Crikey! Time is whizzing by! At this rate it'll be Christmas next Tuesday...at least that's what it feels like! Never mind though, as I still seem to be on track with actually getting through this list! Although I've probably just gone and jinxed myself now, and the world will end tomorrow or it'll be eaten by space zebras or something, just to be annoying! Oh well, better get a move on and read this just in case...
19 - Monster Max (Gameboy) :
Poor Max, the monster guitarist, was getting ready to rock up a storm when a particularly pesky human invader by the name of Krond took over the planet & banned music! Being more than a little miffed at losing his chance of stardom and faced with never again moshing like a monster of rock should, Max enlists in the Mega Hero Academy! Here he must complete nine levels of training before he's ready to face the evil Krond and save music!
Taking control of Max, you're faced with hundreds of screens filled with platforms and puzzles in an isometric adventure that's probably the best example of the genre ever made! You'll control robots as you try to manoevure platforms with them, use ducks to...well....duck! And bombs, guns, swords and all sorts of other power-ups to solve the sorts of puzzles you'll be expecting if you know your isometric-type adventures!
Programmed by Jon Ritman with graphics by Bernie Drummond, these guys took everything they learned from previous hits Batman 3D & Head Over Heels, and created a real monster-sized game! 600 locations made it twice as big as Head Over Heels, and the level design is superb meaning you'll never really blame the game for any mistakes! If you fail at a puzzle, you'll curse yourself for making a mistake and jump straight back to trying to conquer it again.
As you'd expect from a title with a rock-star monster, the game also features a great soundtrack by David Wise with lots of great toe-tapping tunes! Nice little extra touches, like Max rocking out when you leave him idling, make for a charming & fun game that should be more famous and popular than it actually is..
As Jon Ritman says on his own site..
"Max got the best reviews I’ve ever seen but Titus seemed very slow in getting it on the shelves – I have to question the reasoning behind getting 98% in January’s reviews and selling it the following December. As a result the sales were fairly poor for a Game Boy product. Such is life."
This means it can be hard to find a copy for sale, but if you can find a copy grab it quick as you can with your monster mitts before those pesky humans invade and try to ban it or something....
18 - The Mummy (GBA) :
Based on the animated series (trailer below), which itself was based on the The Mummy Returns, this game was a pleasant surprise! Usually when you get games based on animated shows these days, they reek of quick cash-in and have very little in the way of gameplay or indeed, fun!
But here, we're given control of all three members of the O'Connells as they scramble to collect the pages of the mystical Book Of The Dead that evil Imhotep is trying to get his manky mummified hands on! And the levels they traverse are a grand set of puzzle-filled mazes.. full of traps & treasures!
Each of the three family members has unique abilities to help in the quest to recover page pieces. You flick between them using the right shoulder button when you need someone to do something specific. Rick is the muscle, so he pulls levers, rolls rocks and has the strongest punches! This also means he's the slowest of the trio though. Evy is a bit more athletic and somersaults over traps, lobs sticks at unreachable levers and enemies and is a bit faster but not as strong.
She is however an expert in hieroglyphics, so you'll be using her to read any inscribed pillars you find! Alex, their son, is in possession of the manacle which allows him access to the treasure chests & specific locks. He's the fastest, but also the weakest of the family, so he can find four different magic spells to fire at the nasties instead of trying to beat them up!
The enemies themselves are what you'd expect to find in ancient tombs! Scorpions, ancient zombie guards, ghosts...you know, the usual! A little red circle appears when you approach an enemy, and this means that you've automatically locked on to that baddie. Beating them up grants you combos, and the longer you can keep the hits going you'll be awarded with extra coins or health.
Once you get cornered it can be quite tricky too, so don't expect to be playing a game just for the kiddies! Of course, you can choose just to obliterate them with some magic or one of Rick's souped up punches rather than waste time on combos, which is quicker but produces less items!
Music & sound effects are suitably Egyptian, and as you can see from the screenshots the graphics are pretty groovy too with some nice lighting effects when magic stuff is happening! All in all it's presented pretty well, and does a great job with the licence! I'm only a tiny bit of the way into the game, but so far it's been loads of fun exploring the tombs and using the family's different abilities. So yeah, pick it up if you can find it.....or you could always get your Mummy to get it for you!
17 - Under The Skin (PS2) :
When a child turns 3 years old on Planet Mischief, they must travel to another planet and hone their skills in the art of mischief making. If successful in inducing mass panic on that planet, they will be awarded with praise and be ready for their lives as adults. However, the star of this game, Cosmi, will have his work cut out as he is being sent to Earth...a planet that no other alien has ever managed to conquer! If he manages to make mischief here, he'll become a hero!
On his way to Earth however, Cosmi crashes into a TV station satellite, and ditches his craft near Coco Town! Thankfully, Earth's Mischief Master, Master Itazura, finds him before the earthlings and whisks him off to the Dojo to train for survival...
After learning a few of the tricks of the game in the Dojo tutorial, you're unleashed upon Coco Town as Cosmi, where you'll be competing with another alien to collect the most coins. Or sometimes you'll work together to collect as much money as possible! All this is done by playing pranks on the inhabitants of whatever level you happen to be on. First however, you'll need to use your hoover gun to capture a human that you can disguise yourself as!
After nabbing your human, head to one of the flying saucers dotted around the level, and you'll be able to disguise yourself as that person. Once disguised, you can use that humans items to prank your victims. There's loads of items to use, such as bowling balls to knock people over, microphones that you'll use to sing Karaoke and assault peoples eardrums and cannons to fire yourself from and splat people with!
Be careful though as one hit from an enemy will see you running about in your undies and arousing suspicion from the townsfolk, and another will make you lose the disguise and a load of coins and have you rushing back to the nearest UFO! Just remember to have sucked up another human too, or you won't be able to change into someone else!
Whoever has the most coins at the end of the timed level wins, and progresses to the next area. There are 8 areas in total, and each has a different theme. Frontiersville is a wild-west themed town for instance, whereas High Stakes Hills has a Casino theme. As a nice surprise there's also a level based around Raccoon City from Resident Evil, where you have to steal coins from RE3's Nemesis and you can disguise yourself as Jill Valentine!
At a certain point in the levels, Panic Time happens, where things get even more crazy for a while...like rush hour in Coco Town or Death being unleashed to claim souls in Pranksylvania! You'll need to work extra hard during these periods to hang on to your coins, as the panic is hard to avoid!
There's a versus mode so that you can compete split-screen with a friend and a co-op mode that can be unlocked so you can both attack a level together, so it's worth finding someone to play along with! Some of the levels can be a bit tricky, and the camera is one of the games biggest flaws, as often your view will get totally obscured by the masses of people you've just pissed off by flattening them with a giant cheeseburger....
But these are minor niggles and it's all massive fun, and has that insane feel that only the Japanese developers can seem to get right! It's more or less exactly ten years old now, released in October 2004, and it's a shame that it's never quite had the following it deserves....so it's the perfect time to seek it out and give it some love!
16 - Beetlejuice In ~ Skeletons In The Closet (PC):
Another game based on a cartoon version of a movie next, as we get to grips with old Beetle-bonce himself in this odd, old Hi-Tech DOS game from 1990. It's a fairly simple little game. You play as Beetlejuice and walk him round the screen shooting loogies at skeletons, which crumple to the ground for Lydia to hoover up the bones!
Sandworms stick their heads up every now and again to try and eat you, so you have to avoid those, and sometimes Lydia gets trapped by the skeletons and put in a cage, so you'll have to rush up and free her from that predicament by collecting a lightning pick-up from a dead (re-dead?) skeleton. The skeletons drop a few other pick-ups too, like one that gives you the ability to fire your head at them instead of spit or multi-spit shots, etc.
Beetles crawl around that you can pick up to spell the word "TRUTH", and that acts as a smart bomb that kills all the enemies on screen at once. Once you complete a screen you move on to the next...and...uhm...well, that's it! I told you it was fairly simple! It does seem to get a bit trickier the further you progress, but there's nothing else to the game really!
Which is fair enough! It still manages to be quite addictive despite not having much to it and would actually be a great game for kids to play after watching an episode or two of the cartoon! It won't have you playing for hours upon hours though...