At first, I really didn't know what to expect when I started playing Bandai's cult classic, Monster Party. Was this game supposed to be a parody, as its title seemed to suggest, or a horror game, as the cover conveys? After playing through this odd 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System title, I can honestly say, I still have no idea.
This isn't a bad thing, as Monster Party's unusual blend of horror and humor mesh nicely, leaving players with a quirky story and fun gameplay that defiantly overcome all doubts you may harbor towards this Bandai action game.
You play as Mark, a seemingly normal child who is on his way home from a baseball game. I say "on his way home", as in, he doesn't quite make it there because he is grabbed by a strange gargoyle named Bert. This gargoyle explains to Mark that his realm is being plagued by evil monsters and desperately needs Mark's help. Why Bert thinks a small child holding a baseball bat was the man for the job is beyond me, but that's how it goes. Bert then fuses with Mark and whisks him away to the "Dark World". Cue spooky sound effects.
Mark controls better than you would expect, shocking considering we're dealing with a small child and his baseball bat. Mark has the ability to jump, and swing his bat to either hit enemies or hit projectiles back at enemies, which is one of the main gimmicks in Monster Party. Most of the time, however, you will find yourself wanting to play as Bert.
In order to change into Bert, Mark has to kill enemies with his trusty bat until one of them drops a pill. When Mark gets the pill, he will transform into Bert for a short period of time. As Bert, you can fly, and shoot laser beams. As strange as it sounds, it's actually pretty fun.
Mark and Bert must traverse eight worlds, and destroy each of the mini-bosses before continuing on to the next world. Each stage has its own cliche theme, such as a water world, an Egyptian world and a haunted house. For the most part, each area is well designed and exciting to play. I found myself not minding the trips back and forth after dying.
Oh, did I not mention that part yet? You're going to die in this game. A lot. And when I say a lot, I mean anywhere from five, to thirty times in a single world. This has to be one of the hardest NES games I have ever played, yet it made beating each world even that much more rewarding.
As every game does, Monster Party did have some problems. When you start each level, your bar of 44 health points is only filled up to 12. In order to find more health, you must locate enemies that drop hearts, kill them, walk backwards or forwards in order for them to re-spawn, and then repeat the process. Each heart only gives you two pieces of health, so needless to say the process becomes very tedious.
As I mentioned earlier, most of the worlds were fun to play. When they weren't fun though, they were horrid. For instance, the haunted house world is filled with tons of doors that transport you to even more doors. Not only does it take forever to find the right combination of doors to lead you to the end, but if you die during this time, which you will, you have to start all over from door one.
Even with the very few problems I had with Monster Party, it was still an awesome game. I would gladly purchase it again if Nintendo released an updated version, or even a direct port of it, to the Wii/3DS online store. I would highly recommend Monster Party to anyone who's looking for an exciting, challenging game.