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Monty On The Run (Gremlin)




I must admit, even though I’m not very informed in the world of retro computing I do have a small and burgeoning love for the Commodore 64. As I found out after buying mine though most of the games are either on cassettes or 5 ¼ inch floppy disks, I have no desire to buy and set up such bulky machinery in my room as I don’t have the space for it, so I cheated. I bought an SD2IEC SD card reader, and intend on loading it up with all of the best, and worst, games for the system and play my life away, and since I can play the games on actual hardware they count as review material, if I had a Harmony Cart or an Everdrive it would be the exact same. So I’m gonna break the thing in with what is likely my favorite game for the system… Monty On The Run. No this is not a good game, in fact I’d say it’s pretty bad, but it has something that redeems it of any faults whatsoever, and we’ll get to that later, until then, let’s get onto the graphics.


This game looks very simplistic, even for a C64 game, but despite the simplicity the game doesn’t suffer for it. Everything is imaginatively designed and fairly easy distinguish, this is one of the only times where I find a plain black background acceptable because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to make sense of anything. Enemy design is also extremely weird, I can’t figure out what 99% of these things are, all I know is I gotta avoid ‘em. M.O.T.R. is an old fashioned screen-by-screen platformer, in the same vein as Montezuma’s Revenge, but set in a more urban setting, you’ll be jumping your way through houses, backyards, and sewers, whilst solving puzzles; I’m getting ahead of myself. There are several things that I feel could have been improved on, mainly how blocky everything is, but I have the feeling that would have taken up valuable space on the disk, and hey when you only have 170 kilobytes per disk your gonna take shortcuts to shrink your file size. The only other thing worth mentioning is Monty’s adorable jump animation; the dude literally does front flips and it’s amazing.


I love this game’s music… I love it so much I made a cover of it using BeepBox (Listen to it HERE). This music is SO good sometimes I just leave the game running so I can listen to it forever. It’s also a long song clocking in at almost six minutes (now I know where all that disk space went), so you never get annoyed with it. We all know of games with short annoying musical loops that make us press the mute button, but with M.O.T.R. it’s the opposite… CRANK THAT SHIT UP!!!! This is the thing that absolves this game of all faults since you don’t even have to play it to enjoy it.


Sadly this game is not that fun to play, at least in my opinion, the whole puzzle platformer thing isn’t really my favorite genre. Most of the difficulty comes from ludicrous enemy placement, which leads to amongst other things, excessive death. You have to jump at the perfect time every time, otherwise you lose one of your five lives, lose ‘em all and it’s back to the beginning. Without cheats and after playing for several hours, I managed to get a highscore of 550 and only seeing five screens, with cheats I can see that beating this game without being the most patient human in existence is an impossibility, but I don’t care because of that awesome music. This is usually the time where I say that there is a time limit but thankfully the developers were merciful and didn’t implement one. This game also has booby traps, hidden bombs, crushing hydraulic presses that always seem to go off whenever you’re beneath them, hidden platforms that force you back to an earlier part of the game making you go through hell a second time, and teleports that take you to locations you don’t want to be in. Whew! This game is absolutely brutal, and to anyone who can actually beat this game without cheating I salute you.


While this game isn’t the most expensive one ever it still is a Europe only release, which means it runs even faster on American systems, but if you’re interested in buying a copy the shipping is more than the game, I’ll let that statement speak for itself. I must condemn this game to the Collector’s Zone for being too damn hard, but the music is oh so fine!


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The Monty series, starting with "Wanted: Monty Mole" and I believe ending with "Impossamole" were made in the same tradition, and competing with, the Miner Willy series (Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy) as well as the Blagger series and others. I'll admit its music is better than the playing experience but for its time I think it was well received and pretty hard to beat too, as you already noticed.


Generally I think the best games tend to have average music, while the most memorable tunes come from mediocre games. This applies to all of the biggest names like Rob Hubbard, Ben Daglish, Martin Galway and the rest. Oh, the irony!

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