Nintendo Entertaintment System: Monster Party
Horror / Adventure
The story centers on a child named Mark who is accosted on his way home from a baseball game by a winged, gargoyle-like alien named Bert who seeks assistance in ridding "evil monsters" from his realm, "Dark World". Being the first person he encounters, Bert tries to enlist Mark as his aid in battle. Mark is reluctant to help, but Bert explains that anyone will work, including a young "Batter" much like himself, showing him that his baseball bat can be easily enough a "weapon" to fight enemies. He quickly whisks him away, and on the way to Dark World magically fuses himself to Mark so that they are one being (with Mark able to transform into Bert for a limited time).
***Please be aware that the review below, while attempting to avoid spoilers, does include some tips for gameplay.***
Monster Party, a 1989 video game released in the United States by Bandai for the Nintendo Entertainment System, is a deceptively difficult game that always stuck out to me since my days of renting it from the local video store as a child. As an adult, I recently picked this title up in order to relive those days of 8-bit gameplay. To my pleasant surprise, this game delighted my inner child as much today as it did when I was 8 years old.
Monster Party was by no means a household name when it came to the gaming business in general, or even the NES specifically. It has more of a cult following in today’s market, and it seemed to slide right past the censors with the word “hell” and considerable amounts of blood in what was considered a child’s video game (even in a horror video game), surprising considering Nintendo’s strict standards during that time period.
At first, you might think you picked up just any old video game when you first start playing (aside from the slobbering, wide, monstrously toothy mouth and eyes that greet you at the title screen). You are introduced to the story line, which depicts how the main character, Mark, meets Bert, a very interesting monster indeed (who you get to play as in brief intervals thanks to a special pill – but more about that later). There are hills and doors and a few enemies, but nothing serious, right? Then, you pass a certain giant cactus and the whole world changes, even the music, into something darker. Then the bosses get tougher. And you realize – this is a special sort of horror game, isn’t it?
As the enemies get tougher, I realize how much I’m starting to rely on transforming into Bert – who could easily be used to beat the game, so why does he need Mark? We’re never told that answer, but being Mark definitely makes the game more challenging and interesting, since you are armed with a baseball bat instead of Bert’s awesome wings and laser beams.
The bosses range from hilarious to just plain spooky. Catch the dialog of each one – there’s always something interesting, even to chuckle at, in their words. But don’t let the simplicity of this game fool you – if you aren’t careful, and sometimes even if you are – you can die quickly and end up right back at the start, so be sure to write down any passwords that are provided to you to start at the appropriate game level each time you play or take a break from playing. Another tip worth noting when playing this game: you earn the pill that transforms you into Bert by killing enemies. You can move back to the previous screen, and enemies reappear instantly, increasing your chances of getting that pill, which is a good thing to keep in mind when you are near a boss.
Overall, this is one of my top-rated games of the Halloween season, or year-round, for that matter. The story line is funny, light-hearted, creepy, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The graphics were great for the time, and still are, in my opinion. I recommend this game for anyone who is looking for a different, underrated type of horror game that pulls you into another world for some great 8-bit fun.
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Great old-school game that can be enjoyed by the novice and experienced gamer alike. Definitely a special treat for those those appreciate horror with a sense of humor.
Probably not a game for everyone, especially those who prefer a modern, 3D/High Resolution gaming experience and/or dislike horror and a sick, silly sense of humor in general.