Belom bashing bonanza

Grand Monster Slam logo

OOER! Must be good! If it's got the word grand in the title. Sounds jolly impressive. And then there's the slam bit, very violent and exciting. Not forgetting the monster element. Oh yes, this does sound interesting, grand, slam and cosmopolitan.

Well it isn't. After Denaris, who would have thought that Rainbow Arts could have fallen so low. Let me explain.
Grand Monster Slam is a game about a medieval tournament for trolls, orcs, goblins, minotaurs and sundry other creatures. According to the impressively badly translated manual - Rainbow Arts being West German of course - you play a dwarf with a mission, a mission to win the tournament or be labeled as the king's fool for a year.

After sitting through an impressive loading screen, which promises things the program doesn't deliver, and an equally impressive piece of music, the options menu arrives, complete with quivering beloms. What's a belom, I hear you cry. I'm psychic you see.

A belom is something small and furry, roughly the shape and size of a football and somewhat reminiscent of the Tribbles in Star Trek. Yes, you kick the hell out of them.

At the menu, then, you can either check out the high score table, practice belom punting, practice kicking beloms into faulton's mouths - faulton's are things on sticks that you kick beloms into - or play in the tournament.

Practice a bit first, because no matter what the briefing says, when you start the tournament and get drawn against your first round opponent, it isn't easy.

The first section is the main game and consists of you standing, facing your foe, on a line, kicking beloms over to the other side. The first to kick his beloms over to the other side - plus any that have been kicked by the opponents to their side - and runs across the pitch, is the winner.

Knocking your foes over by kicking beloms at them is entirely legal and rather necessary. Should a belom be lofted into the audience a foul is given and a penalty of up to three beloms may be incurred. I won't bore you with the details of this because it's just too tedious. Suffice to say it involves your right foot and a duck's backside.

If you survive the first round you switch to an overhead view and have to fend off eight attacking beloms with a pole. Otherwise they trample you. This section only nets or loses you points. It doesn't hinder your progress in the game.

Should you manage to beat all the opponents in the first part of the game, you can go on to kick a belom into a faulton's mouth stage. Hold the fire button down to gauge the strength of the shot and the chip the ball. Belom, I mean.
Ahh, the thrill of it all.

The writers of the game and manual claim that the entire concept was developed from a fantasy roleplaying scenario. Role playing? Forget it, there isn't any.
Yes, the music is nice, the graphics are reasonable and the animation and elements of humour are good, but where's the game? Can you imagine a sp[orts game with only three events? Yawn City folks.

Grand Monster Slam isn't a particularly bad game, it's just that there is nowhere near enough of it. It isn't coherent enough and doesn't have the surface gloss to cover over its shortcomings.


Grand Monster Slam logo

Getting your head kicked in takes on a whole new meaning if you happen to be a Belom, because all you are is a furry head. You do not get your head kicked in, however, you do the kicking instead. The action takes place on a grassy pitch with you and your opponent standing at the opposite ends of the playing field. In front of each of you is a row of quivering Beloms waiting to be kicked.`

The idea of the game is simple, kick those Beloms to the other end of the patch and then sprint to the opposing line. Reach the line and you go onto the next round of the game and if you are good enough you will eventually reach the final> your opponent of course has other plans because no one likes losing, not even a stupid ogre, and he kicks the Beloms back. You represent the stumpy people (dwarves) and must kick your way to victory.

In the first round of the context, you play though against seven other opponents in a knock out context, the winner of each match goes onto the next stage until you reach the round one final. After each match, the Beloms can get their own back in a bonus round. Here you just fend off the beloms for as long as possible. Win the final and you get to feed the Faultons.

Faulton feeding involves kicking Beloms into the waiting mouths of the Faulton who sit atop pedestals. If you get enough hits you go onto the next stage where you must defeat increasingly skilled opponents. The last thing you do to become GMS champion is beat the winners of three previous GMS Tournaments.

Graphics in GMS are cute and humorous with plenty of detailed opponents. The little Beloms in particular look good, shivering in anticipation of being kicked in the face.

Sound effects during the game consist entirely of kicks and thuds and cheers from the crowd. There are some very good tunes on the selection screens but nothing appears during the game itself.

CONCLUSION

Grand Monster Slam suffers in one important area: lasting interest. Game play is very repetitive, just kicking heads and playing one of the two intermediate stages. If there had been just a bit more thought put into gameplay, then this would have been an excellent game, but lack of variation just leaves you bored after a few games. In fact you will get more long term satisfaction from painting the free goblin, supplied with the game.


Grand Monster Slam logo

Rainbow Arts
Amiga

This is a fine game of a particularly ludicrous conception. The Grand Monster Slam is a game like no other. You have a number of small, furry round tribble-like creatures and the idea is to kick them down to the other end of the pitch, where your opponent stands. He, or she, of course is trying to do the same thing, whilst also indulging in a spot of bodyline by kicking them at you to knock you over. This slows you down.

It might look simple, but it is not easy. As soon as you have knocked a couple down, your opponent is punting them back. If you are hapless enough to land a ball or two in the crowd, a penalty is awarded against you. The penalty feature is what saves the game from being the most basic and repetitive of outings. A duck appears from a suspended rope and confers with you (if the penalty is in your favour) as to which direction the shot should go. You then pick the bird up and loft him to the other end of the ground by putting a boot up his DA, where if he is successful, he does a little dance.

Little touches like this save Monster Slam from the banal. A fun game, with fine music and graphics, but not one whose appeal you should expect to last.


Grand Monster Slam logo

Rainbow Arts, C64 £9.99 cassette, £12.99 disk; Amiga £19.99

Beloms aren't exactly vicious creatures. These small furry balls are either masochistic or stupid - they let everyone else kick them around, literally. The beloms are used in the weird sport of Grand Monster Slam where two competitors stand at either end of a pitch, trying to kick all twelve beloms over the other side, the main tactic being to knock your opponent over.

The height of kicks is determined by how long the fire-button is pressed, while they can also be aimed left/right. If a player kicks a belom into the crowd, a penalty (taken by kicking a duck!) is awarded to his opponent. If the penalty is successful, three of the taker's beloms are sent over to the other side.

Playing against various computer opponents, you must win three matches to advance to the next of three leagues. Between matches, a 'Revenge Of The Beloms' sub-game is played. The overhead view shows the player surrounded by nine angry beloms. They attack one at a time, and a given number must be knocked away with a staff to retain the score from the previous match.

If three matches are won, the player proceeds to another sub game, Faulton Feeding. Six reptilian faultons sit on progressively higher poles, waiting, in turn, to be fed. The player has a single attempt for each one, kicking a belom into its open mouth. A certain number of faultons (2 on the first level, 4 on the second) must be fed to qualify for the next league.


Phil King The sick humour featured in Grand Monster Slam makes it initially very appealing! But those poor beloms have a hard time of it - I wonder if the RSPCA know about this sport. Presentation throughout the game is very good - the weird computer opponents are especially well animated with some humorous touches. The concept of two competitors, kicking things at each other is reminiscent of the old 'Crossfire' board game, but with the added attraction of being able to knock your opponent over. This simple idea makes the game instantly playable and surprisingly addictive, but the lack of a two player mode lessens the long-term appeal. And with just the two simple sub-games, there's a general lack of variety in gameplay.
Paul Rand Kicking furry things at each other seems a weird thing to do, but it's great fun for a while at least. All the opponents have different abilities, so you need to change your tactics slightly for each one. Having said that, once a basic strategy is mastered it's too easy to progress through the leagues, The main obstacles being the tricky sub-games. To get to final league, four of the six faultons must be fed, and if you fail you must play in the second league again - especially irritating for C64 tape users, as each opponent must be multiloaded in. Still, if you fancy a lighthearted 'sports' game, this is the funniest one yet.