Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

BR50- With A New Hat Perhaps

Man, everybody is getting tentacled or vined this time around. The Sins need to find a less creepy way to pull somebody over. That's going to go wrong one day and Gluttony is going to lose a limb of Anger is going to chuff with a lisp after losing a tongue.
Oh the trials and tribulations of being a hero. There are probably governing bodies that frown upon taking bribes, but you're in a cave away from prying eyes. Everything is totally legal in a deep cave. It's like being far out to sea; it's all good.


Quick Review: Monster Tale- MT is definitely a throwback to simpler (better) times and it does this well. Just like with Shantae, the more games that follow the Monster World style of game design, the happier Pip gets. Heck, I think one of the reasons I was drawn in so quickly was that the game follows one the same basic ideas that Sins does: if you give little kids power, they will turn to the ways of evil. Any game with little kids greatly abusing phenomenal power for selfish reasons is off to a great start. Throw in some fantastic sprite work, cute characters, and great music and you have a winner. There's some Genesis-era stuff here. I love the Tubeworqs theme and I found myself humming a few of the songs on my walk to work, so that's great praise. It's not without flaws though. Some glaring, giant flaws. They managed to botch the game's main gimmick, your monster Chomp. Chomp only gets experience if he attacks enemies or uses items and as he grows, you unlock new forms and abilities for him. But for some reason, he's super slow to attack. You basically have to stand still and wait for him to attack and since his early forms are so weak, it takes five times longer to have him kill something than if you just did it yourself. Items are used to unlock new forms from a branching tree. So you start with form A and form C unlocks when Chomp eats enough cookies, but the cookies only count if you're in form A. If you've unlocked form B and feed him a cookie, you don't get anything for doing so. This means that you constantly have to pause, scroll through the tree until you find the form that can use the item you have to unlock something, change, and then let him take the item if you want to unlock his different abilities. It also requires A LOT of items to unlock the next form so using Chomp requires way too much grinding. Elle, your character, is no slouch when it comes to skills or combat, so Chomp pretty much takes a back seat and can be forgotten for the most part, which is a total shame. You can even accidentally lock yourself out of certain forms thanks to bad design. Each of Chomp's forms can only level up to 30 and once you hit that cap, you can no longer work on unlocking the next form. So if there was one form you liked and used a lot but didn't find enough of the specific items to unlock the next one, you're screwed. And some of the forms aren't easy to unlock. Form X may have three items it likes and you can let him chow down on mass quantities of any of them to unlock Form Y, but then there are randomly other forms where it may have four items it likes but it requires them in specific quantities that aren't shown to the player. You can keep leveling him up on cookies but once the game decides that he's had enough, you're just getting him closer and closer to the level cap without anything to show for it. All in all, even once you have the strongest forms, Chomp is still almost completely useless. I got my favorite one up to 999 in almost all of his stats and he was still slow, weak, and could only heal me a few times before he needed to rest. The level design is also heavily reliant on backtracking. Completely arbitrary backtracking at that. You'll pass a locked red door, beat a boss, pass that door and it's still locked, go to a new area for a cutscene that says all the red doors should be open now that the boss is defeated, and now the door is magically open. Why not just open it once I beat the boss? Having to travel to some random point on the map to be told that doors are open was a waste of everybody's time. The game is chock full of moments like this and they typically require you to go from one side of the world, all the way to the other, then back to where you started, and then all the way to the other side of the world once more to open a door. Shantae abused the heck out of backtracking too, but at least it had warp points. I beat Monster Tale with 100% map completion and all the forms in about 12 hours, but if you were to get rid of the pointless backtracking, the game would be about half that. Then if you were to take out all the grinding for money and Chomp items, it would be beatable in a single sitting. Despite all these annoyances, I still explored the whole map, wailed on enemies to get high combos for cash and prizes, and jumped through all the hoops to unlock all the forms because the game is FUN. As a kid, I sunk months in Wonder Boy in Monster World so spending a whole train ride collecting enough gems to rot Chomp's brain with video games to unlock a new form actually kind of worked for me and I will gladly pick up a sequel if (when?) it gets made as long as they clean up the rough edges.
Sins Committed: Backtracking, Bad design (on raising Chomp), Short
Virtues Acted: Good art, Good characters, Good writing, Good music, Priscilla is totally an evil young Princess Toadstool and that made punching her in the face that much more enjoyable