Monster Party
Box Shot
Monster Party
Platform: NES
Publisher: Bandai
Designer: Bandai
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1989
Reviewed by: Rob Strangman

There were a lot of games released in Japan for the Famicom that never made it here for one reason or another. In Japan, a lot of "cute" games were big. Konami's Kid Dracula, Babyland, and Parodius were perfect examples of this. They were very cute, but were also very strange. That's not to say that we don't have strange games here, but Japanese tastes are a lot different then ours. Because of this, most of these games remained in Japan. Nevertheless, some of these cute/strange games did make it across the Pacific. Bandai's Monster Party is a perfect example of one of these games - very cute, but also exceedingly strange. . .

The games starts normally enough. The hero of the game, Mark, is walking home from a ball game when he sees a brightly glowing star in the sky. It glows so brightly that his eyes begin to water. Because of this, he doesn't see that it lands right at his feet. The star is actually a monster named Bert (?). Now, apparently this kind of thing happens every day where Mark is from, because he strikes up a conversation with Bert. If I was Mark and I saw this wicked-looking monster land right in front of me, I'd take off screaming. Anyway, Bert explains to Mark that evil monsters have taken over his planet and that he needs Mark's help to defeat them (I don't get that part, because Bert's pretty powerful on his own). Mark agrees to go with Bert, bringing his "weapon" (his baseball bat) along. Bert then tells Mark that they must work together to defeat the monsters. When Mark asks "How?", Bert responds "Like this!" and fuses with Mark. "This is how Mark's adventure began."

Still with me? Good, because if the story wasn't weird enough, the levels, enemies and bosses are really out there. There's a wide variety of levels, ranging from the first board, which I've dubbed "Happyland", to an Egyptian pyramid, a forest by a river and finally ending in the clouds. That may sound pretty normal, but the enemies inhabiting these levels are anything but normal. You fight everything from walking eyeballs to two-legged fish, possessed pairs of pants (!), the Elephant man (!!), and some really wierd looking dogs, among others. The bosses are even stranger. You fight a devil cat, a punk rocker, the Grim Reaper, a giant Venus flytrap (which greets you with the words "Hello baby!"), and a threesome that attacks you (one at a time) that is made up of a giant fried shrimp (!), a giant fried onion ring (!), and some other kind of giant fried food - like I said, strange. Then there's my personal favorite (one of the trickiest bosses in the game) - a pair of dancing Japanese zombies.

Graphically, the game is very good, if quite cartoony. The levels all look very nice (especially the first level - more on this later), the bosses are large and well detailed, and the between-levels screen is really cool looking - it shows three or four skeletons sitting in a lake of blood. The music changes with each board, and never gets annoying (well, perhaps the Game Over music can get to you if you let it sit there long enough.)

The controls are pretty good - Mark does what he's supposed to, without any hesitation. As far as weaponry, you have your baseball bat. That's it. There are no special items to speak of, except for one thing: the power capsule. When you find one, Mark transforms into Bert (hence the "fusing" part of the story). Bert is a lot more fun to use than Mark - he shoots lasers (which get more powerful as you go through the levels) and he can fly. Unfortunately, it doesn't last very long, so once it wears off, you're back to plain old Mark and his bat. You do have a very long life meter, and you can always find hearts to fill it up.

Now, about that first level - halfway through it, you find what looks like a giant fat cactus. To this point, the level has been nothing but happy face buildings and smiley doors (which is why I call it Happyland, but you've probably figured that out already), green grass and a bright sky. Once you step past the cactus, however, lightning flashes and everything changes. The sky goes dark, and all of the happy faces MELT, revealing the skulls underneath. The music also changes from a happy tune to a rather dreary one. The place looks downright eerie after the change. It's a really nice effect.

There is a password feature - the passwords aren't long and complicated like in some games (the passwords are made up of only nine characters), plus there's unlimited continues. There's a surprise twist to the ending, but I'm not going to spoil it here (here's a tip - shoot the last boss in the nose to kill him).

I'd have to say that Monster Party is an entertaining game, but EXTREMELY wierd. Those wacky Japanese - you've gotta love 'em!