If you were to judge Monster Lab by its cover, you might be put off by the green monster head licking a massive snot bubble off of the gruesome face beside it. What you would be missing, however, is a well-put-together game for a younger audience that includes a variety of minigames, an extensive monster-customization system, and easy-to-learn battle mechanics. Monster Lab starts off as an intriguing monster-experimenting game in which you build your own walking freak show to duke it out against other abominations. The game starts to fall apart as you progress, though, when the Wii motion controls mar what could have been an enjoyable experience.
As the newest apprentice in the Mad Science Alliance, your goal is to master the three sciences--mechanical, biological, and alchemical--in order to create the perfect monster to do your bidding. One of the former members, Baron Mharti, has gone off the deep end and is wreaking havoc with his miscreants in the Uncanny Valley, and it's up to you to stop him. The narrative doesn't extend beyond that, but the over-the-top voice acting and well-animated cutscenes keep the story entertaining. The professors that you'll meet are a diverse and deranged bunch and the Baron is your stereotypical monocled villain, with a well-manicured mustache and a maniacal laugh. You'll also meet other amusing characters along the way as you help them with fetch quests and monster-slaying duties.
Monster Lab is about experimenting. You are responsible for collecting junkyard ingredients to create arms, heads, torsos, and legs. Once you slap the pieces together and bring your hunk of junk to life, it will be yours to control. You deploy your Frankenstein creation from the comfort of the mad science castle and supervise through a camera. Exploring the regions of the Uncanny Valley is similar to a board game in which you are restricted to preset paths. The areas aren't very large, but they're all uniquely themed and have their own charm. You'll track down items through minigames and fight monsters that get in your way, consulting your quest log for tips on what to do next. Gameplay does start to feel monotonous after a while, but it's the headache-inducing load times before and after each battle that slow the gameplay significantly. This is incredibly frustrating when you consider that battles can often be shorter than the loading times.
When you collide head-on with a monster, you'll enter an arena and face off gladiator-style in a turn-based match. The fighting mechanics are simple: Two commands are tied to each body part, and you select and point to the one you wish to use. Actions require energy, and you can take a turn to recharge when you're low. To win, you need to take out the opponent's torso, or if you want to be cruel, destroy every limb and knock off the head. Part of the strategy is anticipating what your opponent is going to do next, but most of the fights are ridiculously easy as long as your monster hasn't gone too long without an upgrade. After each fight, the only way to heal is to do field repairs, which involves completing a short minigame. It isn't terrible, but it does start to feel like an interactive load screen that you need to slog through so that you can get on with the game.