Monuments of Mars

aka: The Monuments of Mars!
Moby ID: 2529
DOS Specs

Description official description

Monuments of Mars is a low-rez, early PC platform game sharing an engine with Apogee's Arctic Adventure and Pharaoh's Tomb.

A number of astronauts sent to Mars on a mission to explore the strange structures there have mysteriously gone missing. Now NASA sends its best man (you) to rescue them and, if possible, find out more about the mysterious monuments and their purpose. This perilous journey will take the player to the famous Pyramid, Fortress and Face of Mars, among other locations. Along the way he will collect various items and face deadly alien creatures.

The game is split into four episodes, the first one, First Contact, was distributed free as shareware but the remainder The Pyramid, The Fortress, and The Face had to be purchased from Apogee. Each contains twenty puzzle-filled levels, each of which is one screen large.

The game is entirely keyboard controlled but offers the player(s) a choice of action key settings.

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Critics

Average score: 80% (based on 1 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.2 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings with 2 reviews)

Visit Mars in all its four-color glory

The Good
In the past, Apogee Software created a series of ASCII-based games such as Diamond Digger, The Thor Trilogy, and the popular Kroz games. This all changed with The Monuments of Mars, a game that utilizes CGA graphics; and unlike previous games in the Apogee line, this game introduces an engine designed in a way that it cannot be played on an original IBM PC due to the amount of graphics and animation involved.

You are an astronaut that has to venture through 80 levels, spread over four episodes. Along the way, you do things that you would normally do in any platform game from Apogee. You shoot aliens with your pistol, flip switches, unlock doors, and make your way to the level exit. Also like two of the aforementioned games, Monuments makes uses the “Apogee Model”, in which the first episode is free to download and distribute, but you have to pay a small fee to get the remaining episodes and a few goodies. One of these is a hint sheet which not only gives you information on completing the game, but gives you access to the cheat code which you use on the option screen.

What is not included on this hint sheet is the fact that you need to conserve your ammo, if you can. You only start the game with 5 shots, so this is really important. There is no point in shooting aliens if there is enough space to jump over them. Even though you can get ammo packs throughout the game, you only get a measly 3 shots, and these ammo packs are usually found every two levels.

There are some amazing features built into the game, like both horizontal and vertical force fields, which you have to turn off using their respective switches; exit doors that require a keycard to open; and blocks that fall down and trap you or help you get to platforms unreachable by foot. These features add to the challenge of the game, and make you get through the level much longer than two minutes.

Graphic-wise, I think the aliens and robots are drawn nicely, and their animations are impressive. One of the aliens are a deadly version of the Yorp from the earlier Commander Keen games. I like the way your astronaut just vaporizes when you hit one of these enemies. The level layout is brilliant as well. The stars and planets suit the theme of the game, and I can imagine what this background would look like if Monuments ever gets a remake.

There are a few things I like about the game. One is the ability to customize the keys, and you can select from eight key configurations. The default is [Left Shift] to jump and [Space] to shoot, a configuration that is rather uncomfortable for me. After having played later Apogee games where [Left Ctrl] and [Right Alt] are the defaults, I found that this was more appropriate. You can try one of the configurations, and if you find it uncomfortable, keep switching to a different configuration until there is one you like.

When you get killed, you restart at the beginning of the level with the same amount of ammo that you had when you beat the previous one. You can die as often as you like, and you can go without saving and restoring for the entire game, as long as you don’t feel the need to switch off your computer. This “infinite lives” feature is also found in a few Apogee games released around the same time.

I discovered a bug, but it was a bug that proved much useful to me. Every time I saved on Level 14 of each episode and load it again, I warped right back five levels but this time I had 255 shots. It was easy getting through the levels again because I memorized how I completed each one before. I am not sure whether this bug appears in most versions of the game; it appeared in the version that I downloaded from the 3D Realms website. What I found amusing about this bug was the way the game would punish me by taking away almost all my ammo when I collected an ammo pack.

The Bad
The fire button, which is [Space] by default, is a bit sensitive; I tend to fire two shots rather than one. Also, I found the last two episodes a lot easier than the earlier ones.

The Bottom Line
In conclusion, The Monuments of Mars is a game that plays similar to Apogee's first two CGA games, but different features have been implemented, such as force fields, locked doors with card slots built into them, and blocks. Like the other games, you can easily get trapped in the level if you are not careful. Also, you have infinite lives, so there is no need to save and restore all the time. Monuments appeals to anyone who has found both Arctic Adventure and Pharaoh's Tomb not challenging enough.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2019

Simple but imaginative, fun and addictive game; should re-make for mobiles

The Good
Imaginative and fun. Sometimes frustrating but rewards with progression. Good enough to have me playing it for the last 10+ years of my life.

The Bad
too easy and as a result short; infinite lives makes it a complete-first-go game.

The Bottom Line
Rescue fellow crew men lost on Mars. Four episodes consisting of 20 levels each. Progress through each level avoiding enemies, using switches, lifts, keys,doors, gun, etc. Your classic platformer.

DOS · by James Ewin (2) · 2004

Trivia

Freeware release

The game was released as freeware on March 20, 2009.

Title screen typo

Scenario Software developed this game, but on the title screen they misspelled their company name as Scenerio Software (see the screen shots). Scenario Software also developed Dark Ages: Volume I - Prince of Destiny which correctly identifies their company name.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Erwin Bergervoet.

Linux added by Plok. Macintosh, Windows added by ZeTomes.

Additional contributors: nullnullnull, Pseudo_Intellectual, formercontrib, Cantillon, lilalurl.

Game added January 9, 2001. Last modified January 25, 2024.