Genre: Action Developer: Realtime Associates Publisher: Viacom New Media Players: 1-2 Released: 1995
Nickelodeon was always pioneering slightly demented or bizarre shows aimed at the kids but with content that was not always geared towards them. Aaahh!! Real Monsters debuted on television in 1994, and it was one of the most popular shows on Nick along with Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, Catdog and Angry Beavers. All of them featured plenty of warped humor that keeps my attention even to this day. Since Aaahh!! Real Monsters was such a hit during its time, it only made sense to release a game based on the series. That’s just what Viacom did by releasing the game of the same name in 1995 for the Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles.
Before I started writing this review, I decided to go back and watch an episode of the show so I had a better idea of how accurately the game resembled it. I watched the show and now I really want to go and find the series on DVD since it had me laughing so hard. I do have to admit that while this game is fairly repetitive and tiresome, it follows the themes of the show remarkably well so I was really impressed as far as that aspect goes. You play as Ickis, Krumm and Oblina in a game that pays homage to the Lost Vikings series, although not with quite that much depth. Each of the three monsters tag along with each other and can be selected as the need arises, and each has a certain team capability that is needed to help you progress. Ickis (red) can perform a long distance team jump to cross large chasms, Krumm can throw his eyeballs out several screens away in order to view what’s ahead and Oblina will climb on top of the others’ shoulders so they can toss him up to grab ledges or jump to higher platforms. Each of these represent that character’s talents from the show really well.
The enemies come in the form of monsters, kids, adults and even animals which you can roar at to scare away or throw garbage at them as projectiles until they’re scared off. This game’s charm comes from the visuals. Every character, even the enemies, are really well-animated and full of personality, and many of them had me laughing at just how zany they all were. There is also a ton of detail in the backgrounds, especially in the underground areas where the monsters live. The rest of the stages vary from schools, warehouses and factories, among others, and they’re also are really nicely done. I did start to notice some repeated themes by the end of the game, which was somewhat of a disappointment since the rest of the visuals are fantastic. The music is full of that bizarre quirky sounding stuff that’s familiar in all of those games based off of cartoons. Most of it was generally pleasant to listen to but ended up becoming underwhelming and repetitive by the end of the game. None of the tunes were memorable, and several of them repeated throughout the game. The sound effects fare a lot better thankfully, and there is a ton of variety here as well. Each of them is very clean and crisp, especially for a Genesis game. The monsters’ roars all sound different, and the screams of the kids and other enemies are really amusing to listen to.
With all of this mentioned good stuff going for this game you’re probably thinking that this is one to add to your want list. However, it’s not without its problems or problem, to be more specific, and that is the game’s length. I was really enjoying myself for the first thirty minutes of gameplay, and the first few times I played it, but as I really started going deep with the game it started getting really repetitive and boring. I mean REALLY boring, to the point where I wanted to turn it off. Once I finished it I had no plans to go back to it ever again. There’s a longplay of this game on YouTube with no deaths, and the video is over an hour and a half so you can imagine just how long it would take a inexperienced gamer to complete it. The levels alternate between the monster’s home area and then a regular stage, and they all take a lot of time to complete. They start to all feel the same and start requiring the same tactics to complete. There are also several areas that have very difficult jumps to make, and one hit from a bouncing box or other object will usually mean a lost life. That’s not something that should be in a game of this style or length.
As a whole, Aaahh!! Real Monsters isn’t a bad game at all, as it has a lot going for it and it follows its source material remarkably well. Unfortunately, the designers didn’t put enough thought into the gameplay and variety to keep it entertaining for its entire (long) length. Despite that, it’s still worth it to try it out as least to relive the memories of the show and see the great animation and quirks that it has to offer. It’s one of those games that is good for a first try or until you have a “game over” as you’ll have seen all it has to offer, but it won’t drag on that way. In other words, check it out, but I can’t really recommend it beyond that with any real sincerity.