Juvenile in its content, cartoonish in its artwork, this charming title
has nothing horrifically monstrous. It's a simple title that emulates
the Gauntlet canons established by Midway. There are many monsters.
There is only one protagonist. Between the monsters and the
protagonists are various mazes, separated by key-locked gates that must
be opened to proceed. By now, we're fully aware of what to expect in
such a title. Monster Force's thirty-five levels don't throw any
surprises. But it does surprise us that the end result is a title that
one could easily make a pass on.
One of the principle reasons behind the last disapproving statement is
in the execution basic Gauntlet mechanics. This title is seen from a
birds-eye view. However, in such a title, with such a premise, there is
a delicate balance between how big the persona should be and how much
terrain that persona can see. As it stands now, Monster Force's camera
is too close and fixated to the protagonist, putting the player at an
unnecessary disadvantage; poor vantage point for exploration and an easy
Achilles heel for swarms of monsters to exploit. If the persona, which
is well-animated, were to be shrunk, it would allow for greater real
estate. On a handheld screen, a small fractional change could make all
Then there is the multiplayer option. What comes to mind in a
multiplayer title that is based on the mechanics of Gauntlet? With two
players only, my best guess was for a co-operative mode where players
could slog through the single player levels together like in similar
coin-op arcades but for some inexplicable reason, the multiplayer action
is purely of a deathmatch nature. More to the point, it's deathmatch
between only two players, which makes you question the developer's
sincerity of commitment to the Game Boy Advance platform. Certainly, no
one will be buying this game for its multiplayer options.
I stress this feature so much because it could easily turn a mediocre
title into a fun one. Reviewers often get first wind, either through
peers, a first look preview, rumors or otherwise of what they can expect
from an impending release. To paraphrase the film industry, there is a
sadistic pleasure involved when you expect some piece of work to be bad
and it turns out to be absolutely dreadful. Those sadists then jump
gleefully with joy as they proceed to lambaste and ridicule it in their
But that is not so with Monster Force. It is a horror title that
possesses a certain amount of charm. It's not horrific in any sense,
which seems to suggest it is aimed at the children's crowd. Indeed, the
Dracula, Werewolf and Frankenstein characters look like they were pulled
from nouveau cartoon remakes like Young Dracula, Frankenstein the Next
Generation, etc. You can almost imagine that in your mind running on the Cartoon Network.
There's something attractive about the Gauntlet motif in spite of its
obvious monotony. We're drawn to it. Something about the mindless
killing, key hunting and maze walking attracts us even to this day.
There may only be a few animations for the special abilities, powerups
and weapons you acquire, but it's a brief respite from the overwhelmingly
detailed thinking games that each and every publisher hopes we devote
our free time to day in and day out. Monster Force somewhat emerges as
the antithesis of that.
Furthermore, the title is augmented with an excellent soundtrack. It's
quick-paced and keeps the action moving, even if the on-screen action
isn't moving along at the same pace. The visuals, while not stellar,
are at least able to keep up. However, no amount of technical
excellence could keep the anemic mechanics at bay and in the final
analysis, Monster Force is still a clone of Midway's Gauntlet. A tired
feeling then creeps in, thereafter leaving a dry derivative aftertaste.