So, it’s the 80’s, and you envied all those console owners with their fancy smooth scrolling platformers. Well then, Carmack has got you covered. Commander Keen arrived and showed the world that you could do smooth scrolling on PC as well, becoming an instant sensation! Of course Apogee, the publisher of id Software’s platformer, wasn’t going to let any chance slip by, and so released other games using the Keen engine.
Monster Bash is one such game. A platformer (what else?) starring Johnny Dash, a kid who eerily reminds me of Chuckie the evil doll, on a quest to save doggies and kitties from an evil vampire, or something like that. At this point I could probably quote Carmack about games and plot, and it would totally fit. Anyway, the game is more actionized than Commander Keen, especially because you get infinite ammo this time. But I would say it’s also a lot harder. The platforming is way less forgiving, enemies are everywhere and you need to watch out for literally everything. Perhaps that’s an effect of giving you 6 energy bars instead of dying in one hit, but the result is that you’ll die often. Very often.
Graphics aside, the sound feels ancient as well. It supports Adlib for music and Soundblaster for sound effects, but it seems unable to play back more than one sound effect at a time. I was expecting better from a 1993 game. I can’t really remember if Commander Keen had the same problem, but if it did, it masked it well. Monster Bash constantly features thunders crashing in the background, which makes it a lot more glaring when your shots keep on not making any sound.
I didn’t like it much at first, but now it’s growing on me. The game gives you specific hints for each level, and it looks like there’s going to be a lot of variety.
On a side note, the smooth scrolling is not that smooth for me. It’s a problem in Commander Keen as well. Apparently it’s due to an issue with newer VGA cards, but even the Matrox Mystique doesn’t fix it, so I guess I’ll need an ISA card… if I can find a cheap one. Time to look around. Trident, Cirrus, Ati… there are so many possibilities.