Lukas' Monster Party Review
Sweet action platforming gameplay with some pretty swell twists
The twists themselves are more innovative and just plain sweet than gimmicky
Graphics are good for the most part
Soundtrack is bloody amazing
Controls are fairly good
You move slow as hell
A little too much backtracking and memorization is required
Some backgrounds look bland even for a 1989 release
They try to get kids to play a fairly bloody game (for 1989)
Where's the party? =D
Monster Party was considered a cult classic, but of a different sort. When you think of a cult classic, you think of an unknown game with a cult following. This is different. You were either a part of the cult or you didn't like this game. I guess you can say that the cult has a new member – me! I like this game! It's not as good as other NES classics like Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda, but it's still a game you should get.
To begin with, the game looks pretty good. Some of the backgrounds look generic with just a solid color and a few bars or something of that nature to NOT look generic (which actually looks worse). Now, I'd have nothing against this, but the bars make some of the backgrounds look like piss. Most of the other backgrounds that haven't got a few bars on top look pretty good. Some are detailed, while some aren't. Everything else looks good too.
One thing that really boggles the mind... The monster world is about to be destroyed and a monster chooses a kid to save the world. That monster fuses with the kid and the kid goes onto the monster world... Which is full of blood! The blood itself is pretty detailed for 8-bit... But I'm just trying to think... Why a kid? Why not a swordsman? I guess the story would be a bit more clichéd if they put in a swordsman, but it'd make more sense than a kid. Does Bandai want kids to play this? Don't know about you, but if I was a kid playing this, I'd have nightmares! Not only that, but there'd be letters coming from soccer moms to Bandai up the ass if the moms saw their kids playing this game BECAUSE OF THE BLOOD!
But really, I just can't figure it out... I mean, yeah, it's an 8-bit game, you're not meant to care for the story. However... seriously... a kid? ...I just can't think of why, outside of trying to get out of the usual "big buff swordsman saves the worlds".
The game has some pretty good music within it. The boss music is quite tense and pumps the adrenaline, though it's a bit too low on volume for my liking, but it's one of my favorite songs from the entire soundtrack of this game. The soundtrack that plays throughout the levels are a little minimalistic but holy crap, the entirety of it is all good! When you play through the game and notice the soundtrack, it is quite simple, but it's of the good kind. Whenever I play through a game with a lazy soundtrack, I feel... Well, I feel a little less impressed about the game, put it that way.
This game hosts a pretty sweet soundtrack regardless. Is it scary? A bit. 8-bit horror tunes! It might've been fairly scary back in 1989, but not now in 2008. Good effort Bandai.
But what is the game like? Like how does this game play? Well, put it this way: You're this kid named Mark and you have to kill off a bunch of monsters with your baseball bat. Monsters such as gators, guys on fire, eggs that spit bubbles, heads that puke and blood-infested hounds (among others) are trying to kill you by either running into you or spitting projectiles at you. It's your basic action platformer. A lets you jump, B lets you swing your baseball bat and the d-pad (obviously) lets you move Mark around. Simple stuff. However, there are a few things that make the game different from other action platformers.
For one, this is probably the first time (or the earliest I can remember) that allows you to reflect projectiles that enemies fire when you hit them with your bat. Pretty cool, don't you think? Well, it's a bit hard to get used to, but get the timings right and you'll eventually master it. In fact, mastering this is required. Some enemies will be much easier to kill this way (like the eggs that would take like 10 hits to kill with your baseball bat will only take 1 if you parry its bubble back at it), but the bosses will require this if you come in as Mark. If you come in as the monster, screw it, just mash buttons and you win.
Speaking of the monster, that's the second and final change. The monster changes the gameplay a fair amount from your basic action platformer. Jumping gets replaced by flying (by mashing the hell out of the A button) and whacking the baseball bat gets replaced by a fairly ranged short blast looking attack (B button). Plus, this makes battling the bosses a hell of a lot easier.
But how do you become a monster? Kill an enemy as Mark, then collect the capsule that might appear and collect it. After a 5 second transition between human and monster (which is just some trippy, almost seizure-inducing sort...well, where Mark is, not the entire screen...I'm not sure how else to explain this), you become the monster and can terrorize bosses.
There is a problem though – It's temporary! You're only the monster for about...a few minutes last I counted.
So, basically, the aim of each of the game's 8 levels is to kill all the bosses to get the key to advance to the next level. The bosses are all located in different doors all over the game. Now, this sounds simple and all, however, there are more doors that are just empty! What a waste of time! Taking into consideration that the transformation is temporary and the monster is basically the only way to beat bosses without dying... /facepalm
This does NOT increase the challenge. This is actually mostly a waste of time. People reckon that it adds to a challenge and forced memorization out of the player. Guess what else is needed? Backtracking! Ah great... And don't most of you hate that anyway!? It doesn't help when Mike is fairly sluggish in movement too!
Basically, this game requires memorization, like which door holds bosses, which door is empty, what enemy has hearts to heal you (lose all your health and you die) and what enemy has the capsule to transform you into a monster. Take notes while playing! Oh...and write down the password when you get one after beating a level. When you decide to give up and then come back later on, you can go to continue and put down the password to... well, continue.
As for dying, you only get one life and one continue. There are no 1ups, so if you ever die, that's it, game over! If you decide to continue from there, you have to start from square 1. The very beginning. This will frustrate the hell out of you as you can basically die any time, like an enemy hitting you near the finish, or falling in a pit, or just dying to a boss. Holy damn...
Now, I'm going to sidetrack for a bit and talk about the creators. What has Bandai done aside from this game? A whole crapton of Anime-based games! Anything else? Not much else. You're probably figuring that if you didn't like the Anime-based games, you wouldn't like this game, right? Wrong! This game is WAY better than many of Bandai's other games! Oh, sure, the .hack series is pretty good...actually, I'd choose that series over this game, but the other Bandai games...yeah, I'd go for this game over most of Bandai's games.
So to sum everything up:
Frustrating at times, requires backtracking and memorization... But it manages to get a lot of things right, so if you like action and platforming, you'll get into this game maybe regardless of frustrations.
Basic controls and they're all good, really! My only real complaint is when you fight a boss as the monster – mash buttons! If you're not a fan of button mashing, this might annoy you. Best to get a turbo controller for this! But everything else is done pretty good. Tight and responsive is what these are, and a bit mashy at times.
Ehh... It's alright. Back then, it doesn't really matter, but seriously, I don't get why (outside of trying to do something a bit different) they had you play as a kid. To get kids to play this? Oh, sure, let's do it! Oh, but don't forget the blood and nightmare-inducing visuals! Little Timmy wouldn't be too scared... Just a little problem with the story, really...
Some backgrounds are generic, but all the other graphics look amazing for the time. The blood looks fairly detailed and the bloody theme is all executed well without half-assing most of it.
Some of the sound effects are a bit weak, but that's really the only thing worth complaining about. The soundtrack is pretty good, though nothing special, but fairly memorable.
The game takes about an hour or so to beat. There aren't really many secrets or any of that stuff to want to keep playing after the first time... Maybe to try and see if you can do better than you did before? I'm not sure, what would you do?
It's a fairly frustrating game with some required memorization (typical of 8-bit games and it is usually a good idea), backtracking (not cool!) and some practice (cool!). However, it can also be fun when you know what you're doing! I sure had fun after a while! It just takes a while to get used to.
Monster Party is a game that you can really love or hate, depending on how you like this sort of thing and the theme I guess. Not sure why people completely hate this game, but you can see some problems with it. Those aside, you should at least give it a shot.
I give this a 3.7/5.0. Worth trying.