North American cover art
|Designer(s)||Jon Ritman, Bernie Drummond|
Monster Max is an isometric adventure video game developed by Rare and published by Titus for the Game Boy handheld game console. It was released in December 1994 in Europe and January 1995 in the United States. Monster Max was designed by Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond and is very similar in both graphics and gameplay to Ritman and Drummond's 1987 title Head over Heels. The game sold poorly but received very positive reviews from critics.
Monster Max is a single-player adventure game that is presented from an isometric perspective, similar to Ultimate's Knight Lore. Players control the player character and guitarist Max as he attempts to defeat evil villain Krond, who threatens to ban all music from the world. The game is split into 29 levels in which the player must complete a number of challenges in order to progress, such as solving puzzles, jumping over obstacles, gathering objects, and defeating opponents. The levels also contain several helpful items, such as bombs, which can be used both as weapons and to open blocked or hidden rooms, a bag, to pick up or drop items in, and a force shield, which protects the player from enemies, among others. Upon completing a level, the player is rewarded with a certain amount of credits, which grant players access to new areas of the game's overworld, called the Mega Hero Academy.
Development and release
Monster Max was developed by UK-based video game company Rare and published by Titus. It was designed and programmed by Jon Ritman, while the art design was done by Bernie Drummond. Both Ritman and Drummond previously developed the critically acclaimed games Batman and Head over Heels for the ZX Spectrum, which share many gameplay features. According to Ritman, "Max was twice the size of Head over Heels with more than 600 locations and each location could be much bigger than any on the previous isometrics." The music of the game was composed by David Wise, whose influences at the time were mostly Rock and Dance music from the 1980s.
While other prior Game Boy titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening use a battery save inside their cartridges, Monster Max employs a password system to prevent the loss of progress. This choice was made because the additional cost of integrating a battery save was either prohibitive or expensive for the publisher. Ritman also revealed that he passed on the earlier option of having the game published by Nintendo, which would have required replacing the main protagonist with an unspecified character from the Mario universe. Monster Max was originally intended to be released in December 1994 in Europe and in January 1995 in the United States, but Titus was very slow in publishing and selling it. As a result, the release was moved back to December 1995 and sales for the game were poor. Despite this, it received extremely positive reviews. UK's GB Action magazine gave Monster Max a rating of 94%, while Super Gamer magazine awarded it a rating of 96% under the tagline, "simply the best Game Boy title ever".
- Monster Max instruction manual. Titus. December 1995.
- Jon Ritman. "Monster Max". Jon Ritman's site. Archived from the original on 2012-02-09. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- Tony Brazil (2010-04-07). "Monster Max, sabor Spectrum" (in Spanish). El Mundo del Spectrum. Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- Chris Greening. "Interview with David Wise (December 2010)". Square Enix Music Online. Archived from the original on 2012-01-15. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- "The Making of Monster Max". Retro Gamer (131): 50–53. 2014.
- Information about Monster Max at Jon Ritman's site.