Eets Munchies makes me feel like a designer. The game, by Klei Entertainment (Don’t Starve, Mark of the Ninja), stars a strange creature called Eets, which has no arms and is extremely hungry. Unlike most games, however, this game doesn’t allow you to control the protagonist. Instead, you manipulate the game’s environment with the goal of getting Eets past various obstacles.
Not only is Eets Munchies silly, fun, and challenging, it’s also an awesome educational game with a great spread of perks for families.
The plot of Eets Munchies is simple and inoffensive, as the game chooses to focus on the puzzles above all else. The player must carefully place items like planks, canons, whales, flying pigs, and hot peppers, essentially completing the level’s design to open up a route for Eets. If you can get Eets to the pink cake, the next level unlocks. If you can collect enough bonus treats along the way, you’ll unlock Mystery Puzzles, which are extra-tricky bonus levels at the end of the game.
Although there is basically no plot, the game stumbles a little by not rewarding players with an end-of-game animation before they reach the Mystery Puzzles. These puzzles are much more difficult than the main game, so if kids can’t complete them, they might miss out on the satisfaction of having finished a big stack of brain twisters.
But aside from this, the gameplay has a lot of awesome features for families. If the going ever gets tough, players can click the Hint button for a tip. Plus, the bonus treats add an extra level of challenge, which makes the game appealing to players at different skill levels. Younger siblings can focus on reaching the cake, while their big sisters or brothers can attempt a harder route.
If you or your kids are feeling creative, you can build your own levels from scratch.
Why It’s Important
Eets Munchies isn’t the first game to use level manipulation as the main game mechanic. Simulations like RollerCoaster Tycoon place huge focus on the freedom of design, while judging the player’s progress on the actions and feelings of characters they don’t directly control. Perhaps a better comparison is with The Incredible Machine, a computer game from the 1990s in which the player manipulates and constructs Rube Goldberg machines to complete simple tasks. What makes these games awesome isn’t just the encouragement of design, but the many, many failures that each player must go through before achieving success.
Yep, I said failure. Failure is awesome! In most American schools, standardized testing will often inadvertently encourage kids to get perfect answers for every question on the first try, which can create a lifelong fear of being wrong. The fact is, failing is a normal part of living, and being able to pick yourself up and keep trying until a solution is reached is much more valuable in the long run. Failures pave the road to success and teach us way more than immediate perfection ever could. Video games are one of the best mediums available for discouraging the fear of failure. And games like Eets Munchies, which actively encourage experimentation, are a great place to start.
Eets Munchies is challenging and fun for kids and adults. It would be a great fit for family game time. It encourages creativity and experimentation and appeals to players at varied skill levels. Whether you’re playing to build your own levels, or just to get through the game’s provided puzzles, the fun physics and quirky characters exemplify a lot of the best that family gaming has to offer.