Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Are you ready for a blast from the past? When games were tough and the only instructions were on the back of the box? Well, you’ll be happy to know that Monster Bash HD is now available in a newer format!
Originally released in 1993 for DOS, Monster Bash tells the tale of a young boy, Johnny Dash, who aims to rescue hundreds of pets kidnapped by Count Chuck from the underworld. Johnny will have to jump, crawl, climb, and use his trusty slingshot to rescue all the pets and stop Count Chuck’s evil schemes!
So let me just start out here by saying that this game originally came out the year after I was born, so yes, it’s old. (Editor’s Note (PY): That statement hurts as I used to play this all the time off a 3.5″ floppy disk) As a 2D side-scrolling action platformer style deal, you as Johnny dash will need to shoot the locks of cages to release pets using your slingshot. Once all the pets are released, you can make your way to the exit of the level. Along the way there are enemies you can kill, such as zombies and skeletons, candy to collect, which gives you points, as well as health to collect and treasure chests to break. There are four difficulties to choose from: easy, normal, hard, and nightmare, as well as a level editor so you can design your own stages.
Gameplay is interesting as it has that old feeling of clunkiness, but is presented in a way that doesn’t make it feel overly frustrating. You can shoot the slingshot left or right, as well as diagonally upwards in either direction, and the stones you shoot will fall after some time, making it easier to hit enemies on the ground, as you tend to shoot over them if you are standing too close. The stones will also rebound off walls, showing an interesting complexity to possible shots you can make. Jumping is a little finicky as well, since you need a little bit of space to “get up to speed” otherwise you get a shorter distance jump instead.
Monster Bash can be tough, especially if you aren’t certain whether an object in the stage will hurt you or not. Thankfully, there are TONS of checkpoints, and you save level progress when returning to a checkpoint, provided you haven’t run out of lives. That being said, the game tends to be extremely resistant to helping you outright, as there are no tutorials when you start, and sometimes you can be very confused about what to do if the stage you’re playing has a gimmick. The default control scheme also feels really weird, using Ctrl and Alt as your action buttons, although you can rebind those. Thankfully there is also a hint menu you can bring up, which will give you some tips about the stage you’re in, which I’ll admit I had to use once or twice, especially when the stage exit wasn’t a normal door.
Monster Bash does provide some re-playability as well, as there are a number of challenges in each stage, including meeting a par time for the stage or collecting all the candy. These can be very difficult to meet the first time through, but become easier on subsequent goes at it. With four difficulties as well, there is an extra challenge for you there. Good news for all of you who played the original, while the game initially came in three parts, you now get all three parts as one, so no rooting around for Floppy 2 of 3. (Editor’s note (PY): Maybe I’ll finally get to play disks 2 and 3!! We couldn’t find them anywhere back in the day…)
While the title has received a graphical upgrade, it isn’t like it’s an amazing upgrade. Yeah, it looks a lot better, but it still feels pretty old, not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. Monster Bash is an amazing nostalgia kick, and it’s definitely a retro title that has proven its worth, even many years later.
Overall, I have to say I had a lot of fun with Monster Bash. You’ve got the right amount of retro nostalgia without the awkward gameplay that normally goes along with titles trying to emulate the retro style. Monster Bash is the kind of old-school game I think back on fondly, and it’s games like Monster Bash that are the reason I still break out my older games from time to time. Yeah, they may not be perfect, heck, sometimes they’re downright frustrating, but you know what? They were fun.Score: 8 / 10