Thanks to HAMSTER’s ACA Neo Geo series there are plenty of options for Switch owners looking to engage in some virtual fisticuffs. SNK’s King Of The Monsters offers something a bit different to the other choices however, as it is essentially a wrestling game, albeit a wrestling game with giant monsters duking it out and where the squared circle is a few blocks of various Japanese cities.
Upon starting a game you pick from one of six monsters. There’s a giant ape and a huge lizard, the inspiration of which is obvious and there’s a giant dressed as mis-coloured Flash. Making up the numbers there’s a big bug and rock and mud creatures. Move-wise the characters are largely the same with a button to punch and one to kick (or swing a tail) with a run button adding to your options.
Get into a grapple and there are a number of moves that can be performed including body slams and piledrivers. For the most part the game is a button-masher, but there’s still quite a range of moves performed as a result of that mashing. You can drop an elbow on a grounded opponent and you can even send them running off-screen to bounce off unseen ropes for you to smack them with a kick when they return. The only real difference between the characters is their special attack. Hold down both attack buttons and you’ll charge up a move, before unleashing the attack (which includes projectiles, fire-breath and extending arms). Once your opponent’s energy is sufficiently depleted you can pin them for a three count in true 'rasslin fashion.
Fights have a three minute time limit that rarely proves an issue, although should the timer run down, you will lose so finishing the fight is key. Electrified barriers are to be avoided and as you play, vehicles can be seen moving along the streets and the likes of aircraft and tanks will shoot at you; a mostly insignificant threat they can interrupt you when charging a special attack. Vehicles can be grabbed and thrown at the other monster and buildings will collapse as you fight, either from the monsters falling into them or deliberately smashing them up for a points bonus, which makes the game feel a bit like Bally Midway’s Rampage.
There’s not a lot of strategy in the game, but it can entertain in two-player versus mode, providing a few fun fights before the sameyness of the bouts lessens the enjoyment. The main arcade mode sees you battle the other five creatures and then your clone, before making you fight everyone again. Fights get tougher as you progress and your health carries over between fights (with a small top up following victory). To help you out, power-ups can be collected to increase a meter that eventually results in a power boost, but the biggest help is unlimited continues. Should you continue, you continue from where you were, with your opponent’s health at the same level it was when they were victorious.
Continues can be adjusted/turned off from the options menu to increase the challenge or you could play the one credit Hi Score mode, which has the bonus of a online leaderboard for you to try and move up. The five minute caravan mode also has an online leaderboard and it too works well as you focus on getting as many points as possible during the time limit, whereas usually you just fight. The main arcade mode can also be tackled in two-player with you and your friend engaging in two-on-two fights (not tag-teams sadly) and must defeat both opposing monsters to progress. But whether you are playing this solo or with a friend, after the first go round of fights, the repetitiveness makes for quite a dull experience.
King Of The Monsters is simple to play, but with a range of moves available as you fight your way through the different creatures. Outside of aesthetics the monsters largely play the same however, making the fights quite repetitive. The game works well with the five minute caravan mode as you attempt to smash up as much of the city as possible, whilst not losing the fight to increase your score. There's no long term appeal with the game, but turn off continues and boot it up for a few two-player fights every now and then and it can still provide some entertainment.