Written: 12.20.07 Acquired: 2.25.06 Status: Cart only Price: $5
Rampage meets Street Fighter II -- that's what some folks like to call King of the Monsters. And in some small ways, it kind of is. Not the perfect match it could have been, but the arcade, from where I sit, provided plenty of thrills and good ole fashion campy fun. The arcade made the rounds the same year that the SNES did -- 1991. It was only a matter of time before the SNK brawler would come stomping home This shoulda been the Godzilla vs. Megalon US cover!
Is it a faithful translation?
Any extra modes?
But first, let us step into the time machine...
"FIRE 'ER UP, DOC!"
*SOMETIME IN 1991*
There I was, a ripe eight-years-old, at the local Safeway with my brother and dad. It was just another typical Tuesday night in the ole neighborhood. Grocery shopping at 8 PM, trying to convince the old man to buy us those yummy dinosaur fruit snacks, or those teeth-rottingly good WWF ice cream bars, and being ecstatic if Pops caved in to even just one of 'em
We got in line. It was very, very long. My brother and I weren't exactly the most well-behaved kids in the history of kids. We spotted an arcade cab nearby -- where they sell the coal. Dad plopped two quarters in our hands and off we ran, disappearing from that long and boring line like two chalky ghosts in the night
I had never seen such a diverse arcade machine before. Four games to choose from! Of course, we picked Sengoku Densyo. NOT!King of the Monsters all the way. Neither one of us had ever seen the game before. My bro selected Astro Guy, I used Geon, and well... I never looked back
That night I fell in love with KING OF THE MONSTERS
*FLASH FORWARD TO THE TAIL END OF 1991*
I'll never forget December of '91. My parents took my brother and I to our favorite place, Chuck E Cheeses, to celebrate the end of the year. My mom in particular was rather strict and whatnot, so these rare opportunities where she allowed us to binge on our desires were not taken for granted! They ordered two large pizzas and got Kev and me 50 tokens! I knew where I was gonna be for the rest of that night...
An hour-plus and 25 quarters later, I finally beat the first arcade game in my career. I stepped back, drenched in sweat from wrestling with the joypad, and stared back at my mom who sat there smiling. I looked back at the arcade to watch the ending -- my boy Rocky destroying the news studio. A wide grin forming on my kisser, I thought to myself, "I can't wait for this to hit the SNES!"
*FLASH FORWARD TO SPRING 1992*
One idyllic Saturday afternoon, my dad and bro were out shopping, my aunt out with her girl friends and my mom and uncle had to go to OSH Hardware store to pick up some knick knacks. My mom wanted me to come along, and she told my uncle to bring David too (my three and a half year old cousin at the time, yes, the same David honored in BUON COMPLEANNO!) As documented, my uncle was the cool and life's a picnic kind of person, the total opposite of his sister, my mom, who feared and expected the worst in life to happen. This is the same uncle that rented me HALLOWEEN when I was only six-years-old! (Memories of Renting). Ironically, years later I introduced his son David to the series, to which he, like me, fell in love with. And this past August we caught Rob Zombie's version... life'sfunny eh?
I was in the living room, catching the tail end of the Saturday morning cartoons, when I heard them in the kitchen
"Relax sis, let Steve stay home and watch David"
"Are you crazy? He's only 8!"
Typical Mom, I thought to myself. I don't want to go to the hardware store, I rather stay home, watch cartoons and hang out with David
"8 and a half," my uncle corrected. That's right -- tell 'er, Jimmy!
"Look sis, I trust him. And we're only going to be gone 25, 30 minutes at the MOST. Now c'mon, quit worrying and let's give Steve this babysitting responsibility that I know he can handle"
That made me so happy to hear. That was Uncle Jimmy for ya. Always looking out for my best interest. My mom mumbled something that I didn't catch. Next thing I knew they walked into the living room and told me to behave and watch over David for the next half hour. They left, and for the first time in my life, I found myself home alone. Well, with a toddler, mind you. I looked over at David, who was sitting in his play area with a bemused look on his little angelic face
It was one of those cloudy Saturday afternoons you wish would never end. I always loved staring at clouds, and making out monsters and creatures in 'em. I sat there staring out the window, talking to David about the images I saw in the clouds. I told him about the three-headed dog I spotted, and the old lady carrying a bucketful of moon, and David responded by clapping jubilantly, "WOW WA!" And then... I saw it. It was ENORMOUS... gargantuan... out of nowhere this cloud formation had taken place and I could make out its menacing eyes, big teeth and nasty spikes atop its head
It reminded me of Geon, only hit by the ugly stick 100 times over
I took out a piece of unlined paper and made a sketch of the creature I saw in the clouds, all the while talking excitedly to David about this grosteque yet amazing sight in the sky. By the time I finished the sketch, the clouds moved and just like that, the creature was no more
Then I glanced back at my drawing. Green leathery hide, red eyes (I'll have to color it in later, I told myself) and the biggest teeth this side of the galaxy... what a perfect monster...
But something was glaringly missing... a name!
Well the good thing is I don't need to worry about a patent pending because yeah... Red Eye Teeth, nuff said. But hey, that's the sheer bliss of being eight-years-old. The bad news though is my bro, over the years, tore up my sketches. Red Eye Teeth looked most like this Battle Beast here, only uglier
With the inspiration of Red Eye Teeth, I created 11 other monsters, drew them up from my imagination, gave them various powers, and had dreams of creating the franchise known as MONSTER FIGHTER, inspired, game-wise, from King of the Monsters and Street Fighter II. I created enough monsters for a MONSTER FIGHTER 7, where the series would conclude, having all the previous monsters in the franchise, with the final new batch of 7, my favorite number. Good times. Sadly, my bro destroyed all my papers in the early 90s after various fights we had. But he cannot destroy the memories I have of that idyllic Saturday afternoon, babysitting David for the first time, spotting Red Eye Teeth in the clouds, and dreaming about the ultimate crossover -- Street Fighter II and King of the Monsters...
The game that sadly never was...
*FLASH FORWARD TO DECEMBER 1992*
My mom and I used to go shopping all the time. I always hit the same ole five stores: Suncoast, Kay Bee Toys, Walden Books, some times Sam Goody, and of course, the classic SOFTWARE ETC.
Now rarely did she buy me anything, but it was fun enough thumbing through books, EGM mags and drooling at the various awesome action figures
Being December and all, Santa was there on hand. Taking pictures, kissing babies and shaking hands. At nine and a half years old now, I was too old for that stuff, but not old enough to notstill believe in the magic of Christmas, as hokey as that may sound to the rest of us. So instead of sitting on Santa's lap, I sat back from afar and admired what had been, and what once was
My mom came over and asked me if I wanted to meet the mall Santa, but I told her I was too old. She looked at the kids rushing up to Santa just twenty feet away from us, lost in her thoughts. Somewhere in her aging face I saw her loosen up, as if she suddenly missed the days when I was that young and scampering around. Perhaps it was the right kind of Christmas magic I'd need for what was about to transpire....
There it was, in big and blue bold letters. I always made it a point to hit SOFTWARE ETC. every time we visited the mall, but of course I could only DREAM of my mom complying to buy me a video game. Still, like a moth to flame, those bold blue letters always sucked me in. I stood there that evening in sheer awe of the endless shelves of SNES goodies, games in which I could only dream of owning. And then, there it was. High on one shelf I saw it, like a beacon of light. KING OF THE MONSTERS for the Super Nintendo! I nearly had an accident in my pants, recalling to myself how it was just ONE year ago that I'd beaten the arcade and thought to myself, "Man, I can't wait for this to come home!" And now, it finally has. Only one problem, of course. How can I convince Mom to buy it? Standing there, staring at the pristine shiny King of the Monsters box, my mind raced through everything I could think of in order to weigh the odds in my favor
I didn't have very long to think...
"C'mon Steve, we gotta go back home now," my mom interrupted my train of thought
"What is it?"
"That," I pointed to the King of the Monsters box sitting on the top shelf. "I want that"
OK, so much for poetic language and convincing arguments
My mom gave me the look. Uh oh. This task was going to be about as easy as Quantum Physics... "Honey, that's fifty-five dollars," she started
"No it's fifty-four ninety-nine!" I blurted out. HA! I had her -- ah the bliss of being nine...
"Well actually with tax it's about sixty," she corrected
DAMN. Talk about backfired...
And then, out of nowhere, it hit me. My trump card. I explained to her how it was my favorite game, how I had to have it and how much joy it would bring Kevin and me. And that if she bought it, it would be my Christmas gift and my Birthday's as well! Yes, I really wanted that sonuvabitch!
My mom grabbed the box and examined it. "Hey, isn't this the game you played all night last year at Chuck E Cheeses? Is this the same one?"
I nodded furiously and watched as my mom bit her lower lip, contemplating what to do. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she took the game to the counter. I stood there as they swiped her credit card, and I just couldn't believe it. The first game she ever bought for me. Outside I could hear the chattering of youngsters and the HO-HO-HO's of the Mall Santa. The magic of Christmas is still very much alive and well, I told myself with a hearty grin
Exactly. What could possibly go wrong? My bro and I selected the Player 1 VS. Player 2 mode
Wait-a-sec! The excitement quickly dwindled as I saw there were only four monsters!
The HELL?! What gives? Where was the King Kong wannabe, Woo? And what about the Smog Monster AKA Hedorah, where was his twin Poison Ghost?
I'll tell you where: nowhere to be found, except here... grr..
But I quickly reminded myself what I cared most about was the Texas Tornado Bedlam tag team mode, where all four monsters duke it out. Hey, as long as they keep this intact, I can overlook the fact that Woo and Poison Ghost are somewhere on vacation
THE BASTARDS! BLOODY HELL! Nowhere was the four player mode offered. So, two monsters were missing and the best part of the game -- the tag team battle -- was wiped. Quite frankly, that freaking blows
But the funny thing is, even as a kid I knew it was a butchered port, and that the game was average at best, but somehow, I still loved it. It still played like the arcade game, the cities were still fun to trash, and it was still King of the Monsters in my living room. A couple days after my mom bought the game, I was playing it one night with my brother when she urged us to turn the game off so we could drive downtown to see the Christmas lights. It was a tradition in my family that every Yuletide we do so. Again, it's funny, I knew the port wasn't very good, but I still couldn't help but love it in a strange way. I loved the lights, but that year my parents had to pry me away from my Super Nintendo. I guess as my brother and I got older and older, the more my mom fought to keep certain traditions alive. Like the night she bought me the game, how she urged me to go sit on Santa's lap. I guess that's something I'll find out for myself one of these days...
But I'm digressing, as usual. That night we went downtown. We watched the lights, the elves and we took in the cool December night air. I still enjoyed it, but I'll be perfectly honest with you: the whole time there I kept thinking to myself: When can we go home so I can resume playing King of the Monsters?
[You're ABSOLUTELY sick -Ed.]
In the early part of the new year, 1993, my mom would take me to places like ROSS. I remember one time I'd brought with me the KOTM manual, and I walked up and down those aisles with my head buried in the booklet. When my mom stopped to thumb through the clothing items, I would sit on the ground reading the manual. I tell ya, I was obsessed with the game. The manual I could probably recite it passage for passage [OK now you're scaring me -Ed.]. Unbelievable, huh? Well, at least my mom got her sixty dollars' worth, eh? This was definitely no fly-by night flavor of the week toy. I had a bond with the game that went beyond graphics, sound and gameplay. It's funny, those days seem like they happened 30 years ago, when in fact it's only been about 15 or so...
I re-read this sumbitch cover to cover 100 times over
WHAT'S THE PLOT?
Mode and options. My heart sank when I realized they got rid of the tag team game
Not only does your monster get a new look, but he also receives a boost in strength!
THE KING OF THE MONSTERS
GEON Special Attack: FLAME CRUSHER
When an ice glacier melted due to the abnormal warm weather in the Russian mountains, it unleashed the horror that is Geon! Unhappy to be roused from his deep sleep, he takes it out on anybody, or anything, that gets in his way. His hobbies include destroying cities for the hell of it, and gobbling trains. The first character I selected, I have a soft spot for ole Geon. I tend to use him the most -- his level 3 FLAME CRUSHER is quite the sight for sore eyes!
Unmistakingly inspired, and a nod to the Big Guy himself, Godzilla
Probably another reason why Geon is my favorite
His running attack sees him taking full advantage of that razor-sharp horn. LOOK OUT!
Flame Crusher at level 1. Three fire balls of destruction are wickedly emitted from his mouth
At level 2 they spiral for additional velocity and damage
Where this mountain of rocks comes from, no one is sure. Rumor has it Rocky is a monster evolved from the Sphinx, Egypt's God of Protection. Others believe he descended from the stars, angry with the way 20th century mankind has treated the environment. But one thing is for sure, the dude has a nasty disposition! Don't let this pile of stone fool you -- how Rocky can move so well is a mystery. I like Rocky, he's got a cool roar and was the monster I used to beat the arcade game 16 years ago
Guess we been through a lot over the years, eh, Rocko?
Clearly, he takes his inspiration from this guy. OK, maybe not
Rocky's SWEET running clothesline will bring a smile to any wrestling fan's face
Once charged, Rocky can unleash his deadly Rocky Bomber. The first form sees 3 head- crushing rocks coming out of the secret portal opening in his chest
Like Geon, level 2 spirals for added speed and damage
Rocky has the least amount of projectiles at level 3, but they're just as deadly
BEETLE MANIA Special Attack: BEETLE MISSILE
An ordinary beetle residing in the Amazon, one fateful evening that all changed when the mad creature underwent a horrific and mysterious transformation. Lacking any kind of intelligence, he destroyed even the forest in which he was born! However, his skills are plenty. With a hard body shell and tremendous fighting spirit, Beetle Mania now roams the earth in search for the next great fight... at the expense of civilization as we know it! Y'kno, I like this guy. He's got some class and looks elegant in green!
And clearly based upon Godzilla's 1973 nemesis, Megalon. Like many others in the Godzilla universe, I too am a fan of the "one hit bug wonder." It's too bad he wasn't resurrected for Godzilla Final Wars like how his battle mate Gigan was, but alas, I digress. I always found Megalon's costume to kick ass. It was a really cool suit. There are many haters of the movie itself, but that dam scene was damn good stuff [Oh dear -Ed.]
I sure as hell don't want to be Geon right now...
[Like when would be a good time to ever be Geon? -Ed.]
Oh, I can think of some days where I wouldn't mind being a 300 feet tall dragon beast...
Think poison darts, only 1,000 times deadlier!
Like Rocky's level 3, but this is only Beetle's level 2...
Beetle holds nothing back as he shoots out 8 deadly projectiles!
ASTRO GUY Special Attack: FLASH WAVE
Holding the distinct claim between the monsters as the only one being, uh, human, to a certain degree y'understand, Astro Guy started out as a mad scientist who experimentally transformed himself into a super muscle creature to fight the monsters suddenly appearing all over the world. What began as noble intentions to protect cities and rid the world of the monsters was soon corrupted by the absolute power of having no equal. Now what his true intentions are, nobody's quite sure of...
My bro's #1 fave, I never liked him as much but do I love his FLASH WAVE attacks
Obviously inspired by SPECTREMAN! Ah who could ever forget the tin wonder? Remember how big the US VHS cases were for the Spectreman tapes? My dad bought me the one where he takes on the Alien Hedgehog monster. The theme song was the best part:
Spectreman... Spectreman... In a flash, like a flame, faster than a plane, a mystery with a name, Spectreman!
Power from space, he'll save the human race, yet, they'll never know the face of Spectreman!
We will never know the source of his powers and his force as he guides this planet's course... Spectreman!
OK, we could also make a claim for JET JAGUAR! Godzilla's plucky one-time ally. Able to increase his size without the usage of neither steroids nor viagra, Jet Jaguar was truly ahead of his time back in ole 1973. Pouncing on Megalon's beetle behind like how Rosie attacks a double-layer chocolate cake, Jet Jaguar quickly became a fan favorite with his cool karate chops, cunning agility and laser vision
Unfortunately, he didn't fare so well against the much tougher Gigan, and like Megalon, he only appeared in one film in the Godzilla universe. Still, almost 35 years later, Jet Jaguar is fondly remembered by many G-Fans the world over. We salute you, Ultraman wannabe, Jet Jaguar!
Speaking of Ultraman...
Astro Guy's agility is on full display here as he plants Geon with a well placed dropkick!
Can't say I've ever seen that anywhere else before....
The only monster with 5 projectiles at just level 2
... And a whoppin' 9 at full strength! Astro Guy is a definite show-off!
You battle each monster twice. In the arcade this meant a grueling 12 rounds. At home it's a much more managable 8. Let's peek in now...
Stage 1 is home to Geon, but we've seen it already so let us jump to stage 2
The cool thing about the stages in KOTM are the authentic landmarks. As a kid I thought they were randomly there because it looked cool. Years later I came to realize, no, it's there because it's actually there in real life. SWEET
Uhhh... no comment
Yes, some of these towering skyscrapers can be seen, and destroyed, in the two Osaka stages. With Okayama having no tall buildings, Osaka was a very welcomed sight
Just another tip of the cap to TOHO!
It's all there, baby. Nice, eh? Good stuff indeed
"Alright gentlemen. We went over the rules in the back but just to reiterate, I want a good, hard-nosed, clean fight, alright? That means no zapping below the waist. Remember, I'm fair, but firm. Let's touch gloves!"
Monsters love to play hide & seek, too, y'kno
There's nothing better than pounding them with a piledriver...
And then watching the poor hapless soul go crashing through one of the big monuments scattered about. Sure, you can demolish the big buildings with three punches, but let's face it, the real fun comes in the form of sending your rival through one!
Ahh, the simple pleasures...
That Astro Guy... I tell ya, what a top bloke
Adding insult to injury... you gotta love it
[*slaps forehead* Speaking of fire... -Ed.]
Punch and kick each other long enough and both assailants will go flying in opposite directions. Gotta dig those cheesy hit sparks, or not
The classic GET UP severed hand remains. Continue and experience a jolt of power
Look at that, will ya? The Tokyo Tower is practically spot-on. Kudos
The throw inflicts the least amount of damage...
.... But does a great job of sending the rival through a landmark!
Indeed you're not, Hideki
Indeed you're not
Congratulations! You ARE... the King of the Monsters! Let's see how your efforts are rewarded...
"UNH, JUST THROW IT ON ME, UNH!"
Pick a battleship up and heave it at your opponent
Doesn't do much damage, but good enough to stop him in his tracks
Jump and grab one of the helicopters out of the air even!
You can also chuck the maser tanks
KOTM's gameplay will never be mistaken by anyone as being fair or perfect. Observe
[Please, I've heard this from you before already.... -Ed.]
And then give 'em the back suplex -- strongest move in the whole game
"So what? What's so cheap about this?"
It's a re-dizzy for some ridiculous reason. You can literally repeat this tactic 20 times in a row. No joke. Did someone not play test this thing? One might now be thinking, "Well OK it must be pretty hard to dizzy them, right?" Not so. A few consecutive throws with their health bar on low does the trick. So they get up in a daze, you go behind, press Y, back suplex, wait for them to get back up in a daze yet again, and repeat. For ultimate damage, while they're on their back side, charge your special attack and unleash. Sometimes you can nail them twice with it. Now, if there was ever a gameplay flaw, you're looking at it
The back suplex can also be applied in front during a grapple by pressing Y+B. But when your opponent is seeing stars, simply pressing Y or B from behind works
But hold on a sec here, if you thought that to be cheap... well....
No blocking, you're screwed if your opponent has the timing down pat
Only way one can be stopped... is this. Magically, it seems to happen when repeating this cheap trick 10 times or so... and the fire always finds a way to prevent you. Still, c'mon now...
Hey thanks, Genki. 'ppreciate it. I hope you're not just sucking up...
Genki dude:Of course not... oh, here's some fruitcake -- for you!
Genki dude:Uh the holidays, sir
Ahh, si, si...
I seriously feel like it's Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon! Hmmm, come to think of it, seeing Godzilla and his buddies in KOTM would have been pretty cool... imagine having a roster of 30 monsters to choose from, ranging from the King of the Monsters himself, pardon the pun, to one-time fan faves Titanosaurus, to more obscure cult monsters like the giant squid Gezora
*sigh* They never seem to make what you want. That's why you gotta do it yourself...
Rocky's bite animation always reminded me of the robot bloke on the NES Mega Man 3 cover! You see the resemblance, don't cha?
Speaking of resemblance...
Striking, init? Credit this wonderful art here to Nathan Newell and his excellent cool 80s site nathansmusclepage.com
That's Black Hole Sunshine vs. Wood Beetle for the record, but damn do Rocky and Beetle Mania look like them!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
It was all quiet on the western front. The game was released just before GameFan's time and EGM only ran a quick 1-page preview. Super Play rated it 79% though an actual review never appeared in the magazine. SNES King of the Monsters just never got much publicity, period
GENESIS VS. SNES
Which port is better? I've never played the Genesis port but it does look damn impressive. Looks much more identical to its arcade brother than the SNES port does. How it plays though I have no idea. Released about one year after the SNES port, the tag team mode and two monsters are still missing, but everything else looks to be pretty good. Check the graphical differences between GEN and SNES ports...
I'll take this one big blast over 8 small ones!
Nice... very nice! [/Borat]
That just looks painful! Shame, Genki, shame...
GameFan gave the Genesis port some good lovin' with scores of 82, 83, 87 and 89. "It blows the doors off the SNES version" and "makes it look like dog meat"
The Genesis port was developed by SPS
The arcade version was released by SNK in Japan on February 25, 1991. By freak accident, exactly 15 years later, I bought the SNES port (for the second time, but this time, with my own money). Back in '92 I recall having a strange fascination with the port despite my knowing how butchered it was. As I fired the game up in 2006, I wondered how much my opinion has changed, or lack thereof. You know, I still feel the same exact way to this day. It's a port that was stripped and should have been so much more, but still, it is essentially... King of the Monsters. It was never a perfect game. With some key aspects missing, the flaws are only accentuated. Still, I can't help but enjoy playing it... a guilty pleasure if there ever was one
The graphics are the best part of this game. Though grainy, and lacking intricate detail in the monsters themselves, the cities look pretty fantastic, especially the ones at night. I can't think of another SNES game that has the same 'look' or atmosphere of this game, which is a good and a bad thing for various reasons. Each stage is HUGE and you can roam just about anywhere within the confines of the two electrical barriers. Sound and music is OK, fitting for this game which has a Japanese 50s B-Movie feel to it. Sadly, it is the game play that abandons it. What could have been! First, the grapple system. Is it based on timing? No. Button mashing? Not that either. Nope, it appears that the victor is totally random. And thus, grappling is a wash and never feels wholly satisfying. Second, to win a match you must get a 3 count on your foe. But in order to do so, you must pin them four, five times AFTER their health bar has been fully depleted. Let's say you pound Rocky for 3 minutes solid once his bar is at zero, then you go for the cover, well, he'll still kick out at 2. What gives? It makes no sense to have to pin them several times. Hey, if you kick the snot out of somebody good enough, one cover should do it. And then of course, you have the two erroneous gameplay tricks as seen and documented earlier, in addition to the missing monsters and tag team mode
Speaking of the monsters, and this by the way was prevalent in the arcade as well, the monsters are EXACTLY the same, sans their special move and rushing attack. THE SAME! No difference in strength, speed, agility, or any of that good stuff. The moveset is severely limited -- you're relegated to a throw, back suplex, pile driver and a bear hug/bite hold in a grapple. How cool would it be if the monsters had their own unique moves, as well as possessing speed and strength differences? The game does have a nice wrestling feel to it, you can even send the opponents bouncing against the electrical barriers much like wrestlers bouncing off ring ropes, but the wrestling theme could have been expanded upon with more well thought out mechanics
Yet despite these glaring gameplay flaws, I still kinda like the game, y'know. Call it nostalgia, call it what you want, but there are just some games you have a connection with, and though they're far and far away from being great, or even good, you still play them because, in some strange, small ways, you enjoy doing so. Those types of games are always out there. And nobody can say exactly why, someone would like it, except for that person, and only that person. Yeah part of me is still bugged that Woo and Poison Ghost are MIA, and yes I'm still a bit disgruntled over the fact that they didn't retain the great tag team mode, but hey, like a good long-time friend, you accept them for who they are, warts and all
Hard to believe that 15 years ago, I was standing inside that SOFTWARE ETC. working my mom over to buy the KOTM game. Walking out, the game in my bag, I stopped to admire the mall Santa one last time. My mom put her arm over my shoulder and said Merry Christmas. I looked at the kids, and then I glanced down at the King of the Monsters box. Merry Christmas, indeed...