Fishin’ for funky fresh beats.

Pole: check. Tackle: check. Headphone jack: check. Well then, I guess it’s time to go fishing …sort of. Welcome to Monomals, a game in which you are a DJ going fishing for exotic critters you can use to make your music. I know it sounds a bit odd, but it’s a video game, so let’s go with it.

While you and your buddies hang out on your DJ beat boat, you cast your headphone jack lure over the edge to go fishing for the elusive elements of your new jams. You will need to land different kinds of fish to create beats, tones, effects, and the like so you can create your next big hit.

Monomals offers you two arenas in which you can find gaming happiness. The first is the obstacle course/puzzle, action driven portion, while the second is creating music in the tunes-builder section. 

Let’s get into the obstacle course/puzzle part first. As a humble headphone jack/lure, you don’t seem to have much to do. The left control stick gets you moving, and the X and A buttons give you a bit of a boost (very short duration). That’s about it for getting around until you find a level with a water jet pack. Jump out of the water, dock with the jet pack, and now you get to use a water jet to get around out of the water. Not only does the jet pack let you move around, it becomes a defensive weapon for dispatching critters that want to munch on you. You can also use it as a demolition tool to break down brick walls so you can keep advancing or claim rewards.

Speaking of rewards, the levels will feel a bit familiar to the Nintendo ninjas out there; there are coins to collect, “hidden” areas to find and access, and special tokens to grab along the way. The coins can be used to buy effects and such for making your music, and for accessories so you (the DJ) can look as cool as possible while you spin your groove thing. 

At the end of each level is a sort of boss battle which, if you win, nets you one of the Monomals you can use to make your music. The battle is less about combat and more about puzzle solving, and there’s some hazard avoidance/elimination thrown in to keep you on your toes. There are several action levels, but I can easily see players wanting more, just to keep going. You don’t have to create tunes; you can just play the levels if you like, and they are fun enough on their own.

Each level has plenty of replay potential because you do have to navigate a maze of passages, explore for hidden sections, discover hidden treasure, and (when you feel you are ready) take on a timed event challenge. Brace yourself, the timed event is not as easy as you might think, especially with some of the hazards you have to clear.

As for the music creation portion of the game, it’s a bit more sedate and will take even more time than running through the levels. As you collect the special fish at the end of each level, they become elements you can use to create your music. The music creation screen lets you use the Switch’s hardware controls and the touchscreen, so it isn’t too difficult to put things where you want them. There are critters and lanes for beats, bass, and melody. There are effects you can apply and loops you can build. It takes a while to get comfortable with the process, but once you get the basics down, you can have some fun here as well.

Be ready to spend some time getting into a new frame of mind when you build your tunes, as it’s a whole different process and pace from the rest of the game. If you really get into it and take your time, you can create some really cool tunes. You can even use them as the soundtrack for the game and share them with friends.

Monomals’ price tag (at the time I’m sitting here typing this) is only $19.99, and it’s worth every bit of that for gamers of any age. It’s fun and engaging, the visuals are colorful and interesting, and the stock soundtrack has a decent groove. If you’re looking for a game which is just fun to play with enough challenge to keep you coming back for more, this is a really good option.