Monster Party is a video game for the NES, released in the U.S. in 1989 by Bandai. It was and remains a relatively obscure platform game for the console, having a small following among some players. The game both pays homage to and parodies horror pop culture, alternately featuring enemies and locations based on classic horror icons, and parodic reinterpretations.
The story centers on a child named Mark who, on his way home from a baseball game, is approached by a winged, gargoyle-like alien named Bert who seeks assistance in ridding 'evil monsters' from his realm, 'Dark World'. Being the first person he encounters, Bert tries to enlist Mark as his aid in battle. Mark is reluctant to help, but Bert explains that anyone will do, and that Mark's baseball bat will be as good a weapon as any. Bert quickly whisks him away, and on the way to Dark World magically fuses himself to Mark so that they are one being (with Mark able to transform into Bert for a limited time).
The bizarre premise and plot introduction sets up a game that is filled with variations on many traditional horror characters and themes (sometimes with ironic twists), as well as relatively novel characters all its own. Some traditional horror bosses the game features include a mummy, giant spiders, zombies, Medusa, a Dragon, and The Grim Reaper. The game also features several enemies drawn from Japanese folklore and Japanese urban legends, such as Banchō Sarayashiki's well and Jinmenken (human faced dogs). Enemies unique to the game include a large, talking caterpillar; walking pants; a giant cat that hurls kittens as projectiles; and a bouncing piece of fried shrimp.
After making his way through Dark World and ascending into what appears to be some kind of Heavenly realm, Mark fights and defeats the Dark World Master. His realm now free of monsters, Bert returns Mark home and leaves him with a parting gift for his help. When Mark opens the box, a beautiful princess emerges; after a few seconds, though, she transforms into a hideous monster who melts Mark's flesh from his bones.
Mark suddenly awakens in his bed, his body intact. Believing his adventures in the Dark World was a dream, he prepares to leave the house to school, only to find Bert standing before the front door with Mark's bat. Bert asks Mark if he is ready to go again, and the game ends.
The player takes the role of Mark, who wields his bat to attack and to deflect projectiles. Rebounding projectiles back at bosses is often necessary to defeat them as Mark, as he otherwise has limited attack options. Enemies drop hearts, which replenish life, as well as pills which (for a small period of time) turn Mark into Bert, who can fly and shoot beams a limited distance. The effect of Bert's beams on enemies is stronger than Mark's bat attack, and gradually improves as the player completes levels.
Monster Party features eight levels, each of which has a unique password that allows the player to access a particular level without starting the entire game over. The basic objective in each level is to beat particular bosses (and a certain number of them) to earn a key and move on to the next level. Bosses are accessed by doorways found in the main part of the level, which is side-scrolling. However, many of these doors lead to empty rooms, adding challenge. Every door, whether it leads to nothing or a level boss, gives the player a question mark ('?') item, which can either provide the player with health, points, or transformation into Bert.
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