Hands-onMonster Force

We take a look at with Universal's upcoming monster-based GBA game.

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Universal is having Digital Eclipse reinvent some classic movie monsters--the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein--for the upcoming GBA game Monster Force. What it's doing, specifically, is drawing them in an all-new style and throwing them in a series of Gauntlet-style gameplay environments, complete with the sorts of gameplay conventions you'd expect from such a design. We recently had a look at a build of the game, and the concept seems to work remarkably well.

Essentially, the game has you running through mazes from an overhead perspective, shooting whatever objects and creatures get in your way. The pacing is super fast, and the controls are nicely loose. You'll shoot projectiles at a very nice rate, which does much to further the game's shooter-esque feel. Each of the characters has a different projectile, though they can all "charge" their attacks in order to blast down obstacles that may be in their way. In the case of the levels that we played, the obstacles were giant pumpkins that would block passages. After shooting them with suitably charged bolts, though, they disappeared. You charge shots by holding down the B button for a second, and, once fully charged, you can let loose as many fully charged bolts as you want before moving. The enemies we got to fight were mainly of the incorporeal variety--gangs of ghosts spawned from monster generators were the most common adversary.

The game's visual design is heavily stylized. The three main characters' portraits (Drac, Frank, and Wolfie) were drawn in something of an anime style, and the game's cinematics have been made to look like they're playing on fuzzy, aging celluloid. The sprites themselves are prerendered 3D models, and they animate quite well on the GBA, despite their small size.

According to Universal, the game will feature 35 levels and five playable characters, so there will be two secret characters, if the information we have is correct. There's also a big multiplayer component to the game--you can use a link cable to have deathmatches with friends, and you'll have nine arenas to choose from. In all, the game is looking very nice, and its play mechanics seem fully fleshed out and perfectly smooth. We'll give you an update as soon as we get a playable build in.

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