Monster Jaunt (PC) Review
Much less random
Good party game
Not enough instruction
Some mini games too difficult
Not enough choice on game length
Beyond the various genres of games such as FPS, RPG, RTS, there are also styles of games. By which I mean what the intended audience of the game would be. There are games for hardcore gamers with intricate control schemes, games for kids that are cute and easy to understand, and somewhere in the middle are party games. Party games are unique in that they need to have easy enough controls for new players, non-gamers, but also be fun for returning or experienced players. It’s a lot to ask of a developer, but there are a few that stand out such as the Mario Party series of games. To celebrate and honor this well-known set of games, the folks at Sketch House Games have really tried to capture of the spirit of play there, while also trying to put their own spin on things.
Overall, party games have a few general underlying rules. There is a focus on multiple players, usually four, as many players as you can get plus some CPU made characters to fight against. It’s usually played on a virtual game board to make it feel like the traditional board games of the past. Moving your characters through the game board usually is a strategy in of itself as this leads to advantages or disadvantages with points or powers awarded based on location. Getting the most points at the end of the game means true victory, but before that happens there are a multitude of mini-games that allow you to gain points for the tally at the end. Mario Party popularized this kind of board games/video game fusion, and its proved quite successful. Monster Jaunt has gone out of its way to replicate this feeling of being on the board, moving tactically to gain points for the end game, and has created many different mini games to keep the players entertained.
The movement itself is different from others in that it’s not decided by a dice roll, but everyone has their own movement to use as they see fit. You can only move a certain amount of spaces, but where you is decided on what “card” you chose and how to gain points using it. For example, if the card I chose has two symbols on it, the location where I should go to gain points will also have those symbols on it, but since they are spread out, it’s a challenge from the get go. It feels a lot less random than the dice rolls, so it makes you feel you have a fighting chance instead of cursing the RNG of dice.
The mini-games are somehow both new but also nostalgic. Many are similar to the classic ones in MP but have their own flair. Catching falling items, rolling balls to score points, blowing up a balloon are all games you can play. But even the balloon games is a classic, yet instead of button mashing and hurting your hand, this is now controlled by deliberate controller inputs, so it feels earned instead of just mashing buttons. The only real downside to them is that they are just too hard, even on the easier difficulty, but this was also a problem in the old games so in that way they are truly paying homage.
Monster Jaunt really is a love letter to those that came before. Though they may be standing on the shoulders of giants, there was real care put into making the game better while also honoring its predecessors. If you don’t mind the poor (yet period accurate) visuals, the punishing mini games, and want to entertain some friends for a while, you should check this out.