He also is a co-host and producer on both the Min/Max Podcast and the Deep Pixel Podcast.