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Let's Play Monster Party (One Off #3 - Chapter 1)

Posted October 19th, 2016 at 11:21 AM by Rainbow Chara X
Updated October 8th, 2017 at 11:39 PM by Rainbow Chara X
Tags one off


Really, this one speaks for itself.

Say hello to Monster Party, a unique game in the NES's lineup that's primarily remembered for its bizarre nature and what it could have had. Monster Party is interesting in that it tries to be a tribute to B-horror and movie monsters in general while delivering its own unique charm. I mean, just look at this box art.



Not only is this great art, but it sets the tone of what we're getting into. Since I've already kicked off the spook season with The Haunt, I feel it would be a perfect time to play this - on top of reliving some of my memories from like 2007 or so because I discovered Monster Party via Trsrockin Rose's retro game reviews and just thinking about that time really takes me back.

Without further ado, let's do the monster mash. Hit it!



Chapter 1 - Into the World of Monsters
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Spoiler:



[Various monsters walk past the screen - Title Screen Theme]

That is one kick-ass title screen - the music and the cheesy monster drooling slime-blood enhance the charm for me. Also, fried shrimp are enemies in this game...

I'm just warning you now.



(thank god for the cutting room floor)

See, one of the most interesting things about Monster Party is that the prototype and the game we got have some hefty differences. The slime is blood and we have a zombie head as the cursor, along with different monster designs all around. The funny thing is that this was the only gory aspect of the game that was changed as we'll see in a bit.

Personally, I prefer the green blood/slime screen with the eyes because it sets a better mood for "wacky crazy monster game".



[Current OST: Prologue]

"He looked up and saw a bright star."

Oh boy, we're in for an adventure today. This song, by the way? Easily my favorite out of the entire soundtrack and probably some other games. It's a really nostalgic track for me.



"So he didn't notice that the star fell and landed right in front of him."

This sure made my eyes moist too... from the stench of cheese.

Reading this out loud is making me bust a nut because that's really what they went with. If you're wondering what changed in the translation... nothing. It plays out almost identically but with different names, so there you go.



Oh. WELL OKAY THEN!

Mark has more balls than me if he's going to talk to a magical gargoyle bird man that just fell from the sky... and he's only a kid. He sees this sort of thing all of the time.



: "I'm Bert!"

... What a majestic name for an purple alien gargoyle.

To be fair, his name in the prototype is something more fitting like Varyu... but they went with Bert in the US edition. I can't help but think of that dude from Conker's Bad Fur Day whose sole purpose was to give you sentient cheese. Or worse, the Sesame Street character.

: "What's up?"

Just... casually talking to a monster. Mark doesn't discriminate.



"Evil monsters are out of control in my world. Come and help me."

Aren't you expecting a bit much from Mark?

: "I'm afraid to fight the evil monsters."

See? Can you blame him?



: "This isn't a weapon, it's a bat!"

I'm pretty sure bats are the quintessential improvised weapon. Then again, he's no Ness.

: "Bat! Batter! Anything is okay! Anyhow, let's go!"

Wait, what--



: "Mark, my planet is dangerous. So we must act together."

He straight up snatches Mark away to fight the evil monsters despite telling him no. I guess the moral of the story is to never trust purple space Falcos or you'll wind up like Mark.

: "How?"




I can't deal with this and the game hasn't even started yet.
We are in for a ride.

It's so silly that I can't help but laugh. Maybe that's the point. I sure know I won't forget it any time soon.



SWEET BABY JESUS!

That's a bit macabre for an NES game, wouldn't you say? The only game I know that can rival this sort of imagery is Sweet Home (also for the NES), a legitimate horror game, so god damn.


Nintendo of America completely dropped the ball on this one... which is very interesting considering they usually censored the muk out of games at the time (Example: Holy being changed to Pearl in the Final Fantasy games even up to FF6 on the Super Nintendo and so on.)

The fact this round screen exists completely intact is a Halloween miracle.



[Current OST: Round 1]

In a massive contrast to the bloody round screen, we're treated to a grassy wonderland that would be a bit too saccharine even for Kirby standards. We are suddenly attacked by what I assume is an evil, fiery version of Josuke Higashikata from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 4.

Like no joke, paint him purple and he's pretty much a prototype version of him:



Ah, jojokes.



In Monster Party, you attack by swinging your bat. It's short range but serves as a very effective reflector weapon as it can bounce back every projectile in the game. The cool thing is that reflected projectiles are guaranteed instant kills on non-boss monsters.


Not only that, you get a giant health bar - Mark is easily one of the most durable NES game protagonists I've ever seen, third to Red Ring Link with all the hearts and second to Samus with the Varia suit and all the Health Tanks.

The gameplay is surprisingly solid for what this game is all about and I can dig that.



To top it off, certain enemies drop certain items. Hearts restore two points of HP and it is very important that you grind the enemies that have them until they stop dropping them.



Among many of the monsters on Bert's planet are these helpless disembodied leg fellas that are stuck in the ground. I don't know what party this guy was at, but smashing his kneecaps with a bat is one hell of a way to go.



[Current OST: Boss Battle]

Our first boss encounter is with a ripoff of Audrey from The Little Shop of Horrors that shoots purple bubbles at you. The boss theme, despite being a tad repetitive, is another favorite of mine because of how sinister it is. It's either you fight or you die, which makes me think that Bert wasn't kidding.

Oh yes, speaking of Audrey...



(The translated text is "tralala")

I wasn't kidding when I said they were a ripoff. They were literally in the game but had to be changed due to copyright and became eggplant flower instead. They shot out music notes instead of bubbles too.



The fight itself isn't that hard, especially when you realize that Mark's bat is actually a chainsaw that can hit multiple times when you're in the air.

It rips Not-Audrey's health apart in a snap.



The sprite for the amp in the prototype was removed, but the actual collision data was not... so that means Mark is standing on thin air.



[Current OST: Game Over]

After getting ravaged by what was supposed to be an easy boss, here's the game over screen for you. The happy music is so jarringly out of place in this screen full of blood and skeletons that I can't help but dance along.

I love that Monster Party spices up its soundtrack instead of just having spooky themes from beginning to end.



Anyway, beating a boss nets you a question mark that has a random effect. It can give you a huge health boost, do something very interesting to Mark or just give you points. If there was any game to hate the arcade-style point system, it would be this one for that last reason because unlike other games that have that, this game doesn't reward you with extra lives.


So... yeah, no point.



I do not like how these faces are winking at me.



Whenever you enter a room that doesn't have a boss in it, you get this message and then you leave. It's as pointless as it sounds, but believe it or not they had different messages for each level:
  • Round 1: "Nothing!"
  • Round 2: "Noothing!"
  • Round 3: "You lose."
  • Round 4: "Ain't nobody here."
  • Round 5: "Nothin' here, either."
  • Round 6: ... No text, apparently.
  • Round 7: "Too bad, there's nothing here. Better luck next time!"
  • Round 8: "This is the end. Please leave quickly."
They started out pretty snarky, but that last message is kind of dark. You'll understand what it means when we get there.



Burning Japanese high schoolers in pink hill and spike land. What the hell did I just write?



Well hey man, I didn't mean to bother y--

Wait a fresh minute, something's not right here

what the psyduck

Yep. It is exactly what it seems. This strange... dinosaur spider creature is speaking to us from beyond the grave. At least he's very polite and that's good because I don't know what I would do if this thing started attacking me.



To "win" the fight, you just have to wait around for the fly that's buzzing around to die of a sudden heart attack. It's just as ridiculous as it sounds and by god I love it.



... Huh? What the hell is happening to Mark?



Oooh muk, here we go!

Sometimes when you grab a certain item, you can change from Mark to Bert for a limited amount of time. He can fly and shoot laser beams, making him a far cooler character to control than Mark. It almost makes you wonder why Bert asked the help of a small child armed with a baseball bat if he himself is so badass.

Believe it or not, I actually have an answer for this that I'll save when we get deeper into the game.

(I should also mention that whenever you kill an enemy, they explode like they were made out of fireworks. It makes beating up crowds of monsters in this game intensely satisfying.)



You see this spindly, Cactuar-looking guy? He will rock our world.



[Thunder SFX, followed by the world shifting]

What did we get ourselves into?



[Current OST: Round 1 - World of Horror]



Oh dear god, we're in Hell.

The smiling blocks are now bloody skulls. The ground is slime and the music has changed from cheerful to slow and dread-inducing. The cactus is now melting and the pink hills are revealed to be rotting severed heads placed atop spikes. The world of monsters has shown its true colors and we can't go back.

This is easily one of the most graphic changes I've ever seen in a game, and the fact it's 8-bit only enhances the horror. No joke, I was legitimately terrified when I saw this for the first time and, despite how hardened I am of horror in general, it still sort of creeps me right the psyduck out.



Not helped when the other side of the world has these... deeply uncanny valley human-headed dogs.

Monster Party is gnarly, man.



It's one thing to have a tree with a face, it's another to have every leaf on the tree be a face. Mark was right to be afraid of this place, because jesus I'm losing my cool just going through this.

Oh god, the door. The door.

(By the way, notice how the color of the border has changed from blue to red. Yeah, it's permanently red now. Isn't that great?)



Whoof, okay, something that doesn't invoke primal terror from me.

Aw, I won't pick on you. You seem like a nice enough guy -



Bastard!

So... he says don't pick on me yet immediately proceeds to sucker punch me with tiny pumpkins to the nads. The worst part is that it's an effective strategy.

Pumpkin Ghost here is actually another edited boss, and easily the strangest of them all:



He was originally a blatant Planet of the Apes reference that was cut out due to copyright issues, and what we got instead was a pumpkin-headed ghost that has the balls to lie straight to your face and shove mini-pumpkins down your throat.

If this doesn't set the tone of Monster Party already then I don't know what to say.



Trick or Trick Kid here was so hard that I had to bust out Bert to beat him. While our player character is durable, that health bar can go down really fast if you're not careful.



When you kill all of the bosses of a level, you get a key that pretty much says "you're done!" so you can move on to the next level. Cool stuff.



Those hands serve as spikes, so be careful. (god, get me out of this horrible place already)



At the end of every level you'll find a unique door that can only be entered using the key. You get a cute little victory ditty and even a generous amount of health back, so that's neat!



The game uses a password system. It's servicable, but the best part about it is the catchy theme song for the password screen. I can't get over the hilarious contrast, okay?



Anyway, round 2. I suppose I'll include each round screen just to give a preliminary thought on the level.



[Current OST: Round 2]

We're in the Dark World sewers. Sure, it smells like a sceptic tank but it's a way better place than the freakshow we were just at.



Ahem.

FISH-FACE ON LEGS

What a wacky ass world Bert lives in. I've heard someone call the fish face monster something that looks like it came out of Action 52, which is both hilarious and a serious disservice to this game because you don't compare anything to Action 52.



There's also these terrifying wall mouths that spit blood at you. They're more annoying than anything else because they block your path.



The first boss of level 2 is a Medusa snake that hurls what seem to be smaller, fatter snakes at you.

The boss room changes every level, and in this one it seems like we're in what seems to be an artery cave with skulls entangled in them. God damn.



In the prototype, Medusa was more human. I guess they didn't want you beating up a woman, so they changed her into a non-humanoid snake. The things she shoots out are explicitly referred to as Tsuchinoko, a legendary japanese cryptid that resembles a snake, so I guess that makes sense.



Fun fact: You can bump your head against the ceiling and see Mark recoiling as if to say "damn, that smarts". Small detail but still very cool.



These crocodiles shoot their tails at you. Even the most mundane looking beasts have crazy utilities in this world.



By the way, the item that turns you into Bert is a pill. Yes, a pill.

Hey kids, do you want to turn into a magical laser shooting gargoyle? Take a pill. The system works.



One new enemy in the sewers are these eggs that shoot bubbles at you. This was another edited reference, as the eggs originally shot out facehuggers from the movie Alien:



Excuse me???

Yes, one of the bosses in the game is really an evil, sentient fried shrimp surrounded by what seem to be fusion pods from The Fly.



I warned you, man! The craziest thing is that unlike Pumpkinhead, this was always in the game. This is one of the examples of Monster Party being straight up weird and it is glorious. The joke is that fry and fly sound similar in Japanese, hence the fried shrimp and the Fly pods in the background.



If you inflict enough damage, the shrimp turns into an onion ring and then into a ke-bab. The fight itself is simple: you just have to find the rhythm to hit the damn thing, but the premise behind this is so baffling that I can't help but laugh.



Oh, you're gonna do some damage? No, allow me. (づ º v º )づ ︵ ┻━┻

Seriously though, the next boss is this haunted well that's actually based on a Japanese horror story.



The story is called The Dish Mansion at Banchō. The skinny of it is that a servant woman called Okiku was getting creeped on by a samurai called Aoyama. Aoyama, frustrated that she wouldn't get into bed with him, tricked her into thinking that she lost one of the ten delft plates that would get her executed if the family found out. The samurai tells her that he'll help her find the missing plate if she agrees to become his lover, to which she refuses.

In a fit of truly amazing rage, he chucks her into a well and she dies, becoming a vengeful spirit that tormented the samurai until someone found the last missing plate for her. A tragic story that, in all honesty, has no reason to be in this silly monster game but who cares because it's cool anyway. (Forgive me too, because that's the simplest I got with it and there's multiple versions of the same story)

The boss themselves flings plates at you in three different directions, but they're not too hard.



All in all, Round 2 was slightly easier if more cramped than the first level.



Round 3 might be one of the coolest levels in the game.



[Current OST: Round 3]

The Dark World Caves are oddly soothing to me. The background has this neat flashing effect and the music is appropriately atmospheric.

There are certain spikes that fall from the ceiling - you'll be able to tell if they're a different color from the rest.



There are bones about.



They take a lot of hits compared to normal enemies and that's a pain.



Their companions are these Haunter-looking ghosts that bob up and down making a silly face. In what I consider very clever censorship, these guys were originally Dracula lookalikes:



I think it's neat how they became bat-ghosts, given how vampires can turn into bats. That, and the game cover isn't technically lying because there is a Dracula monster in the game, it just got changed around for the English release.



Excellent punmanship. Not only does this minotaur man look really cool, but he moos every time you hit him and he throws cute little cows at you as projectiles. It's honestly kind of adorable.



[Current OST: Sphinx Battle]

My legs are asleep, he says.

This is one of the few bosses that have a unique (if grating) battle theme. I don't know who's saying this, but the invisible mummy is ready to tear you into shreds with his deadly bandages of doom.

I think they made the mummy invisible to not get hit with a copyright law for 1932's The Mummy, but it's such a stretch that I don't know why they bothered.



I mean look at that, I nearly died again! The game is going to make sure you know what you're doing - it is tough.



Oh my god there's umbrella bats. They're so cute.



Spiderman here was originally a far more terrifying creature in the prototype:



"Change!! Form X!"

Dear god, what the psyduck is that? That head with spider legs, my friends, is a reference to John Carpenter's The Thing. They paid homage to a lot of horror movies in this game and not just classic monsters. I find that really endearing, not gonna lie.

Both versions shoot out Xs at you and they are both one of the monsters that you can find walking across Monster Party's title screen.



The Dark World Cave, while soothing to me, is a rattata to go through. Everything gangs up on you in here, and the spider themselves was almost as hard to beat as Pumpkinhead. It's amazing how the edited reference bosses are some of the most difficult in the game.



Okay this one is going to be weird considering what we've just fought.



[Current OST: Round 4]

An Egyptian tomb level.

Despite you know, the last level having an actual mummy boss. The best part about it is that the Invisible Mumm-man isn't the only Egyptian-based boss in the game, as there's another one later on that would have been right at home here. But nope. That would make too much sense.



Two of the new enemies in this place are an invincible floating rock and a scorpion... that's enveloped by a graphical error. Oh well. They shoot brown globs at you, which I have to assume are dung mounds because I'm mentally a 9 year old.

There's also snakes because Egyptian tomb.



I did not expect to make that jump. What's inside?



A cocktease. Though to be fair, the only way to get back up would be to turn into Bert and there's no pills in this first part.



The crocodiles(?) in this dungeon don't shoot their tails but are slightly tougher. Prime example: They're biting Mark's foot here.



A better look at the scorpion and the dung ball it throws at you.



Well, when you're that big and wearing heavy armor, of course. Imagine how hysterical it would be if it had a Slowpoke (as in the Pokemon)'s face.

He chucks katanas at you and, true to his word, moves like a snail. The only part about him that counts are his legs, so you have to make those jumps count.



He's also the only boss to have a death animation. Poor guy.



Cat. Oh man, don't tell me we're about to beat up a cute little kitty.





NEVER MIND, THAT CAT HAS RABIES!

It's even shooting hellspawn and everything. You're probably gonna laugh when you realize what it's based off of, though:



... A Mogwai from Gremlins. They didn't even change the mini-gremlins, so instead we get a giant, coked-up cat that shoots out demon babies. Here's what I have to say about that:





[Current OST: Rocker Boss]

Rad. He even gets his own theme and everything.


Maybe I should have used the "rock our world" bit for this guy, but "face the music" is too good to top.

He's a nicer guy in the Japanese prototype because he actually goes "Nice to meetcha'". I guess that didn't sit well so they made him a hipster with corny music puns instead.



With that said, that's all I can handle for this one. Next time on Monster Party, we tackle the rest of the Dark World and cap off this crazy adventure. See you then.

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