Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Great Nintendo Horror Games: The Monster Squad

OK, so I've gotten a little behind in my planning for the Culturally Significant! Countdown to Halloween. You can't blame me, with a tight work schedule and all that comes with October I've been behind on everything. Combine that with the fact that I'm also working on a feature length film I'm surprised I'm not dead yet.

That being said, I'm disappointed with my lack of updates...but that is going to change (hopefully). I thought I would make it up to by starting a regular series during the month of October called-

Here's the idea: remember all those "great" horror games we got for the Nintendo? Stuff like Castlevania, Monster Party, Zombie Ate My Neighbors, and Splatterhouse brought the red groovy into the safety of our homes and let us bash our ways through all manner of zombies or monster. It was a grand time to be young and unsupervised.

As time went on they began to extended the scope from original creations to games based off film franchises. Some were successful (Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th) while others were...well...(Jaws, Ghostbusters) less well received. The thing is, there were not as many as you would think for the period of time that saw the release of some of the greatest horror films made. 

So we have mocked up versions of games we would of liked to have seen made for the Nintendo Entertainment System based off beloved  horror films or just had a general creepiness to them. Some would be good, some would be bad, but all would be ;culturally significant.

Let's get started with what I feel was the biggest miss for the game market.


NAME: The Monster Squad


Monster Squad for NES, you could have been amazing. I mean, the idea IS amazing. You choose between four playable characters: Sean (with stake and Van Helsing diary), Patrick (with dynamite and skateboard), Rudy (with combat bow and revolver), and Fat Kid/Horace (with shotgun and garlic pizza). 

The objective of the game is to collect all the pieces of the amulet before Dracula can while also saving townspeople from monsters. If I recall examples include saving Eugene from the Gillman and Phoebe from Dracula. 

There were also cool game features like finding Scraps, Phoebe's stuffed dog, that would call the Frankenstein monster to defeat any enemies or reviving your health bar by picking up Twinkies. 

With all this in the game why did I mentioned that things COULD of been amazing? In explaining where things went wrong we have to discuss the involvement of a eternal thorn in the side of all classic gamers:

Rainbow of Death
 LJN is notorious for creating a majority of the movie based games that appeared on the Nintendo system. They're also notorious for causing more kids to smash their TVs in a frustrated rage then any other company. It became so bad that simply seeing that rainbow caused ones palms to become sweaty and facial ticks to occur. 

Under LJN Monster Squad featured maddening control issues, excessive button mashing, and complicated missions like biking all over the town in order to find material to make silver bullets (why couldn't you just make it in shop class?). And then the diary puzzles. So many damn diary puzzles, and in German. It seems like you spend half the freakin' game visiting scary German guy just to translate them all. 

Another really annoying thing was that, much like in the TMNT game, when you died as a player you would lose that character. That's all fine and dandy but certain bosses needed to be defeated by certain characters of the Monster Squad. How the hell am I suppose to kill the Gillman now without Horace's shotgun?

I'm not even going to get into how pointless the Power Glove was in helping you play the game (although I did find it made pulling off the finishing "kick in the nards" move while fighting the Wolfman a lot easier). 

So the game gets a 'A' for theme and idea but a 'C-" for all the stupid bike riding and diary translating (also, no save points. Come on, that's what a clubhouse is suppose to be for).

So in the the end the game receives a grade of
Play it for the nostalgia but beware the repetitiveness and the difficult missions. If it becomes too much just give up and become firemen. 

Stay Scared,

 See that cool Creature from the Black Lagoon card next to the Monster Squad game? 
It's from a trading card series by Impel that was released during the big Universal Monster push that came around 1991.

Trust me, this logo was on everything.

These cards were apparently given in place of candy for Halloween. I personally never recall getting cards instead of candy but I can see someone, probably a heath nut, giving these out over fun size Snickers.
They're pretty amazing...but are they better than candy? Hard to say. 

Shawn over at 'Branded in the 80s' featured these cards while also sharing a great story from his Halloween past. 'Branded in the 80s' is one of the blogs that inspired me to start 'Culturally Significant!' so click the banner below and give it a look. Tell'em Strange sent ya.

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