Platform: Gameboy Advance

Genre: Puzzle/Platformer

Publisher: Titus Software

Developer: Planet

ESRB: E (Everyone)

Released: Q4 2001

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Planet Monsters

Score: 8.1/10

 

Pros

- Colorful graphics

- Addictive gameplay

- Great boss battles

 

 

Cons:

- Some cheesy deaths

- On-screen map is poorly implemented

- Multi-player mode requires multiple cartridges

- No battery save (passwords are used)

 

 

Related Links:

Review: Bomberman Max 2: Red Advance (Gameboy Advance)

 

"Planet Monsters should provide GBA owners with plenty of enjoyment for their monetary investment."

 

Titus Software’s Planet Monsters is a throwback game of the highest order. Fans of old-school arcade action might think “Pengo” when they first put Planet Monsters into their Gameboy Advance, and they would not be far off. Planet Monsters plays like an expanded, perfected version of that Sega classic with the penguin protagonist. Other players might be reminded more of Bomberman, considering the goal of Planet Monsters is to kill opponents who share the map with you using a variety of means (including bombs). Still, Planet Monsters is its own game and, in the end, is just as satisfying as its spiritual predecessors, if not more so.

 

planet-monsters-1.jpg (8442 bytes)          planet-monsters-2.jpg (6964 bytes)

Gameplay in Planet Monsters consists of moving a monster around a maze-like board made up of small blocks. The monster can push these small blocks and cause them to go sliding until they smash into another block and stop or slide right off the board’s edge. The player can also smash blocks which rest up against one another, giving the player the ability to reform each maze to their liking. Three other creatures, controlled by the computer, are also moving around the board. The player’s goal is to use the sliding blocks or weapon power-ups to defeat the other three monsters within a time limit. The concept is very simple and very arcade-like, but, most importantly, also very fun and addictive.

The game takes place in eight universes, each with five levels. Each universe features a different set of monsters that attempt to kill you while you are hunting down the three competitors that you must defeat to finish each level. Strangely, though the computer-controlled creatures occasionally kill each other, they pass through the monsters on each level unharmed. This gives them a serious advantage which can become annoying on the higher difficulty levels, though it is hardly a problem on the default (easy) setting or on “normal”. Another issue that might give some players pause is the limited amount of the board that the player can see at any given time. Some of the levels are so large that the viewable area around the player’s monster can be as little as 10 percent of the entire level. Superimposed at the bottom of the screen is a small radar that provides the player with the position of the other creatures relative to his or her own, but a map would have been far more useful.

That problem aside, the standout gameplay element is certainly the boss battles. Bosses here fill most of the screen and exhibit movement patterns and weaknesses that are reminiscent of classic platformers like the Megaman and Mario games. The bosses are so much fun to compete against that they feel like a reward for fighting through the levels. The only boss that is particularly cheesy and annoying is World Four’s boss (Brasil the Chameleon). He fades in and out of existence and can often fade in right on top of the player’s creature. Sometimes it is possible to move out of the way when the boss is fading in but, at other times, the creature will die the second the boss begins to appear (seemingly due to a slight problem with collision detection). That is only a minor gripe though. If the player keeps his or her creature moving, these pop-in deaths only happen rarely.

The graphics are above-average for a GBA game. Titus seems to have a real handle on programming for Nintendo’s hand-held beast. The game even seems to be playable in less than stellar lighting-an improvement on all but a few GBA games. I’m sure the color palette has something to do with this. Planet Monsters is one of the most vibrantly colored games on the GBA. The animation of the characters and weapons is also top-notch. Graphically, there is nothing to complain about here.

And, really, there is little to complain about at all as far as Planet Monsters is concerned. Sure, it’s not a brainy game by any means. This is simple, arcade action unspoiled by any complicated puzzles or difficult navigation. With forty levels and eight giant bosses (along with a multi-player mode that allows up to four players to link up and compete on any of the game’s levels or in a tournament), Planet Monsters should provide GBA owners with plenty of enjoyment for their monetary investment.

- Tolen Dante

 

(January 22, 2002)

 

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