[WACKY! WACKY! WACKY!]


[THE MYSTIC CAVE]
Console: NES 

Company: Bandai 

Release Date: June 1989 

Genre: Action 

Number of Players: 1

Save Feature? Believe it or not, Yes! 



Every once in a while, a game comes along that for reasons that can't be explained, winds up being nothing short of magical. That is how I felt about Monster Party. While the game itself is outstanding in virtually no aspects, it is magical in all of them. Few games carry an aura of nostalgia and a longing for the simplicity of the NES era like Monster Party.

Overview: Although the game features traditional side-scrolling action, there is no game out there quite like Monster Party. Everything about this game is wacky! From the hilarious intro to the craziness that ensues throughout the eight worlds, Monster Party is as zany as it gets. It basically involves Mark (the hero) and his alien buddy Bert taking on the countless hoards of evil monsters living in Bert's magical universe. While Bert attacks with a laser beam, Mark fights with, of all things, a baseball bat (yes, a baseball bat). Unconventional, yes. However, there are few objects out there that pack more punch than a hefty slice of lumber (or so we hope).

What makes Monster Party unique is that, in addition to the main level, there are countless doors in each world that hold either unknown creatures or "?" items that replish health and magic. While this game is a traditional side-scroller, there is more to the game than mindlessly trekking through each area. You have to figure out which doors hide the bosses and which ones hide the goodies. Strategy is important as well. Mark can switch into Bert and vice-versa so it is important to learn which character fights well against a particular boss. Since Bert can fly, he is particularly effective against large bosses with weak points on their upper body. The opposite is true of Mark with his knack for low blows (no pun intended).


[ROUND 1] [THE CALM BEFORE THE DREADED ROUND 6]


Graphics: While the graphics in Monster Party are pretty average in terms of overall quality, they do a perfect job of creating the game's magical atmosphere. My favorite level has and will always be World 3. There was just something deliciously nostalgic about playing this game at night with friends back in 1989 and seeing the eerie blue glow in the background of the cavern. It's hard to explain but those were wonderful memories for me.

The graphics themselves are colorful (Worlds 1 and 5 especially) and seem to almost create a humorous spin on the whole "scary" theme. Although you fight skulls, man-eating plants, giant pumpkin-heads, and even Death himself, there are a lot of hilarious bosses in the game! The giant shishkobob (You heard me right!) and pumpkin man look so funny! The various expressions and animations are so funny for an NES game! In addition to some of the funny graphics, there is a lot of comical dialouge in this game. Every boss says something before you fight him/her/it and sometimes it is downright tear-jerking! The first boss of the game (a giant plant) says "Come here baby!" while the zombie duo of World 5 want you to "watch them dance." There is also a psycho cat that says "Meow! Meow! Meow!" and even a Punk Rocker in this game! (what the heck?!)

In addition to the wonders of World 3, there are several other worlds worth mentioning. The opening world gives you a good idea of what to expect throughout the rest of the game. There is a cheery sky, ridiculous-looking enemies, and platforms containing happy faces on them! Everything looks so happy and cutesy. However, once you get about halfway through the level and step past the giant tree, everything transforms! The sky looks the same but the monsters look much worse, the happy faces are replaced by evil skull faces, and the music even sounds eerie. Even though the intent was probably to scare the game player, I thought that it was hilarious! The sharp contrast between good and evil was just too much! World 6 was also nice visually. It consists of a maze inside of a haunted mansion where all of the furniture goes nuts! Tables and chairs will relentlessly attack the player here! Even a pair of pants gets into the act! (no joke!) Lastly, who could forget the final world in the sky? Being in the clouds with stars all around and an enchanted castle around the corner was so cool! Overall, Monster Party didn't have outstanding state-of-the-art graphics but it had what matters most: a lot of heart.

Music: Like the game's graphics, I found the music in Monster Party to be quite charming. Nothing really sticks out but I found all of the music in the game to at least be appropriate. Of course, I find all of the music to be extremely nostalgic so it is difficult to be non-biased here. I will say one thing: The music in Monster Party does a great job of complimenting the graphics and creating the unique atmosphere that I mentioned earlier.

Like the graphics in World 1, the music changes dramatically from a cheery tune to a darker, eerie one (the latter one is great). The soft and mysterious tune that plays in the Dark World Cave of World 3 is so simple yet so perfect for that world. I also liked the somewhat cheery tune in World 5 and, while it isn't my favorite track, it's the one that really sticks in your head (and sticks in your head...and sticks in your head...) The tunes that play in Worlds 2, 4, 6, and 7 are lousy stand-alone tracks but, within the game itself, they do a great job. The World 8 tune is perfect for the final level as is the ending theme. Heck, even the ending in this game couldn't be normal!

Play Control: Controlling Mark and Bert is as easy as it gets. As long as you can jump, fly, and hit enemies with Mark's bat and Bert's double shot, you shouldn't have too much trouble. The only thing that you really have to learn in this game is how to time Mark's swing correctly. Learning how to hit enemy projectiles with Mark's bat makes the game a whole lot easier. With the right timing and correct angle, you can actually cause enemy attacks to hit the enemies themselves! Although the play control isn't up to Mario or Mega Man standards, it is still much better than I expected.

Challenge: While Monster Party isn't a very difficult game, the final three worlds can prove to be quite testy if you aren't careful. Even World 5 can cause problems due to the dancing zombies (Hint: Do exactly what they tell you to do.) What makes Monster Party tricky is learning where the various bosses are and figuring out their patterns. Of course, there are other challenges as well.

World 6 is where the challenge really begins! This world consists of an intricate maze in a haunted castle. I've been lucky before and got through without a hitch; however, there have been times when I couldn't escape this dreaded level for the life of me! World 7 is much easier if you're careful. While there are three bosses in this world, the Spider one near the end of the world actually takes the key (the item that allows you to go to the next world) from you! This can make life miserable as you have to backtrack to redo everything. World 8 is just tough because of the relentless bosses. Some of the strangest bosses in video game history make an appearance here too. A strange Indian-looking thing along with the pain-in-the-neck snake live here. The final boss doesn't disappoint either.

Overall, the challenge level of this game isn't great but it's good enough. While Monster Party can be a difficult game the first time through, it is pretty easy once you know where to go and what to do. I do like how Monster Party doesn't just challenge you with difficult bosses; mazes and other unique challenges await you in this wacky game!

Storyline: This game has to rank right up there with Blaster Master in terms of having one of the weirdest stories ever! I remember my good friend Wesley Messer and I having a good laugh when we first played this game. I'll give Monster Party this; it did have an unpredictable story...right to the very end.

Basically, the game begins with Mark walking home from a baseball game. Everything seems perfectly normal until Mark notices a bright star that seems to be coming his way! It turns out that the "bright star" is not a star at all but is actually an alien from another world! After recovering from a rough landing, Bert (the alien) explains that in his home world, evil monsters are taking over! Seeing that Mark has a weapon (his baseball bat), Bert invites Mark to his world in an attempt to eradicate the zany monsters forever! Being a naive kid who doesn't know any better, Mark decides to join Bert in his quest.

Lol...in terms of originality, how do you not give Monster Party a high score? Granted, it has to be one of the most ridiculous stories ever but, you have to admit that it fits a game that is equally absurd (yet in a great way!) I don't know; call me silly or ridiculous or whatever but I liked this story back in the day! It was so unrealistic that it was funny!

Funfactor: Monster Party is truly an enigma. This game looks painfully average on the surface yet it is such a fun game! There is just something magical about this diamond in the rough that I can't explain. I'll admit that nostalgia plays a big role here but the game really is a gem. It makes all the difference in the world when you've played a game growing up versus getting to play it for the first time later in life. Every time I play Monster Party, I'm not just enjoying a wacky side-scroller; I'm taking a wonderful trip down memory lane. :)

Negatives: Monster Party is so hard to figure out because there is nothing truly outstanding about this game. The creativity and intangibles are what make this game great...otherwise, Monster Party would just be another forgotten NES side-scroller.

Although I find the music in this game to be very nostalgic, some tunes are definitely on the average side. The music in Worlds 2, 4, and 6 are appropriate but are simply average; they don't really go anywhere.

Most video game fans would see the game's story as being its glaring flaw. While Monster Party is lacking in this area, I like the fact that it is so original as well. Even if a story sounds ridiculous, I try not to penalize it too much for being different (even if "different" means something like this...lol). This was clearly reflected in my Blaster Master review where I gave the game's story a 4.0 even though it seems poor on the surface. I don't plan on giving the Monster Party story a high score because, frankly, it isn't a great story by any stretch. However, I simply ask you this: "How would you change the story?" Monster Party is such a wacky, zany, enigmatic game that I couldn't possibly think of a more fitting story. Besides, back in 1989, much less was expected in terms of the game's story. The gameplay was paramount (too bad that's not the case anymore).

[CARTOGRAPHERS PREPARE!]

Ratings: Graphics: 3.8 Music: 3.8 Play Control: 4.2 Challenge: 4.0 Storyline: 3.7 Funfactor: 4.5 Overall Score: 24.0 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Bronze Bravo

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Last Updated: May 21, 2006
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