Frankenstein's Monster (Data Age)
After a bit of persistence I finally managed to complete the Data Age collection, that’s right, now I have a copy of every single Data Age Title. This is probably one of the easiest and cheapest publisher collections to finish due to the fairly low number of games released and how common most of them are. The only other publishers I can think of that might be easier to complete are Mythicon, and Vidtec/U.S. Games for the same reasons as Data Age. But… almost every publisher has that one game that for some odd reason is rarer than all the rest, or at least more expensive, and in Data Age’s case that game is without question Frankenstein’s Monster. This is likely their final game, which would account for its overall rarity, but what can’t really be explained is how good it is, especially when compared to Data Age’s previous releases. If you haven’t seen the second catalog released by these guys then you’re missing out, mainly because they were advertising games based on Smokey Bear, Mr. Bill, and Mr. T, man screw Secret Agent I wanna see what these guys could have done with Smokey Bear, no wonder these guys self destructed, just the licensing fees alone for big names like Mr. Bill and Mr. T would be exorbitant, and just look at how these guys handled Journey. In fact, I’m surprised that they didn’t try to license this game with Universal so they could make it a tie-in game for a 50(ish) year old movie. Enough chattering about hypothetical games though, let’s take a look at Frankenstein’s Monster.
This game looks incredible, not only is the screen covered in color, it’s covered in wonderful gradients. I didn’t know the 2600 was capable of displaying this many colors simultaneously, I counted about 28 different colors, that’s just awesome! I don’t really know where to start first, uh… how about the character and enemy sprites. Your little dude is comprised of five colors clearly distinguishing his clothing from his shoes to his hat. The enemies are far more basic in design being monochrome and in the cases of the spiders low-res. The environment is fairly basic in design, there are two tall brown walls flanking the monster, and some nice gradients representing the floors. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see what appears to be a log floating in a pool of water but don’t be deceived it is actually a pool of acid. There are several nice graphical effects when the lighting flares and the top of the screen flashes white, and the monster slowly turns green. This game also has a game over cutscene but I’ll talk about it in the gameplay section. So… this game has the graphics, but does it have the sounds?
This game isn’t sparse on the sound effects, most movements have a designated sound effect from running to jumping to climbing, but the only sound effect really worth mentioning is the thunderclap fallowed by the ominous DUN-DUN. By far though the best sound in the game is what plays in the game over cutscene, the crunchy terror it conveys is truly masterful.
This is a basic single screen platformer where you must get from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen whilst avoiding several different obstacles. On the top level you’ll be harried by an adorable ghost who’s incredibly bad at his job of harrying people. On the second level you’ll face off against some large spider creatures that walk from side to side, and pits that can actually be quite handy, or might just send you careening into a pool of acid. On the third level, the basement, you must jump onto platforms floating in the pool of acid whilst avoiding spiders that descend from the ceiling, the pits above can be handy since they sometimes line up with the platforms below saving you time you desperately need. The reason you’re making this dangerous trek to the basement is to gather stones to barricade Frankenstein’s Monster which is slowly being filled with Ecto Cooler after every thunderclap. Every time you get a stone up to the monster you will have to play a short minigame where you are being assailed by an ungodly number of bats. Making contact with a bat will stun you briefly so you must make your way up the screen, avoiding bats, and stand by one of the brown bars on either side of the monster, this will increase the height of the wall. You must make the trip six times before the monster is fully barricaded with every trip becoming more and more difficult. If you run out of time or lose all three of your lives the monster is released to wreak havoc across the countryside, a cutscene will play showing the monster slowly walking toward you until your entire TV screen is flashing green, then it’s back to the beginning to try again.
Overall Frankenstein’s Monster is a fun game with a fairly unique premise executed very well. This is by far Data Age’s best game; you can really see the blood sweat and tears that went into making this game great, it’s too bad not all of their games were treated as well as this one. Due to its overall rarity and high quality people see fit to charge quite a bit for this game, copies on Ebay range from 28-35 dollars not counting shipping, but I recommend you check Amazon as well since I managed to snag my copy there for $19.99 free shipping. If you can find it for 20 bucks then I’d say Frankenstein’s Monster is worth the cost.