A Charming Little Adventure

User Rating: 8 | Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom NS

Monster Boy was a game that caught my attention because of it's art style. While I am not a big anime fan at all, the animation seemed to be fun and charming, so one day when the game was on sale, I went ahead and bought it. Overall, I enjoyed the game, despite a few frustrations.

You start the game as a kid named Jin, who quickly realizes his uncle is up to something strange. Jin gets transformed into his first non-human form, a pig, and the adventure begins in it's true fashion. Throughout the game, you fight bosses and earn new abilities and transformations that open up the map. Each area is beautifully animated and the art style is simply superb. It's a metroidvania style game and it really is a ton of fun. New transformations make previously unobtainable areas easily accessed, in true metroidvania style. In your transformations, you gain new abilities as well that further add to your different creatures you take the form of.

Boss fights were the highlight of the whole game for me. I thoroughly enjoyed all except one of the boss fights in this game. Each one was a ton of fun to try and figure out, having a Zelda-esque way of making you utilize one of your recently obtained abilities to defeat them. There are also some surprises that you find as you come across some of the bosses, where the encounter will completely change the style of the game throughout the fight. When this would happen, I would have a huge grin from ear to ear, it was so much fun. The one boss I didn't like was because it wasn't immediately clear what I had to do to figure out what I had to do to beat him. After a cycle of dying several times and getting frustrated, I finally looked it up and wasn't sure how I was supposed to figured it out.

This leads me to some other frustrations I had with the game. Overall, fighting regular enemies can be a frustrating chore. Regular enemies aren't tough to eliminate per se, but in most of your forms in the game, you are unable to attack up or down. Further to that, there is no attack at any angle for any of the forms. This makes fighting a regular enemy significantly more frustrating than it should. Why only certain forms let you attack up or down and completely negating any kind of angle attack just seems so weird. This led to several situations where I would have low health on a regular basis and have to trek through some areas with a lot of enemies on little to no health. There are potions that you can get which will allow you to regain some health upon death, but you can only carry one at a time. On top of that, health can be difficult to come by at times.

Further, there is a staff you get that allows you to teleport between areas easily, but switching between weapons requires you to open the pause menu and make the switch. This can be a tad frustrating when you are trying to make your way through an area and require a different piece of equipment to advance more easily. Repeatedly opening up the pause menu to switch your equipment is just tiresome.

One thing that must be truly appreciated about the game is checkpoint placement. The checkpoints are well done and keep you close to where you previously were. This helps to alleviate frustration when you are trying to solve a tough platforming puzzle or section that leads to an untimely demise.

The game also looks solid and performs very well on the Nintendo Switch. In handheld mode or docked mode, I never noticed a frame rate dip and the resolution always seemed to be fantastic. I don't know the exact pixel counts, but the game is advertised as 1080p docked and 720p in portable mode. From what I can tell it is as advertised. The frame rate is advertised at 60fps, and I am confident it rarely ever dipped on the Switch, despite being handheld or docked. There was one major problem I had in terms of performance with this game. I had to beat the final boss twice, because after the first time I beat it, the game screen went black and froze. A google search had me learn that even with the most recent patches, this isn't an uncommon occurrence. This kept me from viewing the final cutscene, which I had to beat the game a second time in order to view.

Overall, I would recommend the game to anyone interested. It's a fun game with some frustrations and one major glitch (for me at least) that don't totally take away from how good and charming the whole experience is.