Welcome, boils and ghouls, to the sixth annual 31 Days of Horror Games feature here at On the Stick. We’ve got a full month of spooky videogames being covered by a bunch of cool folks, so I hope you’re as excited as I am.
As has become my wont, I’ll be starting this whole thing off with an older game (and, as has also become the case more often than not, it will be a licensed game). The game this year is Konami’s 1992 NES outing, Monster in My Pocket. And if we’re going to talk about it, we should probably discuss the license.
Monster in My Pocket was a series of toys before it was a game. It was also a comic series, an animated special and a bunch of other stuff, but for me, I discovered it from the toys. I loved the toys. They were a collection of little rubber figurines, similar to M.U.S.C.L.E., but the rubber wasn’t as hard, they had some give to them. Anyways, they were just little figurines of spooky stuff, which I loved. But they were not long for the US, and from what I can tell, remained popular for longer in the UK, going so far as to get new lines as recently as 2006 across the pond.
Still, during their moment of popularity here, they were hot enough to get Konami to make and release a game in the US and PAL territories (but never in Japan, for obvious reasons). The game takes the shape of an action platformer, emphasizing the size of the titular monsters. This sees it play out a lot like Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers, but not nearly as good in execution. It is similarly two players, and allows players to choose either “Vampire” or “Monster.” This was a pretty transparent attempt to not call attention to them being Dracula (who looks like a hybrid of Max Schreck’s Count Orlok from Nosferatu and Bela Lugosi’s classic portrayal) and the Frankenstein Monster, despite both of those properties being public domain.
At any rate, a warlock (seemingly named “Warlock”) has taken control of what I believe to be all of the other monsters in the first series of toys (maybe one or two is missing?), and Drac and Frank have to take him out to stop his evil scheme. The game is pretty breezy, except for a somewhat frustrating boss rush at the end, which is definitely for the best. There are no power-ups to speak of, only a few items that can be found and thrown at other monsters (keys, etc.) and only one attack. Despite all of this, the relatively low difficulty and brevity of the experience keep the game enjoyable. Especially if you were into the toys as a kid. Or even if you’re just into monsters.
That’s where this game (and the toy line) really shines. The characters are monsters based on literature and film (Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster), as well as ancient mythology (Kraken), folklore (Spring-Heeled Jack) and more. Seeing all of the figures faithfully brought to life as sprite art is pretty rad, and it gives the game a lot of variety as far as the baddies that populate each stage.
Overall, it’s not the greatest game to come from Konami, but it’s got the quality you can expect from them on the NES.
- Released: 1992
- System: NES
- Developers: Team Murata Keikaku
- Publisher: Konami