Remember sci-fi classics from the ’60s and ’70s, such as Time of the Apes or The Legend of Dinosaurs, the same movies proudly featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000? They were featured because they were so bad they were hilarious, they had incredibly outdated and awful stop motion, and plots as ridiculous as the acting. The Deadly Tower of Monsters aimed to capture just that, and it executed it flawlessly. Like those movies, this is just as bad, and you won’t be able to turn away like a proverbial train wreck.
No Sci-Fi Trope or Cliche is Safe
The Deadly Tower of Monsters is set up as one of these horribly awful sci-fi movies from the ’60s and ’70s, complete with embarrassing and cheap special effects, that’s been primed for a DVD release. As is common with DVD releases of movies, whether they’re old or new, the director of the original flick provides audio commentary to explain the set-up, some history behind the special effects and props, and why he went a particular direction with this or that.
The movie stars Dick Starspeed, Scarlet, and [introducing] the Robot as they try to free the apes on the planet Gravoria from Scarlet’s father, an oppressive emperor who has enslaved the apes for their gold. It’s not that the apes mine gold, or that the planet is filled with gold reservoirs, but when the apes die, they turn into gold. The emperor wants to gather that gold, so he works them to death and then gathers the dead body gold. Since Scarlet’s teleporter has been conveniently disabled due to betraying her father, the only way the trio can confront the emperor is by climbing a massive tower and clearing out all the monsters along the way.
It’s almost like the purpose of the game/film is in the title.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters Review - So Bad It's Good
Players can switch between characters by entering glass domes littered throughout the floors, as the director explains, none of the actors could film at the same time. To combat the hordes of monsters, the starring characters have a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, and a set of special powers. Each character has his/her/its own special abilities that will be needed to solve various puzzles to properly explore each floor. As such, the game takes on a bit of Metroidvania, allowing players to go back to lower floors and solve puzzles they originally could not thanks to new abilities. It’s not just sci-fi film cliches that are exploited here; the rule of three is incredibly alive and well throughout.
The monsters are scraped from virtually every stereotypical sci-fi movie from this era. The dinosaurs were created from stop motion models, and they really do look like it. Whenever an actor is grabbed by a monster, that actor instantly becomes a completely unrealistic-looking puppet. There are mutant apes, nuclear ants, a King Kong-like boss, a giant robot chameleon, hordes of robots that look like they were constructed out of cardboard boxes, humanoid flies, invisible men, and monsters made out of sparks. This game could be on Mystery Science Theater 3000 with all of the tropes and cliches it uses. Just wait until you reach all of the lovely stereotypes about women and their roles in sci-fi. It’s jaw-droppingly amazing. I laughed and immediately felt terrible for laughing. In my defense, it was funny because it was true for that time.
The acting is also stiff and overdone, just like it would sound from such a film. The actors’ delivery is almost as hilarious as the DVD audio commentary.
Best DVD Commentary Ever
The director’s commentary is undeniably the best part of the entire game, as it will keep you laughing all throughout. Yes, he even comments when the player dies, because obviously, that didn’t make it to the big screen.
The director points out every little flaw and does his best to fill every potential plot hole. If it wasn’t for the commentary, I would have missed several little tidbits, such as the horrific puppetry for hero Dick Starspeed when the Mega-Gorilla grabs him and shakes him around. He even points out the strings attached to the flying monsters, which he didn’t have to do, as they are rather obvious.
He also delves into his reasons behind certain decisions he made, including why he implemented invisible men, why Dick has the ability to use landmines and Scarlet doesn’t (because women would NEVER use explosives; no seriously, that’s what he says), where the gold disappears to when the actors run over it, and why actors for the monsters are incredibly brutal in attacking the heroes. It’s all funny, and at the very least, a comment would make me snort. It’s especially entertaining when he argues with the producer for the DVD release.
If all DVD commentary was this entertaining, I’d never watch the movies I own without it.
Feast or Famine
The game’s biggest problem is that it’s either all or nothing. It’s either too easy or brutally difficult. I’d play for an hour simply breezing through various floors, and then I’d come across one room with swarms of difficult enemies, forcing me to replay it over and over and over until I mastered the pattern. Then I’d go for another several minutes easily shooting masses of enemies with the frog gun (that’s a real thing).
The checkpoints suffered from a similar plight. They were either as frequent as Starbucks locations in New York or as sparse as watering holes in the Sahara.
Even the bosses had similar problems. One boss would have an easy pattern to figure out, dodge, and destroy, and the next boss would make me pray I’d execute that dodge roll just right to survive long enough to get through the third phase.
Fans of cult sci-fi films and/or Mystery Science Theater 3000 will get quite the kick out of The Deadly Tower of Monsters. You can’t help but smile as you melee and shoot your way to the top of the emperor’s tower, experience the ridiculous cut scenes, and literally fast forward and rewind the game as you would a VHS tape. Just like the movies it tries to emulate, the game is so bad with its special effects, dialogue, and set-pieces that’s it’s rather good.
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