Imagine The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past but with much less charming graphics that didn't age very well, an unimpressive soundtrack, and some painfully slow gameplay and animations. Then, put in a by-the-books character in an unimaginative world fighting some unimaginative enemies.
That's basically Monkey Hero in a nutshell, as boring a Link to the Past clone as you can imagine.
A72: Monkey Hero:
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Take-Two Interactive.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to a simpler 10 point system. Games that get above a 7 I fully recommend, and those that get below that are mostly a waste of time. That leaves the score of 7 to depend on your taste.
"Now I will rule this land and NIGHTMARE will reign supreme! Go forth my minions and conquer!"
The world of Monkey Hero is divided into three realms: DREAMS, The Waking World, and NIGHTMARE. As you might expect from the naming convention, the NIGHTMARE realm denizens invade the Waking World to cause havoc.
Enter the hero of the game, the aptly called Monkey, to save the world. You do that by gathering the eight pages of the STORYBOOK (by now you may have noticed my use of CAPITAL letters, which simply mirrors the game's style of STORYTELLING).
This is done in a typical Zelda style by going from dungeon to dungeon, but the game never has the style, NPCs, or general feeling of adventure to feel remotely exciting. The game lacks charm, and that's most evident in the design of the game's world and characters.
The game lack character in its design
Even if you accept the fact that a top-down 3D world would never look as good as the sprite-based masterpieces of the SNES era, that doesn't excuse the poor art direction in display here. Colors are muddy and the world is very dark. Character designs are boring, with enemies modeled after bargain bin monster designs.
Nothing in the game is creatively imaginative or remotely interesting.
That extends to a musical score that repeats mediocre tune too often. I get the rhythmic and jungle tunes is trying to convey, but I don't think the soundtrack is interesting or fun to listen to at all.
"Only you possess the strength and bravery to gather the scattered pages of the STORYBOOK and restore its MAGIC"
Unfortunately, the lack of fun extends to the general gameplay itself. It's a Link to the Past with slower and more boring gameplay.
True, in principle, this is the same gameplay loop as the famed game. You go from dungeon to dungeon, getting items to unlock the path to the next dungeon. Each dungeon has a bunch of light puzzles and some enemy rooms.
Normally, this should be a derivative game that is fun nonetheless, since its apes a very successful formula. However, the game is just so damn slow and mediocre at everything it apes. Monkey's base attack has a pathetic and unpredictable range. His other items are not better.
For some reason, it lacks lighting as well
Movement wise, the game is not as snappy as other Zelda clones, suffering from a sluggish malaise that permeates through every moment in the game.
Eventually, the general sense of mediocrity makes this a difficult game to enjoy even if it doesn't do much that makes you actively hate it.
Usually, being a Zelda-clone is used as a pejorative for games that are perfectly good. Excellent Action RPGs like Soul Blazer and Terranigma were described as such, but both were great games.
I don't think it's negative to be inspired by such an iconic game as A Link to the Past.
However, in the case of Monkey Hero, it copies the basic formula of the game while downgrading every part of it. The end product is the skeleton of a good game with the flesh of a bad one, and once the flesh rots away, the bones crumble without the necessary support.
1-When you hear a chime (usually after you clear a room from enemies) it means that a chest appeared.
2-Talk to NPCs to get hints about the best area to visit next.
Honestly, I had some hopes for the game at first
For those reading one of my PS1 review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
I already reviewed both major Generation 4 consoles, and am now to review Generation 5 consoles. I already finished reviewing the Sega Saturn, so I am now reviewing the PS1. In these reviews, I take a top 100 games list and review the games that interest me in that list.
This time, my review series is based on this list from Retro Sanctuary along with other sources, since the PS1 can handle a list bigger than a top 100.
Also, note the following:
-If you have any suggestions for a game that is not in the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.
I guess the opening cinematics should have clued me in better
So far, I didn't have the best of luck in this additional list. I hoped that a Zelda clone would at least be half-enjoyable, but Monkey Here was just so damn boring.
I don't actually expect much from the next game at #A71. Blaster Master: Blasting Again is not widely considered a good game, but it may be an interesting twist to the famous series.
For Previous PS1 Game Reviews: