Hello and welcome to the first installment of a new semi-regular feature, the Freeware Spotlight. This is an irregular series where we shine some light on little freeware gems that could use some attention.
This month, we take a look at Mono, a sensationally unique title produced by BinaryZoo.com.
Mono is, as described by the website, "part Asteroids, part Robotron, part PaintShop Pro", and if that description makes it sound like a fast-paced arcade game with a trippy Minter-esque style, then it's a good one. The player starts off as a small circle at the middle of the screen, constantly firing, and larger colored circles are slowly drifting in to be shot. The ship has free roam of the screen and is controlled by the mouse, and direction can be changed by either holding down the right mouse button for a full 360 degrees of rotation or using the W/A/S/D keys. At first things are simple, the mouse controls make for zippy but controlled movements and the circles break apart in standard Asteroids fashion, but then things get tricky.
You see, the circles come in one of three different colors, and as they get shot they leave behind a splotch of color on the screen. Part of the object of the game is to use these colors to cover the entire playfield, but the colors also have an effect on the gameplay. Run over a patch of red and the enemies return fire more often, run over green and the enemies move faster, run over blue and they home in on the player. And of course, once the colors have been built up from constant enemy destruction, run over an area where all three colors are left behind and watch out as all the effects occur at once. Then, after a certain percentage of the game screen is covered, the background starts to undulate. The effect this can have on the player's vision as they try to dodge enemy fire and survive the chaos can make even the most steely-eyed gaze water up.
Mono is a fairly basic shooter at its heart, though. Zipping around a one-screen arena while shooting and dodging an endless wave of enemies will never take a Pulitzer Prize for game design. It can, however, make for a very fun evening of gaming, and with a total cost of $0.00, this can only be a good thing. I will offer one piece of advice for those who think this game is worth playing -- don't forget to blink!
Interested gamers can download Mono here.