Top 100 Retro Games List: King of the Monsters
King of the Monsters
When I was a kid, one of the first genres of movies I fell in love with was Kaiju films. The local station WPIX showed Godzilla films all the time. In fact, the commercial for a marathon that is on Youtube, and has been linked to in the fantastic WPIX nostalgia Facebook group, is one I am pretty sure I watched! I loved the big guy and so did my mom. She never really explained her affinity for him, but until the day she died, she always tuned into TCM when they showed any monster film. Her favorite was King Kong.
“Legally Distinct enough” is something you see a lot with monsters, but especially Godzilla. Toho is very protective of the license these days. Games like the aforementioned Movie Monster Game, Rampage, and, of course, SimCity, have a licensed, or not, likeness in the game.
This brings us to 1991 and King of the Monsters for the Neo Geo, which, uh, has a few monsters that remind gamers of the legendary cinematic monsters like Godzilla, King Kong, and Megalon. It even borrows the subtitle of the not that great American version of the first Godzilla film. Diamond Fett’s recent This Week In Retro piece for Retronauts covers the details.
King of the Monsters has six fighters in six cities, starting with Tokyo. You pick one of them and then begin fighting your way through each city to defeat your opponent until you get to the end of the game.
Here is the thing: King of the Monsters is a wrestling game! You are going to be doing hip tosses and body slams a lot. A neat part of the game is energy walls around the, um, ring, city, uh, that serve as ring ropes. You brawl it out with your opponent until their life meter is gone and you pin them for a three count. Pretty neat, right?
King of the Monsters is definitely fun to play for a while. I had a blast making it through the game, but found myself frustrated in later matches, much more difficult as you progress, for the same reasons I am not a huge fan of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or other series like them.
I never felt like I was anything but on a knife’s edge while playing this game. Even when I had a lot of health, my opponent could always get an advantage. As Feit notes in their essay, once a monster is near yours, they will land a punch or kick on you. When I streamed the game, I found this to be very, very, frustrating.
There is also many button combinations and mashing that does not feel all that rewarding to me. Like Street Fighter II and its sequels, I never feel like I am doing the right combo of buttons at any point and only pull off great moves by luck and not really skill. This gets old after a while.
King of the Monsters is definitely worth giving a try. A few years later, it was ported to both the Super Nintendo and Genesis along with a sequel. It is available on the Neo Geo Mini these days and as a standalone release for the Nintendo Switch. Check it out and judge for yourself.