Fun with Flash! CptCluster Plays “Monkey Quest”
I’d never before consulted a 4 year old for video game picks, but in our high-tech age this is something I should probably get used to.
This has been the Summer of Suck for me, in terms of video games. I’m subletting an apartment that doesn’t have a TV, so my PS3 and Wii have been put away in storage in a duffel bag in my closet. I guess the positive from all this is it has forced me to look beyond consoles for my video gaming kicks.
I was hanging out recently at the house of my friend, whose entire young family are huge PC gamers. Keen on finding new games for myself to play, I asked her very sharp 4 year old daughter what she’s been playing.
“Monkey Quest!!!” she shouted enthusiastically.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Well,” her mom- my friend- replied, “It’s a multiplayer online game-“
“WITH MONKEYS!!!!!” the daughter interjected gleefully, cutting off her mom.
That was, pretty much, all I needed to know about this game. I was sold. I was a huge fan of Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series growing up, and I had always enjoyed playing with a primate as my avatar. I decided that, especially with my friend’s daughter’s ringing endorsement, I’d have to check out this game for myself.
It turns out that Monkey Quest is made by Nickelodeon, the kid programming conglomerate that I’d rather remember for making truly fun stuff like Salute Your Shorts and Nickelodeon GUTS (“In my day”…I know, I’m starting to sound like an old grump) and not for their lame-brained iCarly shows of today.
The game is about a monkey king who, ages ago…bla bla bla bla not interesting. The point is, you’re a monkey (you get to give him or her custom hair, a custom name and more), you run around grabbing bananas that are suspended in the air, and you travel through the jungle going on exciting quests, as suggested by the title.
Sound familiar?? Basically, Monkey Quest is a giant online rip-off of Donkey Kong Country. I am surprised that the Donkey Kong property owners haven’t sued Nickelodeon, because this game apes (sorry…) seemingly every single Donkey Kong gameplay detail, from the swinging vines to the barrels that you smash (!!).
But that’s their problem, not mine. To me, I enjoyed having another Donkey Kong title in the canon, even if it’s a bootleg one. This is like the Never Say Never Again of Donkey Kong games, complete with its Sean Connery.
I say I especially enjoyed Monkey Quest as someone who felt a little disappointed by the new Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii. That new game felt graphically flat, and lacking imagination. I can’t say Monkey Quest is much better than that title, but it does benefit from me having had much lower expectations for it.
Call me bananas (sorry…), but Monkey Quest’s Flash-based graphics seemed just as good as that of the Wii. I am increasingly stunned by what Flash can do, gaming-wise. Perhaps it does too much- I have a reasonably zippy computer, yet I found the game get choppy at times as my computer started to freeze from it.
If you’ve played Donkey Kong Country in any iteration, you’ve played Monkey Quest, so there’s no need to go into detail about what the game is like. What Monkey Quest adds to this winning formula, however, are some kid-friendly community and RPG elements. To beat some levels, the game requires you to collaborate with other online players. You also have the opportunity to “build” your character, somewhat World of Warcraft style, with special powers, weapons and costumes. You can even “craft” your own weapons and costumes. You trade bananas you collect on your quests and spend them in the game’s store for the items and upgrades you want.
The set-up is eerily similar to that of any e-commerce site like Amazon- you put your desired items in a “shopping cart” before you “check out.” Why, it’s never too early to teach our kids about Capitalism!!
The game is free, but you are steered to pay for a membership, which provides many perks.
I liked this game and I know that kids will really dig it. Monkey Quest didn’t reinvent the wheel, but- barring any lawsuits for being a copycat- it doesn’t have to. It was a very smart move of Nickelodeon to make an MMO for kids. Monkey Quest is like “training wheels” for World of Warcraft that proves to be plenty of fun at its own. kid-sized level.