Thursday, 22 March 2018

Punch the Monkey - Game Edition (Playstation)

This game's got a pretty strange title, but it's there for a reason, as it's a pretty strange idea. Punch The Monkey was an album released in 1998 which featured a bunch of remixes of songs from the various animated adaptations of Monkey Punch's universally-beloved character Lupin III, and this is a videogame adaptation of that album, released in 2000.

Of course, it's a rhythm game, and it's an incredibly simple one at that: the song plays, an animated FMV is shown in the middle of the screen, and Playstation face buttons travel across the bottom of the screen. In the middle of the screen at the bottom, there's a little crosshair, and when a button reaches it, you press the button. There's also a set of colours at the top of the screen, showing how well you're doing, ranging from red (the worst) to blue (the best). At certain points in the song, if you're not in green or blue, you fail and have to start again. It's so simple, it's the kind of thing that you'd see as a minigame in an RPG or something, rather than its own whole game.

Simple doesn't mean easy, though, and it took me about six attempts to get past the first stage. It seems that this is a question of balance, rather than overall difficulty, though, as I breezed through the next few stages without problems. There are some other odd decisions besides the stage order, too, like how you don't actually get to hear most of the songs you're meant to be playing along with, as your button presses all make very loud noises that drown everythig else out, from bullet ricochets on some stages, to doorbells and animal sounds on others. Interesingly, the general presentation of the game is very much a part of a certain aesthetic things in the late 1990s/early2000s had when they were cashing in on 1970s nostalgia. Some of the fonts and swirly background patterns seen at certain points in this game are very reminiscent of the UK VHS and DVD releases of the 1970s Japanese TV show  Monkey/Saiyuuki that came out at around the same time.

Unfortunately, there isn't much more to be said about the game itself, though. There are apparently a series of minigames, unlocked by completing the main game on all difficulties but the easiest, and through those minigames, FMV clips can be unlocked to watch at your leisure, but it's just not worth playing through such a simple and unengaging main game. So all I have left is this little bit of trivia: it was developed by the company Kaze, who I associate more with their two excellent pinball games on Saturn, Last Gladiators and Necronomicon. Two years later, they also released Akira Psycho Ball, a very experimental and strange pinball game on PS2, which, like this game, was licensed from a popular classic anime, and also featured heavy use of FMV clips in little windows. How interesting!

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