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Frankenstein's Monster Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 78%
Frankenstein's Monster
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
The company Data Age was a purveyor and a victim. They had plenty of technical mastery of the Atari 2600 hardware along the same lines as Imagic. The eight games that company produced in 1982 and 1983 were stunning achievements that still impress today, even outshining Atari's first-party titles. Unfortunately, Data Age made the same fatal mistake that took down Atari the following year. They spent a lot of money licensing the band Journey for the game Journey Escape (which wasn't a bad game at all if you remember my review of it), but the game didn't sell well enough to make up for the costs of the licensing. It's a similar scenario to E.T. except Journey Escape was actually finished and not just rushed out the door to meet a deadline. After that screw-up, Data Age was on borrowed time, pushing out games hoping to recoup their losses. Frankenstein's Monster was their last desperate gambit; though it failed to save the company, it was a decent game to go out on.

The game's technical mastery is apparent the moment you press the reset button. Color is everywhere, from the monsters to the player character. There's even a very great-looking gradient effect on the three floors of the levels. Animations for the monster and character movements are quite impressive by 2600 standards, actually on par with the Intellivision. The lightning effects put some NES games to shame. The audio provides a larger variety of sound effects than most 2600 games; the grinding sound used when Frankenstein's Monster wakes up and starts storming toward the screen can actually give you shivers even today. This is one of the best looking and sounding games in the whole Atari 2600 library.

Frankenstein's Monster (Atari 2600)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Gameplay is pretty straightforward. Your character is tasked with building walls to contain Frankenstein's Monster before it can come to life. The character starts on the top floor with the Monster while the bricks for the wall spawn on the bottom floor. The platforming gameplay is very similar to Pitfall with one major exception: whenever you get a brick to the Monster's enclosure, a dash segment comes up where you must dodge bats to reach the wall (similar to Journey Escape). The platform jumping is rather stiff which becomes an issue when the platforms floating on the acid pool start moving. The dash segments get annoying by the fourth one when the bats starting sweeping back-and-forth in irregular patterns. The switch between the two styles keeps the gameplay fresh enough to keep going; they just needed some extra tightening.

Frankenstein's Monster is a great early platformer, right up there with Pitfall. It had some issues but not enough to ruin the game. Data Age did an excellent job with this one. I'm convinced that if Data Age had started with this game rather than it being the company's swan song, the company wouldn't be six feet under right now.
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