A couple of weeks ago, I posted my review of Alien Breed 3D. If you heard the latest episode of the Play On! Podcast, then you heard me talk about how that was the hardest review I’ve ever written. I had to write that review from the perspective of a person that’s never played video games before, not an easy task. So this week, I wanted to take it easy, readjust, get back in my comfort zone. What better way to do that than by reviewing a Neo Geo classic, King of the Monsters…for the Sega Genesis, goddammit.
King of the Monsters – Neo Geo AES, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Super Nintendo
King of the Monsters was originally released for the Neo Geo AES back in July of 1991. However, a development studio named “Takara”, was responsible for bringing it to the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo shortly after it’s release. Actually, Takara pretty much focused on porting classic Neo Geo games to weaker and more mainstream home consoles. They helped games like Fatal Fury and Samurai Showdown find a home on Sega and Nintendo consoles.
The original Neo Geo cover for King of the Monsters
Now, in addition to Takara’s involvement in video game development, they also produced kids toys. In fact, children of the 80’s owe Takara a great deal of thanks since they were the ones that created the Japanese Diaclone and Microman robot toys. Oh, you don’t remember those? You probably know them better by their American name, The Transformers.
It’s like it’s Optimus but it’s not if you know what I mean.
King of the Monsters is a 2-D brawler. Basically, it’s Rampage mixed with Street Fighter and WWF wrestling. Various monsters wrestle it out in various locales around Japan destroying everything around them until one pins the other. The original Neo Geo version features 6 playable monsters while the Genesis version only has 4. There’s Geon, a large rip-off of Godzilla, Rocky, a large man made of rocks and boulders, Beetle Mania, a large…beetle, and Astro Guy, a generic super hero type.
Each monster has their own special attacks and moves. Now, I use the terms “special attacks” and “moves” loosely. Each monster only has one special attack and they vary from firing off a single fireball or laser beam to throwing a projectile. The moves only consist of a basic punch and kick and two or three special wrestling moves (i.e. body slam, back breaker, suplex) that can be performed by simply holding down the punch or kick button while you’re close to your opponent.
King of the Monsters Game Play on the Sega Genesis
The extremely limited attacks makes for extremely limited and herky jerky combat during the game. Combat usually consists of each monster trading punches until one falls down. By trading punches I literally mean that you land a punch and then your opponent lands a punch. You go punch for punch like that until one of you falls down. There’s no blocking so the only way to avoid being hit is to just walk away but that only buys you a second or two of rest since the computer opponents in this game are relentless.
Seriously, the game makes it near impossible to perform any attack beyond basic punching or kicking since each monsters special move has to be charged up for almost 5 seconds. That means you have to hold down the “A” and “B” buttons while not moving in order to fully charge an attack and then fire it off. What usually ends up happening is that you stand still while charging up, and then your opponent walks up and throws you. And even if you do end up fully charging your attack, your opponent has to be directly in front of you in order to make contact otherwise it will miss them. That’s right, you can’t aim your special attack, you just have to hope the other guy is standing right in front of you when you fire it off.
Wow, someone found the time to charge up a special attack.
Since your surroundings can be destroyed during a fight, that also means they can be used by or against you. During fights, fighter jets strafe you from the air and boats and tanks take shots at you from the ground. While these attacks can damage you and also prevent you from performing a special attack, you can also grab any one of these objects and throw them at your opponent. Throwing things can make for a nice high powered attack when you simply can’t fire off your special move.
That’s the remains of a passenger jet that Astro Guy grabbed out of the sky and is now about to throw at Geon.
While the Genesis version of this game doesn’t even come close to a true SNK Neo Geo gaming experience, I will give it the ol’ E for effort. The graphics are brighter and more colorful than most other Genesis games and there’s some nice details that can be seen from time to time. However, the overall limited and jerky combat kill any momentum the game picks up from any of it. The game ends up being more fun to look at than actually play.
The wrestling moves look cool but the choppy character animations rob the moves of any power or feeling for the gamer.
Really? Are we gonna do this? I guess it wouldn’t be a thorough review if I didn’t talk about the sound. Well, it’s shit, there you go. It’s a Genesis game so most of us know what to expect in terms of sound from a Genesis game, horrible synthesizer badness. The music is generic sounding and lacks any catchy beats or tunes.
The sound only gets worse with the game sound effects. It’s almost like the developers over at Takara were trying to make the gamers ears bleed with horribly annoying sounds like the high pitched squealing and whining fighter jets make to the completely obnoxious mess of sound Beetle Mania makes when he performs a wrestling move. If you have to play this game, mute it and put on your own music, you won’t miss anything.
Collectibility – Common
This is a game that probably shouldn’t have been ported to the Genesis. Actually, SNK Games in general shouldn’t have been ported to the Genesis. SNK Games are known for their arcade quality graphics and sound and the Genesis is one console that was never good at producing either of those. Even SNK games that were ported to the Genesis by other developers turned out bad. Art of Fighting is also atrocious on the Genesis so Takara isn’t solely to blame. If you’re a die hard, and I mean die hard, SNK fan then feel to pick this up, otherwise, have you played Shaq-Fu yet?
Average Value – $4 Loose, $9 Complete in Box, $19 New in Box as of 2/27/13
Rarity – Common with a 21% rating on RarityGuide.com
Happy Gaming and Happy Collecting!
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