It’s October, the month of spooky games. The perfect time for a Monster Party NES game review. I’ve actually been meaning to write this for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it.
When I was a kiddo, I lived out of video game mags. And while there was never a Monster Party NES review in Nintendo Power, it received decent coverage in the Game Player’s Strategy Guide to Nintendo Games magazines. If you’re not familiar with those (creatively-titled) magazines, let’s just say it was the Ghetto Gamer Magazine version of Nintendo Power. I had just a few, but Monster Party was an awesome presence there.
This game looked weird. There were talking plants and fighting food. But I never once saw the game in a store where I lived, either to rent or to buy. And that was just sort of how it was. There were plenty of other games to rent, and this mysterious Monster Party NES game just disappeared from my radar.
It wasn’t until much later, when I was shoring up my NES game collection last year, when I remembered Monster Party, how weird it was and how I always sort of wanted to try it, but never got the chance.
Today, a quick eBay search of “Monster Party NES” shows it at a pretty consistent $15. That’s a pretty reasonable price for such a cult classic. But is it any good? Let’s check it out!
When you first boot up Monster Party, you can see the weirdness. The title screen features a vicious, wide-mouth monster with dagger teeth and slime dripping from its jaws. Interestinglyish, in the prototype version of this game (which you can find online) has a pool of blood, rather than slime. Of course Nintendo wasn’t having that, so they changed it to slime. But there is still plenty of 8-bit gore and strangeness that’s surprisingly graphic for an NES title.
The game opens with a bit of backstory, which is also predictably bizarre.
Mark is out walking, when a flying demon/alien named Bert comes down and invites him to come help him because “Evil monsters are out of control.” Mark’s like, sure what the hell. Let me grab my baseball bat and we’ll go. Bert flies him away. On the way, Bert also makes an executive decision to fuse his body together with Mark’s. Mark’s just like, sure whatever bro.
Very strange. But Mark’s ability to morph into Bert lets him fly and shoot projectiles when he takes a pill. So that’s nice.
Graphics are a bit better than most of the NES games released around the same time. The character sprites are relatively detailed for being so small. There is a wide variety of bosses and enemies. But where the Monster Party really shines is in the freaky environments.
Halfway through the first stage, the whole game world turns from a happy forest full of smiling platforms, to a hellish world where your platforms are decapitated skulls bleeding from their eyeballs. I’m not joking. This thing is weird.
You play as Mark primarily. But giant green pills are scattered throughout the game world. When Mark takes a pill, he morphs into Bert for a little while.
As Mark, you can run and jump as expected, and you can lay flat on the ground and inch along like a worm. His main weapon is his baseball bat which is handy for deflecting enemy projectiles to cause damage. It’s also good for bludgeoning the crap out of your enemies.
Bert can fly and shoot projectiles, which sounds great. But Mark’s ability to return enemy missiles is a central mechanic to gitting gud at Monster Party.
Is Monster Party any good?
I actually wasn’t that into Monster Party at first. But now I’m not sure why I resisted it. Some of the stages do seem to drag on, and the action is a bit repetitive. But the interesting environments and the overall weirdness of Monster Party makes it a must-have for any collection. (Especially for your October collection of spooky retro games!)
So what’s the conclusion of this very-important Monster Party NES game review? Ghetto approved!–GG
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