Monday, February 22, 2021

Matter of Import 038: Monkey Magic (Arcade, 1979)

 

Monkey Magic is a blockbusting game from Nintendo that deviates pretty far from the Breakout standard in a way that doesn't entirely work. While the block layout is fairly constant as a monkey's head, but the rules change through a number of faces as the game progresses.

At first you can't break any blocks – a bold stance for a blockbuster. Instead you see these three arrows that you need to hit to drive them up into the monkey's head. You don't need to push all three up, but as soon as any one of them penetrates its chin, all of them vanish and we find ourselves in the second segment.

Ready to break some bricks? Not so fast, cowboy!

The sides of the monkey's jaw vanish, allowing you access to its teeth – if you can get around the bottom of its jaw. There aren't many teeth to knock out, but it largely behaves as you'd expect – hit them, they're gone.

After that, the jaw vanishes and we enter the second to last phase – but instead of breaking blocks, our ball changes the color of the monkey's face, and toggles its eyes from Xs to Os. If you can make them both Os the chin reappears – but only to bounce your ball up to the top of the screen.

Monkey's face is green, we move on to the final stage – as with the teeth stage, we want to eliminate the monkey's hat.

And that's it! We can do it again, this time with more of those little monkey head bumpers that divert your ball. The game loops endlessly in this manner.

So. Evaluation. I'm disappointed... the graphics are simplistic, and gameplay isn't terribly engaging... while the precision required is somewhat reminiscent of pinball, this also draws out each segment unnecessarily. The cardinal sin here seems to be unnecessary complication of the basic gameplay formula, and earns Monkey Magic a D rating.

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