Developer: Human Entertainment
Release Date: June 1989
Your name is Mark, a typical boy returning from baseball practice when you notice a twinkle in the sky. As you gaze at the twinkling star, it slowly takes shape into a gargoyle named Bert who needs your help ridding the monsters from his world. Mark is not sure how to proceed, but Bert assures him that with his baseball bat he will be able to overcome the monsters. Mark agrees to the task, and him and Bert fuse themselves together and travel to Bert’s home, the Dark World. Thus sets the plot for Monster Party.
Although developed in Japan, the game was only released in the United States for the NES in June of 1989. It has been theorized that this is due to the Japanese version being considerably gorier. In 2011 a beta version of Monster Party, also known in Japan as Parody World: Monster Party appeared on Yahoo Japan Auctions and sold for close to $6,000. The winner of the auction shared his findings and it was noticed immediately to be bloodier.
The fanged monster grinning with green ooze dripping from its mouth at the start screen was notably missing, and replaced by only jagged fangs dripping with blood. The jack-o-lantern used as a curser was replaced by a skull. Another immediate difference is the first boss you encounter in Level 1. In the United States version, you face an egg-plant like flower – while in the Japanese beta it appears to be more of a fanged flower singing behind a microphone, giving a nod to Audrey II from the film/play Little Shop of Horrors!
Are the differences between the different versions worth $6,000? That will depend on who you ask, as the Japanese beta of Monster Party is now one of the rarest NES games to exist and to some collectors could be worth even more.
The game features 8 different levels in the Dark World. The most memorable level for me as a child is the first level, where as you are walking along the straight forward path, a seemingly normal world changes in a lightning flash. Smiling trees and blocks are now monstrous disfigured creatures or skulls. Most memorable to me is the dog with a human head that greets you immediately.
Mark handles on the controller rough, but his ability to launch projectiles back at the enemies with his bat make him invaluable and provided a new mechanic unseen in previous games. Furthermore, when Mark finds a magic pill, he is able to transform into Bert who not only can fly, but he can also shoot projectiles that look like green lasers.
To complete each level the player must defeat all the bosses by wandering into every doorway the player comes across. Each doorway will contain either a boss, points for the high score, or nothing. The bosses are range from classic horror monsters, to the bizarre such as fried shrimp and onion rings.
Monster Party is a relatively simple and fun game to play. Its unique controls and combat provided a nice change to run, jump and gun games like Contra and Mega Man. Overall it is highly memorable and holds a special place in my NES library for its unique and quirkiness.