One of the most underserved markets so far on the Nintendo has to be horror games. Sure we’ve had Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Konami’s Castlevania (and its sequel Simon’s Quest), but for the most part it’s bright blue skies and sunny days on the NES. Well, if you’re sick of the happy go lucky atmosphere of nearly every Game Pak out there, you should be excited to give Monster Party a try. This one’s oozing with blood and features monsters and crazy stuff of every variety. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of Konami’s games, but there’s still some good stuff to discover here!
Monster Party might sound like a cute take on a horror concept. Trust me, this isn’t a muppet-filled romp through Oscar the Grouch’s trash can. Instead you play as a pre-teen named Mark who meets a gargoyle from outer space named Bert (Ernie’s nowhere to be found). It turns out that monsters from the Dark Realm have taken over Planet Earth and the gargoyle needs your help to vanquish them! Easier said than done, right?
Mark is armed with a baseball bat for a weapon, because nothing says serious business like a piece of wood. Luckily that’s not all that’s at your disposal because you can grab a power-up that allows you to transform into Bert (you know, the gargoyle I just told you about?) and fly around. Why you morph into Bert is a mystery, but hey this is a game and we shouldn’t question impeccable design choices like this. As you fly around you can also shoot fireballs (eat that, Mario!), which not only have a better range than your bat, but also pack a more powerful punch. Clearly you’ll want to seek out these power-ups often because being a badass gargoyle is way more fun than controlling some loser named Mark.
This adventure features eight levels (ooooh, how original!), all with unique themes that mix horror elements and even humor together. Some of the characters and bosses you come across are absolutely insane and the text is hilarious at times, partly because it’s supposed to be and other times no doubt thanks to shoddy translation. As you might expect from games these days, traversing the various levels will result in you discovering a plethora of rooms and secrets. You’ll find yourself running and jumping through castles, lakes, caves and more as you try to destroy the monstrosities that lurk around every corner.
Most levels feature 2-3 bosses, which you need to defeat in order to obtain the key to progress to the next stage. This is a pretty straightforward action game, and in some ways it reminds of a much-improved Ghosts ‘n Goblins. What really stands out is the variety of creative enemies, the clever jokes, and the varied environments. Most of the bosses themselves are enormous and take up a large part of the screen. There are some really quirky ones, such as giant cat who hurls kittens at you, dancing zombies, a haunted wishing well, and a man-eating plant. There are plenty of homages to classic and recent horror movies.
The music and sound effects are unique and well composed and there are a huge variety of tracks. It’s a mixed bag, as some of the tracks are quite eerie and some sound like they belong in a child’s game. In fact, that’s sort of the through line of the game: part horror and part comedy – so I’m not sure what the target audience is. The visuals seem dark and sinister for the older gaming audience, but then there’s the strange comedy peppered in for younger kids. Still, the level 4 and 7 stages really stand out as having some great tunes, however many of the tracks are extremely repetitious, in particular the boss fight music.
In the end Monster Party is a good deal of fun, despite being somewhat quirky. The graphics are more extreme than those seen in other titles and I love the horror aspect. The controls are solid, but the short range of Mark’s basic attack (the bat) takes a ton of getting used to. Also the bosses can take a long time to take down thanks to the weak bat and the lack of power-ups. This game could take most people a pretty long time to go through, especially if it’s their first time, but luckily there’s a password so you can continue later on. If you’ve defeated Dracula and then pieced him back together again already, this one should be next on your list.
Monster Party Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 7.5/107.5/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
I had a really good time playing through Monster Party, and I loved the horror theme and comedic touches that go perfect with recent movies that blend the two genres. The gameplay itself certainly doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but the controls are solid and the experience is fun. The difficulty is average, and this shouldn’t give a skilled gamer a lot of trouble, but it isn’t a game you’ll burn through right away. I’m impressed with this unusual title and would recommend trying this game out.
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.