If there was one thing I loved as much as video games when I was a kid, it was monsters. I was obsessed with Godzilla growing up. Any giant rubber suited monster movie was right up my alley. So combining the two — video games and monsters — was a grand slam for a kid like me. At least, in theory. Execution is entirely another matter. I remember being excited to play Ultraman: Towards The Future. After playing it, Towards The Garbage Bin seems like a more appropriate subtitle. Then came the SNES version of King of the Monsters. I loved the arcade version especially for its tag team bedlam mode. Not only was that gutted from the SNES port but they also scrapped two of the six monsters. 0 for 2 now. Would King of the Monsters 2 be the third strike, or would SNES owners finally get a decent monster game?
MY GREAT WHITE WHALE
My local arcades didn’t carry King of the Monsters 2. I was never able to play it, sadly.
I saw screenshots of it in magazines and it looked awesome.
The new monsters looked great, making me want to play it even more.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I searched high, I searched low. Nada. It wasn’t until a fateful Saturday afternoon back in June of 1994 that my best friend Nelson and I ran across the Super Famicom import version of King of the Monsters 2.
We couldn’t believe that standing before us were the import versions of Fighter’s History, King of the Monsters 2 and Muscle Bomber (Saturday Night Slam Masters). The North American versions were either weeks or even months away from release. Nelson grabbed Fighter’s History and so I had to make a choice between King of the Monsters 2 or Saturday Night Slam Masters. I loved Slam Masters but this was a clear no-brainer to me…
THE STORY GOES…
THE GOOD GUYS
The roster stands at just three. It’s a little disappointing, considering the original gave you double the choice. Hope you aren’t too attached to the likes of Poison Ghost, Beetlemania and Rocky…
THE BAD GUYS
Before you square off with King Famardy, you must first travel to six different parts of the world to romp and raid. At the end of each short level, there awaits a big and ugly monster for you to fight. Trust me, none of these guys will ever win a beauty contest! I like the cryptic touch of only being shown their silhouettes.
There are a couple bars to pay attention to. Your own, the boss bar and your power bar. When your power bar is fully charged, you can unleash a vicious special attack.
As seen here, each boss gets progressively tougher and tougher. Some of the bars get so long that they can be a little bit intimidating!
Charge your power bar by holding L. You cannot move or attack when charging, so you leave yourself wide open to enemy attack. With two players, it’s a lot easier to have your buddy entertain the boss while you charge, or vice versa. On your own though, you better pick your spots. As the old saying goes, charge wisely.
Just like the first game, grappling is still the main point of attack. Toggle back and forth like a mad man all while cursing and hollering like a raving mad lunatic. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun that way. Unlike the first game, however, here it seems the victor of a grapple isn’t random but actually awarded to the one who toggles faster. Imagine that — what a concept…
New is the ability to block. By simply pressing R, you can thwart the opposition’s blows. It’s a welcomed feature and adds some strategy to the fold, particularly in the 2 player game.
Formerly a (mad) scientist, he transformed into Astro Guy during an experiment gone wrong (or right…) when the Monsters first appeared in 1996. The ambitious scientist was looking to discover a way to make the human body immune to radiation. Well shit, look at him now. Surviving the ruckus of the original war, Astro Guy evolved into Atomic Guy. He’s now stronger and faster than ever. Master of lightning, fireballs and fashion!
Electrocute them like there’s no tomorrow!
Ahh, everyone’s favorite Godzilla knockoff, or at least, mine anyhow. Super Geon doesn’t move as fast as the others but his immense strength more than makes up for his lack of speed. Equipped with sharp spikes, fangs, claws and one very nasty disposition, Super Geon is ready to tear down any obstacle in his way. Looking more like FIN FANG FOOM here than Godzilla, this dragon beast makes the earth quiver with one of his mighty Earthquake leaps.
Woo underwent the most drastic transformation of all the monsters. An overgrown gorilla in the first game, he is now a lean, mean, fighting machine. No one knows for sure how he came to be in this state, but rumor has it he was assembled by the government as a top secret weapon. Some say the original Woo is dead and that this is something new altogether. Whatever IT is, the very hope of mankind may very well lie in Cyber Woo’s cold, steel hands!
Launching missiles into their ugly faces? Sign me up!
ALIEN BOSSES AND STAGES
The entry soldier of King Famardy’s line of defense. Huge Frogger looks like a nasty bugger that might give you fits, but he’s a bit of a wimp. Don’t overlook him though. He can still be slightly formidable thanks to his abilities. These include teleportation, laser beams and razor sharp elbow horns. He’s also got humongous feet and he’s more than happy to use them to smash your face in! He’s far too cocky for his own good, though. Occasionally, he’ll stop to just laugh at you. Be sure to make him regret that foolish decision! After you see his face, you’ll understand why he hides it behind that huge mask.
Apparently, Huge Frogger isn’t a huge fan of Brett Favre. He appears for a brief skirmish. However, the wimp will eventually teleport and meet you again at level’s end.
Great original city names so far, eh? This guy is quite a piece of work. His face is a disgusting tissue-y mass that has a parasitic alien brain sucking on it. He’s gifted with freaky strength. He’ll lift you high and pound you into the ground several times over before you can scream GODZELLER. Thanks to his ability of being able to stretch his limbs, he can strike from almost any distance. Once defeated, his blob-like brain will detach from the body for a desperate final battle!
Dhalsim but with the strength of Zangief… on steroids!
Bogun. Freaking Bogun from Ultraman. That’s the first thought I had when I saw Clawhead. What a grotesque creature. Hands for feet, creepy eyes tucked inside the mouth (which is bizarrely placed at the bottom), a pair of killer horns and two faces that could give Freddy Krueger nightmres! This two-headed menace guards the Grand Canyon with malice. What exactly is lurking in that hideous mouth beyond those eyes? Pray that you won’t have to find out…
So this stage is called Grand Canyon, but Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota. Last I checked, I’m pretty sure the Grand Canyon is still located in Arizona. WTF were y’all doing, SNK? Or rather, what were y’all smoking…
Let’s see… American City, French City… yup, by stage four they clearly said “f*ck it.” That’s why we now come to… DESERT. Remember the messenger from earlier? The brain that spewed all those threatening messages but then always scurried away? It now takes a stand. And to help it take that stand, it employs the hideous body of one, Beetle Master. Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would like a word with you, good sir. Oh, and whatever you do, DON’T say his name at night three times. Or else he’ll appear out of thin air to eat you whole. You’ve been warned…
[Uh, I don’t think that’s how it goes -Ed.]
While none of the monsters will be winning any sort of beauty contest, Sack Eyes truly takes the cake. He is one repulsive bastard. He’s also tougher than a two dollar steak. If his looks don’t kill you, his deadly repertoire will. His squalid face is the stuff nightmares are made of, and that throbbing red blob-like substance around his neck is every bit as dangerous as it is unnerving…
Meet King Famardy’s right-hand man, er, monster. Lavicus is tougher than nails. As the last line of defense, anything less would be disappointing. He’s not so bad with two players. But by your lonesome? Good luck. Just how tough is he? There is NO stage. You just fight him right away. The developers must have thought, “Why delay the inevitable ass-whupping? Let’s just feed them to Lavicus.” Best to get it over with, then.
Lavicus’ Lava Zone is rather lovely. It’s simple but therein lies its wicked effectiveness. The lava flows as the monsters duke it out. Jump up on the hill if that’s your thing, or settle the score right there in the bright scorching molten lava.
Congrats! You’ve made it to the last stage. Fatter than Santa but not nearly as jolly, King Famardy is a sight for sore eyes. He moves a lot faster than one might anticipate, and he comes equipped with a host of tools from which he can use to decimate you. Kill him and the world is yours to rule as King of the Monsters.
Thankfully, in-between each victory you’re given a supply of power-ups and such. Little L’s are for small health gain, large L’s for moderate health gain, P’s for leveling up, and if you’re lucky enough, the odd 1-UP will crop up here and there. However, one small catch. There’s only enough time to grab two, so pick the best ones. With two players, each player nabs two.
If you thought his front side was fugly, you ought to see his back side! I love the intricate details here, especially the scales. Check out the feet protruding from Famardy’s back. That should warrant a visit to his local alien doctor, one would think.
THE BAD ENDING
GAME OVER, MAN!
THE GOOD ENDING
First, if you’re browsing this on a desktop or laptop, click on the music video and follow along with the text-embedded pictures below.
It’s always times like these
When I think of you
And I wonder
If you ever
Think of meeee
Cause everything’s so wrong
And I don’t belon –
Um, ahem. The real ending, then…
TWO TIMES THE FUN
While I still miss the tornado tag team feature from the first game, I have to say it’s still a blast to team up with a buddy to take out the computer alien bosses one at a time. It’s a 2-on-1 handicap match essentially, and I cannot think of another SNES game that operates like such. Even beat ‘em up bosses tend to throw lesser henchmen at you, while this is strictly a 2-on-1 affair. It really makes playing King of the Monsters 2 unlike any other SNES experience.
Playing with a buddy also lends a certain strategy you don’t get when playing alone. It’s a short game but it’s pretty damn fun with two while it lasts. My favorite strategy is charging my power bar and then having my friend block while I attack from behind with my charged up special move. All is fair in love and war! Too bad though there isn’t an option for you and a friend to take on two alien bosses at a time. The three options are: 1P vs. CPU, 1P and 2P vs. CPU or the ho-hum 1P vs. 2P mode, where it’s just you and a buddy trying to win 3 out of 5. Unfortunately, you can’t control the alien boss monsters in this mode, which was a wasted opportunity.
The Sega Genesis version of King of the Monsters 2 is radically different from the SNES version. While the SNES port mimics the arcade game, the Genesis version opted to go the Street Fighter II route. It is strictly a 1-on-1 fighting game, but instead of a single plane, players are allowed to use the entire screen. It’s actually what I envisioned my own childhood game, MONSTER FIGHTER, to be back in the early ’90s. A blend of King of the Monsters meets Street Fighter II. The Genesis version received pretty solid reviews. Some people liked the fact that it cut out the side-scrolling beat ‘em up sections and got straight down to the action. If nothing else, it’s an interesting footnote in the history of the King of the Monsters series.
CAN I GET SOME CHEESE, PLEASE?
GET YOUR KEY CHAINS!
I remember doing this and getting my free King of the Monsters 2 key chain back in the day. Too bad I lost it. But yeah, these freebie give away prizes Takara used to do back in the ’90s was awesome.
WHO IS THE ROBOT MONKEY?
Throughout the annals of history, there have been some great philosophical questions posed.
“What came first: the chicken or the egg?”
“To BE, or NOT to be?”
“How much wood can a woodchuck chuck…
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
And then, on July 7, 2008, a five year old student of mine asked me one of life’s greatest questions:
But let me back up the DeLorean a bit here. In college I studied to become a teacher, with a minor in Theatre Arts. Wherever I could, I implemented drama into my presentations and public speeches. I was in a Humanities class in 2006 and after one of my dramatic presentations this is what my professor wrote on our class’ online message board:
In the summer of 2008, I found myself teaching a public speaking camp to a group of five and six years old. On my first day of class, I began by introducing myself and asking my students to share some basic info about themselves. I’ll never forget these two twin boys. They were five and when their turn to speak came, they said they loved video games.
“And what is your favorite game?” I asked.
“KING OF THE MONSTERS!”
I almost fell over. The next day was Show and Tell. Guess what the twin boys brought to the party?
During break time, they were telling me all about their favorite monsters from the game. One of the twins was describing Cyber Woo to me and at one point he stopped. “Mr. Steve, who is the robot monkey?” I couldn’t help but laugh as I answered his thought-provoking question. Damn, it’s hard to believe it’s almost been 10 years since I taught that summer camp. Jeez, those twins are now 14 and in high school! I feel old now.
Later that day, I asked one of the twins who his least favorite monster was. He said Atomic Guy because “he’s weak and this little kick is all he can do.” Then the kid actually replicated the kick to a tee right in front of me, TWICE. It scared me how flawless his form was! It just goes to show you how genuine and real their passion for King of the Monsters 2 was. They restored my faith in humanity!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
The SNES translation didn’t win any awards or anything, but critics agreed it was a great port considering the hardware limitations of the 16-bit SNES compared to the mega arcade power that was the Neo Geo. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 7 and 8. Super Play rated it 74%. It’s definitely one of the better arcade to SNES translations ever made.
That Saturday June afternoon of 1994 saw a dream of mine realized when I finally got to play King of the Monsters 2. I’m not quite sure if I liked it more than the first one but I know I had a blast playing it with my best friend, Nelson. And that’s what video games are all about. King of the Monsters 2 is filled to the brim with bright and bold colors. At times it is a visual feast. One look at the game and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’s a Super Nintendo game circa 1994. The monsters animate well, look terrifying and the special moves are a treat to behold. Atomic Guy’s Megaton Thunder, for instance, really lights up the screen. The giant monsters are intricately detailed as are the stages you wreck. It is this believability of the behemoths that makes the game work and also makes it fun.
Of course, there’s more to a good game than great visuals. As for the sound, King of the Monsters 2 has some solid rocking tunes which really help add to the whole B-Movie feel of the game. Sound effects are a bit hit and miss, though. Some are out of place or oddly missing altogether. Where’s the sound when my guy is crushing small buildings? What’s up with the fact that jumping on water sounds the same as when I’m jumping on the ground? So with the good comes some bad.
As for the gameplay, it’s a lot more sound than the original. This time, it really feels like the person who toggles the D-Pad faster actually wins. I do miss the tornado tag team mode, but I welcome the ability to block as well as the mode where you and a buddy tackle the alien bosses one at a time. Having only three monsters to select from is kind of lame, but on the bright side, unlike the original, their grapple moves are exclusively theirs. Only Atomic Guy can perform a front suplex while Super Geon makes good use of the spikes on his back like only he can. He heaves his foe five hundred feet in the air before the poor victim comes crashing down on a bed of nails. Ouch! Or Atomic Guy shocking the shit out of fools.
I also like how you have to march through each unique stage before fighting the boss. These little beat ‘em up sections range from cities to Grand Canyons to even an underwater sea bed where a mutated aqua slug resides. The stages are kept short too because the main focus here of course is on the seven boss monsters. The minor enemies you deal with as you romp through each level present minimal threat, but it’s still a blast to strike down foul land sharks, wretched one-eyed freekazoids and what have you. And of course, along the way there are various power-ups as well as bad ones, like the BOMB icon (to keep you on your toes), the Power Down icon, and the Roulette where you’re taking a chance with whatever icon the game decides to give you.
No one will ever mistake King of the Monsters 2 as one of Super Nintendo’s very best, but it serves its niche well as a creature feature. SNES fans got the shaft with the original but here is a bit of redemption. Yeah, the game is incredibly short, and there’s only a scant three monsters from which to use, but man is it fun playing with a like-minded friend. It’s hard to believe it’s now been 23 summers since that fateful June day that Nelson and I shitted our pants seeing the import version of this game sitting high and pretty on the top shelf over at Game Hunter. The exuberance surging through our ten year old bodies and the sheer thrill of finding this unexpected gem before us was the perfect way to kick off one of the last great summers of my childhood. I guess I’ll always remember King of the Monsters 2 most of all for that innocent summer day in June of 1994. I’m also happy to say that it’s a pretty solid little 2 player romp. If you love your wanton monster mayhem, then don’t miss out on King of the Monsters 2.