The IP Shack #3: War Of The Monsters

We’d like to introduce you to the IP Shack. The IP Shack is all about giving our gamers (staff and readers) a space to rant about the games that aren’t currently spamming the industry with videos, screenshots, teaser trailers, previews, or any related pre-purchase buzz. The idea being that we’ll take a discussion point from a game old or new, whimsical or technical and share some thought on it. We kind of see it as a revisit to existing game IPs (hence name…the shack part is because we like candles) to look at them from quirky angles.

Like I said it’s still barely out of a ‘beta’ phase so expect some experimentation over the coming weeks. We could be waffling about the online days of Splinter Cell back on the PS2, and about all the glitches and scary voices. Or speculation on Raiden’s sexual preferences, why Nolan North seems to pop up in every bloody game, the best puzzle on Portal, whatever. But all you really need to ‘get’ is that this is a little bit less serious and restricted than articles normal dictate, so relax, don’t feel guilty about liking Bayonetta, and come inside the Shack. This week we discuss War Of The Monsters.

What seems like more than an entire generation of gaming ago the lunatic geniuses behind Twisted Metal brought us the fabled monster brawler ‘War Of The Monsters’. The game was a lesser known classic that offered up some horrendously enjoyable destruction deathmatches between 60ft monsters. Hopefully some of you will remember but just to recap for those who can’t, it came out in 2003 on the PS2 (remember that machine?) and it was awesome.

Each match (only one mode) consisted of four huge monsters from 1950-ish science fiction (stuff like giant monkeys, Japanese ninja mechs, and electric blobs) punching it out in one of several cities that served as the arenas. The real hooks in the game though were the crude methods in which you could beat up the other combatants (either AI or local), with every building being fully destructible under your giant fists. Radio towers, power generators, cars, lorries, bits of debris, and pillars were all available to pick up and throw at foes or box them round the ears with. You could literally LEVEL the entire city you were playing in by simply chucking the other monsters into each building. Watching stuff shatter and crumble was unbelievably satisfying.

I remember getting excited when I unlocked the robotic costume for the Godzilla character homage ‘Togera’ and chasing round that stupid Mantis with a boulder above my head . Very few games have ever offered such accessible and easy arcade playability. The story was almost non-existent thin, with some vague scientific-experiment-gone-wrong excuse, but you wouldn’t particularly notice or mind this because you’d be cackling at the fact you could impale an octopus to a building block with a steel girder.

The combat was simple and pleasing in the same way that Arkham Asylum is, in an odd way. Heavy, light, block, counter attacks. Pickup, bash, throw, climb – each character having two special attacks that could be charged up on top of these. The biggest deal was the free roaming set up though; most fighting games of that generation were side scrolling Tekken-esque ass whoopers that had very limited environment interaction. War Of The Monsters was way ahead of its time on the multiplayer front and the basic setup was fantastically rewarding. The three dimensional playground opened up so many possibilities.

When I look back at screenshots and videos it looks ridiculous (like so many now) despite still appearing relatively smooth, and the maps seem smaller than I remember. The memories however are colourful, noisy, and ooooh so brutal.

Incognito Entertainment are known as Eat Sleep Play and Lightbox now, the WOTM team disbanded and changed name in 2010, and word on a sequel or remake is non-existent –  guess I’ll have to make do with the memories then. Anyone else secretly wishing for a WOTM return?