Monster Bash (DOS)

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Written by  :  WJAndrews (35)
Written on  :  Apr 16, 2005
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Monster Bash is like a summary of old school Apogee titles

The Good

Every now and then, nostalgia really gets to me. Monster Bash was one of the first games I had for my PC - and managed to be the first full version PC game I ever owned. However, after coming back to it some years later and recognizing a few flaws that maybe I didn't catch the first time, my original opinion of Monster Bash stands - it kicks ass.

The idea of Monster Bash is similar to the game Alien Carnage, where levels are completed by saving all the hostages (or in this case, caged pets) and finding the exit. Naturally, in order to do this, some serious running, jumping, and climbing trees is in order. Monster Bash has everything you remember about old school platformers - jumping puzzles, powerups, cool sound effects, and total originality.

The controls are as top notch as they come. And they need to be. Monster Bash starts off somewhat unforgiving and by the end is just downright hard. Perhaps the trickiest part of this game involves the jumping puzzles, of which there are a lot, that involve you attempting to land on a platform, and instead landing on broken glass, a zombie, or a spear. Thankfully, Monster Bash has almost no death traps, as you will need to spend a lot of time learning to manuever.

When it comes to killing enemies, Johnny, our hero, gets a slingshot. While powerups for the slingshot are available, the majority of the time you spend will be with the most basic form, which is a rapid fire mode that launches smal rocks at a superhuman speed. The catch with Monster Bash is the nature of your ammunition Since you are using rocks, you will have to bounce rocks off hard surfaces to hit cages/zombies/werewolves that are tucked away. The powerups that are available are not too rare, but are extremely finite. When you pick up a powerful, every shot you fire from that point on will be "powered up", and each shot will drain a small fuel gauge that appears next to your life bar. Most of the time, this happens very quickly.

The gameplay in Monster Bash is basically a matter of those two things - your basic slingshot, and jumping. What makes Monster Bash great is that every situation it throws you in is clever. Past the first episode, kiss the "run and gun" levels goodbye. You'll have to do some downright devious shots to get through, and as the episodes get harder, you will get better. Much better. Or you'll die. It's worth saying that Monster Bash is hard - very hard. Starting from about the fifth level of the first episode the game gets unforgiving, and while it lets up in places, Monster Bash will demand the occasional ultra steep learning curve.

The Bad

This is Monster Bash's greatest flaw. Sometimes, the game is just too frustrating. Owners of the full version can use a cheat that will restore 5 lives to our hero, but at times this "cheat" feels almost necessary. Its unsatisfying to finish a level when you know the only reason you could is a cheat. Conversely, it's ultra satisfying to finish a level because you are an elite dood.

My other gripe with Monster Bash is its save system. "Saving" your game merely starts you off on the same level with however many lives you had when you started. If you lose progress, its gone. Period. The games "save points" are fairly common, but as soon as you run out of lives, you have to start the whole episode over again. And without the quicksave functionality we've gotten pampered with, this gets aggravating.

The Bottom Line

I heard Monster Bash described once as Ghosts N Goblins with a slingshot. This isn't too far from the truth (though Ghosts N Goblins is immensely harder). Monster Bash is a classic, and thanks to new emulation technology, like DOSBOX, you can now enjoy it again in its original glory, complete with sound and music.