Review: Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we try not to get scared in the Sega Genesis game Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. We find out if this adventure game is worth playing.

This game was released in 1995. It is based off of the mid-90’s cartoon of the same name.

You play as three characters, Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm. Ickis is the red monster, Oblina is the black and white cane-like character, and Krumm is the one carrying his eyeballs. These three characters are attending a monster academy and are being ordered around by The Gromble. In most levels, the objective is to collect a special item, but in a couple of levels, you must also scare a particular person.

Each character has slightly different abilities. Oblina has the highest jump while Crumm can squeeze through smaller spaces. Wherever once character goes, the other three are able to follow.

There are basic moves you can perform. The first move is a scare. The scare scares off all enemies on screen. It is also capable of either stunning or damaging bosses. The second move is the garbage throw. Technically speaking, you can throw an unlimited amount of garbage. However, you can collect extra garbage through the bags or fish bones. The extra garbage allows you to throw three pieces at once instead of one. The final basic move is jumping.

While those are the basic moves, there are special moves players can perform. Each character has their own special move. In order to perform your special move, you must hold up and then press the scare button. Oblina’s special move is to stack every other character and climb up for an added leg up. If you are next to a ledge, you’ll be able to climb up onto the ledge. Otherwise, you’ll just jump.

Ickis’ special move is the long jump. With all three characters, they are able to jump past larger gaps if there is enough space to build up the momentum.

The final special move belongs to Krumm. The characters will use one of his eyes to shoot a distance across the level. After this move is performed, you’ll be able to see a small square in the direction you teed off with the eye.

This game features a sort of hot swapping feature. If all three characters are somewhat close together, you can perform a switch. to execute a switch, you must hold down and press the scare button. The icon in the banner next to your free lives will change to the currently selected monster.

There are a host of collectible items you can find in each level. In addition to the fishbone and garbage bag, you can also collect large books. You have a limited number of scares, but if you collect a book, you’ll be awarded an additional scare.

Some items restore health. The little bugs that crawl around will restore a small amount of health. To collect, you must duck to eat it. An apple core and soda can will also restore small amounts of health. The big item to look for, though, is the jar of insects. This jar will fully restore your health.

One final item of note is the free life. This appears as your standard “1up” icon. Obviously, collecting it will increase the number of lives you have left.

Along the way, you’ll eventually encounter a mini-game. This mini-game uses Ickus and Krumm on a teeter-totter. You start with Ickis jumping. This initiates the jumping. You must propel either Ickus or Krumm into the various golden dinosaur skulls. The further to the edges the two land, the more side to side motion you’ll get. If you collect all of the skulls without dropping either monster once, you’ll get a continue. A continue allows you to keep playing after your free lives expire. A continue is also worth a whopping 9 lives, so earning them hugely increases you chance for success in this game.

Also along the way are various obstacles. Some are simply wire-like objects you climb across. Others are cranes you initiate to complete particularly large gaps. Sometimes, you’ll encounter switches on floors and walls. Some of the switches are hard to see while others have a lever style look to them. Switches often activates doors, but other times, they’ll change conveyor belt directions as well. It’s hard to say what they’ll do, but you can flick them either with your garbage throw or standing on them.

There are the occasional mini-bosses you’ll encounter along the way as well. All bosses do have a life meter, but defeating them requires a certain degree of creativity for the most part. Guard dogs require specially timed jumps and attacks. A few bosses require you to drop objects on them. Some bosses are standard fights. It’s hard to say what you’ll encounter in these fights, but know that there are different ways of taking them out.

Bosses are the same thing. The only difference is that you’ll be forewarned with the Gromble’s projector screen. If he directs you to scare a particular individual, that indicates the last level in a section of the game.

One thing to know about this game is that this game is supposed to be directed at a younger audience. This despite the horror setting it puts the players in. As a result, you’d think the game would ease up on the difficulty somewhat. In that case, you would be mistaken. The game’s difficulty is quite high. It starts off rather challenging and just keeps getting more and more difficult. While this would be off-putting to players in general, it’s especially annoying for younger players as well.

To make matters worse is the control style. The controls makes me remember what it’s like to program a digital wristwatch. There are only a few buttons, but you have to use specific combo’s just to perform necessary moves. What’s more is that there is no real intro level or anything that really prepares you for what’s ahead. It’s like the game assumes you’ll just know the moves in question. This gives the game a steep learning curve on top of it all.

In addition to this, the idea of using specific button combinations that use the scare button is particularly problematic. Using a limited major weapon in the game as a double-up to perform other moves just strikes me as poor planning. If you don’t execute the move correctly, you lose a scare that could have been critical for later in the game. Believe me, I’ve wasted my share of scare’s trying to make it up particularly high ledges. It’s a very annoying set-up in my view.

At first, the games continuity is pretty solid. Complete a few levels in the garbage dump before you complete a couple levels in the gymnasium level. After this, your location is all over the board. Sometimes you are in the dump, other times, you are in a different locale. In addition to this, there is no way of knowing how far along you are in the game or what to expect next. The lack of storyline throughout the game makes this a particularly bad problem for the game.

Thanks to a lot of these flaws, this game just gets less and less exciting. The further along in the game you go, the more you wonder if you are getting near the end. Eventually, it feels more like work playing through this game. What’s worse is that there is no save or password feature to continue the game at a later time. As a result, you must complete the game in one shot if you want to beat it at all. There’s no saving and coming back to it later.

It’s hard to think of very many positives in this game, but there is one: length. This game doesn’t seem to be one of those games that features a small handful of levels so you can be done in an hour or so. At the very least, a fair amount of effort was put into making this game at least long lasting. It’s unfortunate that it is hobbled with so many problems, though.

Generally speaking, this game starts off somewhat annoying and only gets harder to bear with it as you go along. There is no save or password feature. It’s controls are clunky and excessively complex. The learning curve is steep. Perhaps the only thing it gets right is that it lasts more than an hour or so.

Having said that, the graphics are pretty good. The animation sequences makes me think that I’m watching a cartoon more than I am playing a video game. This is well animated even if it does get in the way of the action a little. The levels themselves are nicely drawn and accentuates the cartoon style nicely. An overall great job here.

The audio is a fairly weak spot for me in this game. While the sound effects are nicely done, the music leaves a lot to be desired. It simply sits in the background and offers little more than to break up some stark silence. It doesn’t really do much more than that, though. So, while the sound effects and voice talent works quite well, it’s not enough to make up for such dull music.

Overall, considering the backing this game got, I’m left disappointed. This game came across to me as a quick cash grab more than a major effort to produce something exciting. The controls are clunky, the learning curve is steep, and there’s no way to retain your progress for a different session. The graphics are great with the animation sequences, but it does get in the way of the action a little form time to time. The voice and sound effects work quite well, but it isn’t enough to make up for such dull music. An overall disappointing effort.

Furthest point in game: Couldn’t get past the oil museum level and gave up out of boredom after several attempts to complete the level.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 58%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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