Pump the monsters

Monster Business logo

ECLIPSE * £25.99 * 1 meg * Joystick

What with the recession, rising interest rates and the price of a pint edging ever nearer to two quid, the building trade has enough problems on its plate without those presented by new German company Eclipse in this game.
Mr Bob is having problems with his construction sites - problems that make it almost impossible for his guys to do any work.

It all started when some forest creatures, known as Mad Meanies, discovered they had a fetish for that bit of flesh that hangs out of the back of every construction worker's aging Levis. They started by gazing from afar but they soon became more and more bold.

Then they realised that they actually had a bigger fetish for the building tools of the guys with the bum cleavage. So at night they crept on to the sites and stole every tool they could carry.

This is where Mr Bob's problem lies - his workmen have no tools. You take control of one Beastie Buster known as Leroy, the best guy for the job by all accounts. But then that is probably more to do with him being the only guy for the job rather than any particular aptitude for his profession. He is employed to guard each building site at night and destroy any of the Mad Meanies he may come across on his travels.

He chooses a rather unusual method to do this - he fills them with compressed helium and watches them float up into the sky. If he gets really clever he can push them off the screen, removing any other Meanies they may hit during their brief flight to oblivion.

When the meanies are inflated they drop all the tools that they have stolen. Leroy can collect these for a bonus when he returns them to Mr Bob, after he has finished each site.

The levels are played against the clock, with you losing a life if all the Meanies are not inflated when the sands of time run dry. If you feel that this may be an impossible task then the game can be played by two in a joint effort to reduce considerably the atmosphere's helium supply.

This platform-based game features nearly 50 levels of Meanie bashing but it is not enough to stop you thinking that this game would probably have been more suited to the ZX Spectrum some six or seven years ago. Even then the playability is just not there. What starts off as vaguely diverting soon gets repetitive.

I was expecting something far better from a company run by a programmer who had close involvement with the project. Must try harder.

Monster Business logo

Marc Rosocha haben wir Hämmer wie "Chambers of Shaolin" oder "Wings of Death" zu verdanken - jetzt hat Thalions früherer Starprogrammierer sein eigenes Softwarehaus aufgemacht: Eclipse. Das Erstlingswerk ist ein stark platformhältiges Geschicklichkeitsgame, und zwar gleich ein richtig gutes!

Was haben spleenige Affen, mutierte Vogel und spükkende Monster gemeinsam? Ganz einfach, sie türnen alle auf den Baugerusten von Mr. Bob herum!

Der Unternehmer ist derhalb schon ganz verzweifelt und bittet in seiner Not den Superhelden Leroy um Hilfe. Leroy weißt zwar, daß jede Berührung mit den Viechern tödlich ist, aber wozu ist er ein Superheld?

Anfangs gestaltet sich die Monsterjagd recht einfach, aber später umfassen die Baustellen dann mehrere Screens, und die Gegner flitzen immer flinker über die Platformen, Leitern, Rutschen und Rampen.

Um die Biester ins Jenseits zu befordern, werden sie zunächst harpuniert, dann drückt man den Feuerknopf mehrmals hintereinander: dadurch werden sie aufgepumpt und entschweben mit geblähten Bauchen Richtung Bildschirm-Himmel!

Besonders nett ist es, einen derart aufgeblasenen Gegner anzurempeln - er fliegt dann seitwarts und erledigt dabei all im Weg stehenden Kollegen.

Unter Zeitdruck Platform Feinde killen und Bonusgegenstände aufsammeln mag zwar nicht sonderlich originell sein, trotzdem überzeugt Monster Business auf der ganzen Linie: Putzig animierte Gegner, flotte Musikstücke, eine präzise Steuerung - was will man mehr? Einen Zwei-Spieler- Simultanmodus vielleicht, denn der fehlt hier leider... (C. Borgmeier)

Monster Business logo

Remember the old days, eh? The guys behind this one sure do...

Hmm. It's Euro-software time again, which - it has to be said - isn't usually a time for celebration in the AMIGA POWER offices. Our continental chums haven't fared too well recently, with manky old guff like Ghost Battle, White Sharks, Metal Masters, Crystals of Arborea and Quadrel all receiving well-deserved critical savagings in previous issues, so when another of those crap floppy-sleeved boxes that foreign software houses seem to love so much plopped through the letterbox, there was a big fight to see which one of us could get to the door first.

Not to review the game you understand, but to get out quickly to keep the urgent dental appointments we'd all suddenly remembered. Rather unsportingly, Gary tripped me up with a promotional baseball bat as we all dashed for the exit, so I was lumped with the job.

The laugh's on everyone else though, because - against all odds - Monster Business is a great little game. If you remember the age-old arcade classic Dig-Dug you'll be well on the way to understanding Monster Busines, because the basic principle is the same.

You roam around a screen full of monsters, attempting to get on their level and pump them full of air, so that they eventually float away, balloon-like, and disappear, (in Dig-Dug you actually blew them up, but let's not quibble about details).

The game also features at least one gameplay element of Toaplan's recent coin-op Snow Bros, in that when the monsters have been fully inflated you can bounce them across the screen, whereupon they'll kill any other enemies they collide with. When you clear all the baddies from a level it's onto the next one (of 45), and that, as they say, is all there is to it.

Technically there's nothing impressive on show here, and while the graphics have lots of character the animation is of the distinctly two-frame variety (see Lupo Alberto a couple of issues ago for a handy comparison of both animation and movement. Musically though, it's a step from the usual continental stuff - professionally done, it has the odd halfway-decent tune to it for once (indeed, if you aurally squint a bit, you can spot a few famous pop classics in there).

The stand-out feature though has to be the gameplay. Simple, comical, fun and addictive, Monster Business plays like all the best arcade games. The cleverly laid-out screens increase in difficulty gradually but perceptibly as the game goes on - you always feel that completing them is within your grasp if you have just one more try - and just when you think things might be starting to get repetitive, the graphic style changes and different aliens with new capabilities appear on the scene.

Although the baddies just wander around aimlessly and don't actually chase you at all, they're deceptively dangerous when you tackle them, and this just makes it all the more galling when they - almost accidentally, it seems - kill you.

You'll quickly grow to hate the cute and gormless creatures of Monster Business, and for me that's always a sign of a good game - it's emotionally involving. I found myself sitting in the office well past going-home time playing this, cursing and shouting at the little beasties on screen, and in no hurry to leave.

There aren't many games which can keep a hard-bitten hack glued to his joystick when he should be relaxing by his own fireside in front of Coronation Street, but this is one of them. It's not for fans of complexity or depth, just for people who remember tat games are supposed to be entertaining.

Monster Business logo

Does anyone remember Billy Connolly's version of the song 'Tell Laura I love Her', in which he describes the mess you get when you stick a straw up a frog's bum and blow hard? Well German' Software house Eclipse have, as it seems to be the central idea behind Monster Business.

Monster Business is set in an imaginary world where the building trade's only worries are strange monsters. To combat these nasties and their tool-stealing ways, site owner, Mr Bob, has hired a gun-toting killer to retrieve his gear and eradicate the monsters.

Leroy is equipped with a hand-held gas gun which he uses to 'inflate' the many meanies to bursting point, at which stage they will drop all the tools they've stolen and float away to oblivion.

Sounds strange? It is! Leroy builds up his score for every monster killed but he must also collect the tools they drop for extra bonuses.

The game is a vertically-scrolling platform adventure which involves Leroy climbing the building's site's scaffolding to combat increasingly fast and difficult opponents. The only way to get between scaffolds is to jump from bar to bar or climb slippery diagonal bars, slide off these, though, and Leroy will be temporarily vulnerable.

Leroy's missions is set against the clock and, as with contact with the monsters, failing to complete his mission quickly results in a rather messy death sequence. To avoid this, though, and destroy the creatures. Leroy must be on the same level and less than half a screen away from them before they can be inflated. If there are other monsters on the same scaffold or the next one up it is also possible to push the inflated Meanie at them to knock them out too, and doing this gives Leroy a bonus score.

Overall Monsters Business is a mildly enjoyable bit of lunacy. There isn't much variety in gameplay, but new monsters and power-up icons do add a few challenges. If you've got some cash to spare and fancy a bit of innocent fun that isn't really too taxing, either mentally or physically, Monster Business could be the one for you, but I can't help thinking that it should be cheaper.