Some things are a bit dull when you're on your tod: swingball, chess, cottaging... The list is endless. The adage works for some games too: Worms, Gauntlet, Zombies Ate My Neighbours - all no fun without a pal. And, even though it will never be as fondly remembered, now Monster Madness has joined this league.
Essentially, you take control of one of four hormonal cartoon teenagers battling an undead invasion in their home town. It's all done in an isometric 3D perspective with you using the mouse to aim and WASD to move about. As you go around, you collect tapes, pipes and other crap which a biker chap makes into weird and functional weaponry. Vehicles are thrown into the mix every now and then (whose controls are far better suited to a gamepad), and all the time there's endless waves of zombies, lobbing physics items or trying to eat you.
The first problem with the game is the so-so combat. The enemies mostly rush straight for you. Every now and then you get trapped inside a ring where you've got to fight a set number of monsters or kill a big boss before you're allowed to progress to the next bit. All you can do is just run around in circles and pound them till they're dead; there's precious little in the way of tactics or variation. With four players on-screen, things can get heftily confusing too.
It's also an odd mix of different art styles. You can see that the original design wasn't working, so they've drenched it in olde-worlde filters, leaving it neither endearing nor professional but near to both. An irrelevant plot runs alongside this with a comic-book style that's not quite slick enough and definitely not well-written. Mostly it skips the funny bone and clumsily shatters your serious femur.
That said, the monster designs themselves are excellent, and the music is pure Danny Elfman, like a wacky uncle playing the Batman theme on a ukulele.
It's sad that there are no great Gauntlet-style hack-and-slash multiplayer games anymore. Despite its flaws, this is the best that an old workhorse of a genre has to offer so, if you must play it, play it with friends. Don't expect too much though....
Average zombies ate my mediocre neighbours
- Friendtacular co-op
- Great soundtrack
- Imaginative monsters
- Dull actual combat
- Tedious crap-collection mechanic
- Expensive for what it is