Monster Lair (TG16)

Monster Lair Box Art

Monster Lair

System: TG-16 CD

Release Date: December 1989

Developer: NEC/Westone

Publisher: NEC

Genre: Platformer

Monster Lair is a port of the Wonder Boy III arcade cabinet. This is our first game on the TurboGrafx-CD add-on. The first thing that jumps out are the number of colors on screen and the quality of the music. It’s a good looking and sounding game. Can the rest hold up? We’ll see!

The brave young Adam finds a legendary sword and armor and is sent on a mission to rid the land of monsters. Either alone or together with his girlfriend Laura, there are fourteen levels to get through. Gameplay is reminiscent of the original Wonder Boy, but different. The screen scrolls constantly from left to right. Button I jumps and Button II attacks with the current weapon.

The default weapon is a bullet that shoots forward with no frills. There are also several Power Boost weapons that last for 10 seconds. The Shurikens fly around you as quickly as you can tap the button and they hit hard. The Wide Rings are your spread shot with all the benefits they confer. The Beam shoots constantly and through enemies. The Missile flies as long as you hold the shoot button and explodes when it contacts an enemy or you let go. The Fireball shoots in front and behind you. The Big Fire is the rarest weapon and is quite the screen clearer.

Like in the original, your health counts down as time goes by. You gain health back by collecting fruit that appears on the levels and by collecting the weapon powerups. It’s easy to keep your health up in the first portion of each level, as fruit is prevalent. After reaching the giant skull and moving into the second part of the level, however, you need to switch weapons a lot to keep your health up.

The second half of each level introduces a more shoot ‘em up style of gameplay. You have to kill as many enemies as you can in order to find the best weapons to fight the level’s boss. Any weapon you take into the boss battle isn’t time constrained. I found the missile to be a great weapon, but the Big Fire was certainly a killer if you could get it at the end. I had to enter the unlimited continues password in order to beat the game, you will too.

Graphics: 3.0

The game is lovely with the amount of colors and nice animations.

Sound: 3.5

The compositions aren’t my favorite, but mechanically, they are beautiful.

Gameplay: 2.0

Everything plays adequately, even if it isn’t great.

Difficulty: 1.5

You’re going to need unlimited continues to get through this one, it’s hard!

Fun Factor: 2.0

I enjoyed myself, but wouldn’t be able to get through it legitimately.

Overall Grade: 2.4

Monster Lair earns a C+. It’s beautiful and sounds great, but plays just average. You should play it, but I don’t expect you to love it.

Monster Lair Video Review on YouTube