I adore the old, black and white monster movies. Films like Frankenstein, King Kong, and even clunkers like Gamera are some of my favorite cinematic experiences. Given the choice between Citizen Kane and Creature from the Black Lagoon, I’ll pick the creature feature every time.
I’ve wasted countless hours playing the 1986 Bally/Midway classic arcade game Rampage, where players controlled George (the giant ape), Lizzie (a Godzilla knock off), or Ralph (the werewolf) and used them to destroy cities. The game was a popular success, spawning a series of sequels, and eventually a feature film which was (very loosely) based on the arcade, but it wasn’t the only monster mayhem game of its era. A full blown monster invasion was sweeping across the gaming world.
In 1981, Epyx released Crush, Crumble, and Chomp! for the TRS-80, Apple II, and Atari 8-bit (releasing ports for the C64 and VIC-20 later). The game allowed players to choose between a variety of monsters with names like Goshzilla, the Kraken, the Glob, and Mantra. Players could also grow a monster, but the end goal was to destroy cities around the globe. Before you attacked the cities, you selected one of five game objectives: Balanced (gaining points for everything), Killer Monster (gaining higher points for killing humans), Combat Machine (which gave points for killing combatants, but not civilians), Destruction (which focused on destroying structures), and Survival.
A year before Rampage, Electronic Arts released Mail Order Monsters for the Commodore 64. The game allowed players to create custom monsters and then battle each other or, in single player mode, the computer. Battles took place across the globe and terrain affected your fighting.
The following year, Epyx released The Movie Monster Game for the Commodore 64 and Apple II computers. It was sort of an unofficial of sequel to Crush, Crumble, and Chomp! The game fully embraced the camp of the old creature features. It contained movie style advertisements for treats like “Gummi Glogs” and trailers for other Epyx titles. Players could choose one of six monsters: Godzilla, Spectra, The Glog, Tarantus, Mr. Meringue, and Mechatron. Like Crush, Crumble, and Chomp!, players could choose between game modes: Berserk (based on destruction), Escape (getting your monster safely out of the city), Search (where your monster must find its missing children), Destroy Landmark (self explanatory, but you had to destroy world famous landmarks), and Lunch (where the goal was to eat as many humans and vehicles as possible).
The games weren’t masterpieces of video game craft, and they didn’t revolutionize the industry. They were just fun. They were funny and exciting, and a good way to waste an afternoon or Saturday morning. What more can you ask for in a game?