Monster Party


Review by Mike Barbato



Graphics: 7

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

In all my years as a gamer, Iíve played quite a few weird games. Parappa the rapper, Mister Mosquito, Space Channel 5, you name it, Iíve probably played it. But there are few games that are as incomprehensibly weird as Monster Party.

Monster Party is the story of a young boy named Mark, who, while walking home from a baseball game sees a star so beautiful, it makes his eyes moist (Thatís the gameís choice of words, not mine). However, this star is actually a Gargoyle, named Bert, looking for hero to save his planet. He apparently mistakes Markís bat as some sort of legendary weapon, and though Mark makes a noble attempt to explain that said bat is not at all special, Bert reassures him that "Bat, batter, anything is fine!," and whisks him away to the unnamed monster planet. Complete insanity is soon to ensue.

The first thing youíre likely to notice about Monster Party is that the screen displaying your current stage is filled to the brim with blood. Thatís right, blood. Nowadays, blood in a video game is far from uncommon (quite the opposite, actually), but around the time Monster Party was released, Nintendo was known for removing anything that might be considered offensive or controversial from all games released in the U.S. However, Monster Party somehow managed to evade Nintendoís censors. The stage screens arenít the only gory parts of the game, either. After passing the large, cactaur-esque tree about halfway through the first stage, the entire world goes straight to hell. Lightning flashes, and the once smiling, blue happy-face blocks are transformed into skulls, with blood oozing from every orifice. The music changes from a upbeat tune to a haunting, unsettling piece. As a matter of fact, this drastic change is downright scary. I actually have memories of playing this level as a child and being quite disturbed by it!

Monster Partyís Graphics and sounds are nothing too special, though they get the job done. The sprites are generally colorful, though their animation is somewhat lacking, with only a few frames of animation for each, if even that many. However, whatís somewhat surprising is that each and every level has itís own individual enemies & bosses. Thatís right: No palette swaps or repeated enemies here! It really helps to give each level its own individual feel.

As far as music goes, it doesnít really stand out, besides the 1st level music that I previously mentioned. Most level themes are only a few notes long, with said notes being looped endlessly. Itís certainly not bad, if unimpressive. However, one level has an endless "wind" sound effect in place of music, and itís downright painful to listen to. I actually had to mute the game to keep my sanity, something that very rarely happens.

At itís heart, Monster Party is a basic platform game. One button jumps, while the other swings Markís bat to attack his foes. Mark can also find a pill, which allows him to transform into Bert for a short period of time, giving him access to Bertís flying and eye laser abilities. To clear a level, Mark must find all of the boss doors scattered around each level, defeat each boss, collect the key that each drops, and find the exit. However, it is Monster Partyís presentation that sets it apart from most platformers and gives it itís own sense of originality.

The enemy and boss design is downright bizarre; Through the course of Markís journey, youíll encounter walking pairs of pants, flaming high school punks, demon umbrellas, a legless punk rocker, a wishing well, and my personal favorite, a giant fried shrimp/onion ring/shish-kebob. Youíll find yourself compelled to keep playing, just to see what insane monster the game throws at you next. Itís not a very difficult or long game (Itís actually one of the few NES games I can beat without cheating), so itís quite accessible to any gamer.

One of the most interesting things about Monster Party is that it is a Japanese-developed game that only saw release in the U.S. Also, previews of the Japanese version showed a much different game than we got. Many of the monster designs were completely different, and the game had a more frightening tone to it. Hopefully, a prototype will be discovered someday.

Anyone who owns an NES has absolutely no reason to not own Monster Party. Not only is it dirt cheap and common, it embodies the creativity and developmental freedom so lacking in many of todayís games. For this reason, it deserves a spot in every gamerís collection.


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Last updated: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 06:01 PM