Monster Party

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Monster Party NES game cover

ConsoleNintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Famicom (prototype)
DeveloperHuman Entertainment
PublisherShinsei, Bandai
GenrePlatformer
Release Year1989, 2014 (prototype)
Purchase (NES)Click here to purchase from eBay.

Some of you may have heard of Monster Party from JonTron’s 2012 review—admittedly, that was where I first learned of the game too. But since then, there is more to be discovered about the game. At around 1:10 on that video, Jon mentioned that the game was originally going to be a nod to classic horror icons as well as being a much more morbid game.

And well, he be kinda right. Monster Party is particularly infamous for being an apparently different game during its prototype stages. The strange thing is that Monster Party was never officially released in Japan but somehow came to the United States as this goofy, slightly morbid game.

So if you have yet to experience this game’s weirdness, then now’s your chance.

 

Let the Party Begin!

Monster Party Mark and Burt

Monster Party follows the tale of a little boy named Mark and his encounter with an alien monster named Bert after a baseball game. Bert is seeking help on Earth in order to fight off evil monsters at the Dark World, so he picks the first human he finds and decides to fuse with him.

Yeah, I’m not kidding about that. Bert just melts on top of Mark and the two somehow become one being.

Sounds reasonable to me!

Interestingly, the game seems cute at first glance with its quirky premise. It’s a sidescroller where you play as a normal kid who attacks with a normal baseball bat. But then…

Monster Party NES gameplay
Things get bloodier.

Yeah. As soon as the first level’s scenery changes, you know you’re going to be playing through a freaky game. This song in particular helps set the mood.

As a result, some of the later levels will be in gloomier places and the enemies will be noticeably more monstrous. Despite that Monster Party is not afraid to show a lot of blood in one screen, it’s far from being the goriest game I’ve even seen. But at least for a NES game, it has some of the most blood I’ve seen.

But even with the blood, the game still finds strange ways to make you laugh uncomfortably. And mostly, it’s because of the boss monsters you’ll be facing.

Monster Party NES gameplay Sorry I'm Dead
Wh-wha…?

Yeah. Some boss fights aren’t even boss fights at all. You just wait until a question mark appears in the room and that will indicate the fight is done and over with. But it gets even weirder from there.

Monster Party friend shrimp tempura boss
What the fucking fuck?

You had to fight a hopping tempura shrimp, a giant cat in a box, a 1950s greaser guitarist, and a disembodied sphinx head that sprays out blood to accelerate around the room. This game is so over-the-top with its boss designs that it’s worth playing through just to see how weird it can get.

 

Objectives

Monster Party NES gameplay

In each of the eight stages (or “round” as this game calls them), you must collect a key to advance and find the exit. To do this, you must enter rooms scattered across the stage and defeat all of the bosses available. After you defeat all of the bosses, the key will appear in your inventory.

Mark uses his baseball bat as his main weapon to attack enemies, but he can also deflect projectiles with it for a much stronger attack (usually killing most regular enemies in one hit). You’ll find that this is also necessary for defeating some of the bosses, who often attack with many projectiles.

Specific enemies across the stage will grant you health powerups, points or pills. Seriously, little Mark takes pills which turns him into Bert.

Monster Party NES gameplay
I must be on serious drugs, man.

Bert is generally great against regular enemies and highly mobile bosses that are difficult to hit with Mark’s bat. He can fly and shoot lasers, but he has no means of defending himself against enemy projectiles. This makes it necessary for you to use both Mark and Bert strategically, as the bosses get more challenging throughout the game.

Monster Party NES face the music
And stranger too.

The game’s difficulty simply lies in the fact that you need to defeat all of the bosses in a stage with a single life. If you die, you have to start over. Granted, there are plenty of opportunities where you take a heavy amount of damage so you often find yourself killing some of the same enemies over and over for health powerups. It tends to get quite tedious.

Despite that, Monster Party is a fun little game once you get past its hiccups. It’s by no means perfect, but it certainly isn’t bad.

However, there are a couple of major faults.

Monster Party NES Round 6
Behold! The worst stage in the game!

Round 6 of Monster Party is simply abominable. Basically, the level is a big maze where you only have to fight a single boss to collect the key. However, it’s also tough to navigate and you also have to go search for the exit after you defeat the boss.

The worst part of this stage is those motherfucking flame projectiles that come out of nowhere. They spawn out of thin air at specific points, sometimes taking you by complete surprise. And whenever you pass the spawn points, the spawning pattern suddenly resets and you will be botched in. What a dirty trick.

It doesn’t help that this stage is pretty stingy in giving you health pickups, so good luck with that.

Furthermore, this stage has the most grating music in the whole game.

My ears are bleeding already. Have fun, assholes.

Monster Party NES gameplay

Round 7 also has a major flaw. Even though it’s a straightforward stage all the way through, there’s a glitch that can prevent you from finishing it. There are a total of three bosses in this stage, but you only need to defeat two to get the key and reach the exit. If you kill the third boss, the key vanishes. So what do you have to do? Commit suicide and start over.

Not as annoying as the bad level design of Round 6, but damn. That’s just BS.

Monster Party NES Round 8

Round 8, the final stage, is an oddity. For whatever reason, you start off in the middle of the stage instead of all the way to the left. This leaves players confused as they were unable to find the key. But as it turns out, the missing boss is all the way to the left of the stage.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a particularly brutal stage where you face off against the game’s toughest bosses. To make things worse, you have to fight the final boss after you reach the end of the stage. And should you lose, it’s back to the beginning of Round 8 for you.

Monster Party NES final boss

Fortunately, the final boss isn’t terribly difficult as long as you’re playing as Mark. As for Bert, though….

HEE HEE HA HA HA HA!

Good luck with that, fool. This boss loves projectiles.

After all is said and done, you’re faced with an amusing troll ending. It really does keep all the silliness together, as well as the dark humor.

However, we’re not quite done yet. One more thing to explore.

 

The Japanese Prototype

Next up, we’re going to look at the extremely rare Famicom version of the game. As far as anyone knows, there is only one Japanese prototype cartridge available in the world. Around 2011, someone clearly had a lot of money to drop and won the game in an auction for the amount of 483,000 yen. That would be approximately 6,000 U.S. dollars.

Jesus fuck. Where do these particular game collectors get their moolah?

And then in 2014, a ROM of the prototype was released to the public.

And so, I’m going to emulate Parody World: Monster Party and see what the differences are.

Monster Party Japanese title screen

So first off, the title screen is pretty different. Compare to the one that appears in the U.S. version of the game.

Monster Party U.S. title screen

So, perhaps the rumors are true. Basically, Parody World: Monster Party is going to to be a much grimmer game, right?

Monster Party Japanese Little Shop of Horrors boss

Well, sorry to disappoint but the prototype is largely the same game as the one released in the United States. It’s pretty much the complete game, with the biggest difference being the boss monster designs. And they’re very much blatant ripoffs of iconic creatures and monsters from other horror franchises, though that’s very much the point originally.

Monster Party Japanese Gremlin boss

There are parodies of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, Stripe from Gremlins, an ape from Planet of the Apes, a xenomorph from the Alien franchise, Medusa, the Minotaur, etc. Some of these bosses even have the same exact attack patterns as their altered designs in the official game.

There are also some minor changes in the regular enemy designs. The giant bats from Round 3 were originally Count Dracula sprites and there were jiangshi enemies in Round 7.

If I have to mention another difference, I’d say the prototype is slightly more difficult due to having less health pickups. But even then, this is not that big of a deal since you can grind for said pickups anyway.

Ultimately, same game. In all likelihood, the monster boss designs were edited due to usage of copyrighted characters. Hence, why the bosses in the U.S. game are overall goofier.

To conclude, Monster Party is an underrated platformer for the Nintendo Entertainment System and it’s a pretty short game. The parodies, mixed with some Japanese humor and zaniness, help make the game memorably bizarre. And if you like these types of games, I’d say give this one a shot.

Monster Party

Price Varies
Monster Party
7.66666666667

GAMEPLAY

8/10

    GRAPHICS

    9/10

      SOUNDTRACK

      7/10

        Pros

        • The bizarre dark humor is what really makes this obscure game memorable in the eyes of retro gamers.
        • The bosses are generally fun, both in their design and actually fighting them.
        • Being able to use two playable characters with very different abilities is a welcome change of pace, especially in this era of gaming.

        Cons

        • The game can be difficult due to requiring you to finish a stage on a single life. You may also have to grind for limited health pickups, making the game more tedious.
        • Round 6 is a terribly designed stage with projectiles that appear out of nowhere and a disorienting maze-like design that goes on for too long.
        • Round 7 has the glitch that prevents you from finishing the stage, though this is an easy bypass.
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