Mayhem in Monsterland
for C64

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Mr Creosote:
Company: Apex
Year: 1993
Genre: Action
Theme: Cartoon & Comic / Misc. Fantasy
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 558
Review by Mr Creosote (2024-02-24)
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After their two Creature-Features, the Rowland brothers wanted to continue on the C64… though they lost their publisher. Apparently still seeing some remaining commercial potential, they decided to self-publish. Mayhem in Monsterland would turn out to be their last game.

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Though what a way out it was – both for Apex and the C64! While Nintendo and Sega were already well into the process of killing off the 16 bit home computers, here was a game which was modelled closely after the most popular titles of the then current game consoles. On an 8 bit machine more than ten years old by then. On a level of technical excellence which close to unheard of.

Mayhem, a cutesy triceratops, is on a mission to restore happiness and colour to his world. This requires collecting magic dust from slain enemies and taking it to the local magician. After, the now restored level can be revisited to collect stars before moving on to the next one.

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It is a clever twist. Consisting of five levels, the game nevertheless feels large. That is due to the size of the levels which allow for and require moving back and forth quite a bit, but also because the plot gives a good reason to re-use them all for a second round. First in the grey and sad version, then in the happy, colourful variant. Where then also some other things than just the palette has changed. Like when you suddenly find a part of the level under water.

The high-res sprite moves around as smoothly as it gets. There isn't even a hint of flickering, as previously still found in the Creatures games. Controls are perfectly responsive. What's more, Mayhem can run at a speed akin to Sonic. Even if limited to scrolling in one direction at a time, this makes the technical achievement even more impressive. Luckily, it is not just a technical marvel, but does feature some inventive level design as well. Such as when in the third, it does some interesting things with foreground and background.

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The levels showing that core gameplay is really much more similar to the Mario games of the time. The platforms, the semi-hidden entrances to bonus caves, the jumping on enemies… essentially, Mayhem is a Mario-like game with a Sonic gimmick which finally is rarely needed. Though still appreciated and indeed necessary for those insane players who really want to collect every last star.

Of course, compared to the team's previous game, this one is much more conventional in its nature. In today's world of highly stereotyped thinking, Mayhem certainly is the much more accessible game. Will younger generations see what this meant for the C64? I fear not. Though we will always remember…

Comments (3) [Post comment]

Something beginning with R:

Used to love this, but blimey it was difficult!

Posted on Mastodon

Mr Creosote:
Have you ever seen such colours on the C64? Mayhem in Monsterland was a brave attempt to bring a console style jump'n'run, modelled closely after Nintendo's and Sega's mascots, to the best-selling home computer of all time. While at the same time, paying homage to one of the iconic games of that system: Wizball.
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