Frankenstein: The Monster Returns
At a Glance: Many people know Bandai as the maker of a bunch of crappy Inyusha and Gundum Wing games. Well, most people don't really know that, but it's an easy way to introduce an article. Anyway, Bandai's coffers have been filled to the brim over the years by releasing such brilliant triple A titles as Digimon Racing and Digimon Rumble Arena 2. Bandai's reputation throughout the video game industry as a respected and influential game developer is paramount to their financial success. Or maybe they are just really good at getting kids to whine to their parents about Digimon and Inyusha until they cave in and buy them the fucking video game. Either way Bandai executives enjoy a life of luxury in an increasingly competitive industry. Bandai wasn't always number 1 however. Back in 1990 Bandai was just a small company making games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Little did they know what lurked in their future. Bandai's picture perfect dreamland turned into a nightmare when they released one of the most horrible games for the Nintendo platform. That game was Frankenstein: The Monster Returns. No, you won't find it on their official web site as the company has since forgotten the ill-fated title. But I haven't forgotten. Frankenstein finds a new home in Something Awful's RomPit, where mediocrity is celebrated for the way it makes other games seem that much better in comparison.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 149k
Game Plot: The only thing I really know about Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is that by not reading it caused my final grade in 10th grade English to go down substantially as opposed to if I had been smart enough to buy the Cliff's Notes like everyone else did. Despite my ignorance I do know one thing about the book, THE MONSTER'S NAME ISN'T MOTHER FUCKING FRANKENSTEIN!!! Years of shitty Hollywood movies loosely based on the novel have bastardized Shelly's story about a scientist and the creature he created from dead body parts. Hollywood has transformed the story of Victor Frankenstein into just another monster movie. Japan-based Bandai, looking for a game to release on the aging Nintendo platform, reaches into the public domain grab bag, pulls out Frankenstein, and proceeds to perform the worst bastardization on the story yet.
Before the game begins you are asked to enter your name. This allows you to connect with the main character and feel like you are a part of the storyline. I entered "cock" and was reminded of my carefree days as a child when I would name every character in an RPG "cock", "cuntlips", or "John Stamos". I still giggle a little bit when I do that sometimes, which is more of a pathetic reflection of my maturity level than anything else. When the story begins you find out that Frankenstein has risen from the grave and has returned to terrorize your village! He destroys a neighboring village because he's a jerk and kidnaps a girl named Emily who, according to my experience, really wants cock. So off you go after Frankenstein yet again.
On your adventure you'll meet many friends and allies such as the Blademaster, who refers to you as human even though he is clearly also a human. You'll also meet many enemies who want nothing more than to see you fail. The characters you meet sometimes give you power ups, hints on destroying bosses, or simply exist to bewilder you. The dialogue is terrible and more poorly translated than a Spike Lee movie translated into French by a guy who speaks only Chinese. The default text speed seems like it was set for people who can read roughly six words per year. Luckily the A button speeds things up to a sixth grade reading level. The characters are all drawn in an anime style. It's like Bandai took the monster from Frankenstein and put him in a bad anime movie. No wonder he's so pissed off!
The story is just a flimsy pretext to get to the gameplay which consists of fighting enemies and bosses thought up by some worried programmer about to lose his job that have nothing to do with Frankenstein. The problem with the story line is that you have no clue what you are doing or why you are fighting any of these enemies or bosses. You'll be chasing after Frankenstein and suddenly you have to fight this monster because hey, it's a monster and you're not. In one such cut scene a Water Dragon appears and says, "I don't know where you are from boy, but if you want this treasure chest, you must defeat me." You're just dumped into situation after situation with no cohesive narrative. This is all well and good for Valve games, but I expected a little bit more from Bandai. Look, Water Dragon, I don't want to defeat nor do I want your treasure. I'm just trying to find a way out of this game!
It should be noted that this is the sequel to the original Frankenstein game on Nintendo. It's pretty much the same game where Frankenstein kidnaps a girl and the hero has to go after him with the notable exception of words like "back" and "returned".
Enemies: The enemies range from inexplicable blobs of color to shapes that might look like either a wasp or a turd with wings. I don't know how to make those nifty GIF animations that Psychosis does. I asked him to teach me but he told me no because I ran over his kid once. It was only one time! Jeez, some people sure know how to hold a grudge.
Lazy Grim Reaper Guy - The Lazy Grim Reaper Guy is the first sub-boss of the game. He just chills out and teleports to various locations on the level. If you happen to be standing next to him he'll go ahead and hit you with his scythe, but you know, whatever is good for you. He's really the laziest Grim Reaper who ever lived, or died. Just kick him in the head and he'll go away. After you defeat him a terradactyl will fly in and try to carry you to the beginning of the level because he's a jerk. If he succeeds you'll have to fight the Lazy Grim Reaper all over again. Great game design!
Purple Version of Yourself - The Purple Version of Yourself comes from a very long line of palette swapped enemies. He's the ultimate palette swap of all, you! He materializes from a pool of liquid like that guy from Terminator 2. This game predates that film by a year. Who stole what idea from who, eh? Just punch him and he'll turn back into liquid and possibly disappear off the screen because sprites in Nintendo games tend to do that a lot.
Flying Mouth with Sexy Lipstick - The Flying Mouth with Sexy Lipstick is a lovely creature whose intentions are misunderstood. It doesn't want to hurt you. It just wants to give you a kiss, a KISS OF DEATH THAT IS! Flying mouths are by far the creepiest enemy that you could put into a video game. As a child I had nightmares that my dead grandmother's mouth would come back to haunt me and peck my cheek to death. It's because of this that I can't play this game without taking a sedative to calm my frazzled nerves. Because you won't let it kiss you the flying mouth will suck on your head until you get tired of it and die. What a horrible way to go.
Orange Strongman with a Helmet and Tentacles for Feet - Orange Strongman with a Helmet and Tentacles for Feet had a very traumatizing childhood. That's why he roams the forest looking for warriors to pick on. He does this to get away from his horrible wife named the She Monster. You'll eventually have to fight and defeat them both because they just weren't right for each other. After you defeat the She Monster the Orange Strongman thanks you because he had to pay that bitch a shitload of money in alimony payments.
That Thing From Creature from the Black Lagoon - You have to fight this goddamn thing anytime you fall into the water in the second level. You might as well just reset the system as this point because there is no way you are going to beat him. You need to smash the A button as fast as you can to swim even an inch. Jesus Christ, what kind of hell is this? I guess the Creature from the Black Lagoon is mad because he didn't get a piece of the royalties for the movie they made about him. Those Hollywood producers are all a bunch of thieves I tells ya!
Of course the game doesn't leave you without the hardware to defeat these baddies. Armed to the brim with weapons ranging from a sword to a turkey leg, you'll be killing monsters in both taste and style. There are also powerups that allow you to shoot projectiles from your weapons because hey, every other game does it, why not this one? Unfortunately once you get the sword in the second level it makes any other weapon the game lets you pick up completely and utterly useless, as they all have less range and power. There are more enemies but I hate them and they smell.
Number of Levels: There are at least three levels because that's how far I got before my Game Genie codes stopped working. The hit detection in this game is so bad that you need pinpoint laser guidance system precision when attacking bosses and enemies. When you go in for a kick you usually end up getting hit yourself. I also have the attention span of a ferret and don't feel like learning the bosses' AI routines and would rather turn the game off and fall down a well.
The levels range from town to forest to castle. If you tilt your head and squint your eyes they all look a little bit like the things they are supposed to. There is also a pointless sewer level that you can access by going into one of the buildings. At the end of the sewer is a water dragon that you need to defeat to get a life potion that will restore your health. You'll definitely need it to restore the health you lost trying to get there in the first place, which makes the whole thing a giant waste of time if you think about it.
Bosses: There are some bosses.
After you beat the first level you fall down a hole. In the very next scene you fall from the sky and meet the first level boss who is named Demon Horse, a cross between a gargoyle and a horse. He's been waiting a long time for a worthy opponent and since you're the only person in the immediate area you get to fight him. He's simple enough to beat. Simply dodge his attacks that consist of gently floating in the air and punching like a spastic idiot. Strangely enough he's actually easier than the sub-boss because of the terrible fucking hit boxes.
The second level end boss is a flying medusa head that sticks it's tongue out at you. It's laughably easy and not really worth the effort of focusing your full attention on. You could watch wrestling, cook a pot roast, and draw tentacle demon animu while fighting this boss and win every time.
The third level boss is a knight in grey armor and his legion of man servants. They'll try to gay you to death. After you beat them you get to fight the knight guy. This is where I stopped playing because my Game Genie invincibility code didn't work when he hit me with his sword so I quit and started writing this stupid article.
I've seen some pictures of the last boss and I can tell you that he is a giant Frankenstein that is 10 times taller than the main character. Forget it. This is the stupidest game ever.
Defining Moment: When I realized that Bandai created what is basically the Japanese anime equivalent of Frankenstein. It makes me wonder what other stories would be like if they were recreated as anime. Will we see anime versions of The Great Gatsby? The Catacher in the Rye? Fat Albert? Only time will tell, friends. Only time will tell.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).