Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nintendo Monkey Magic (モンキーマジック, 1979)

In previous posts, we looked at early Nintendo arcade games like EVR Race (1975), Computer Othello (1978), Space Launcher (1979) and Sheriff (1979).

Over the next couple of days, we will take a look at some more of Nintendo's arcade releases from the year 1979.

Around this time Nintendo moved away from creating straight copies of other companies' successful computer arcade games (like Block Fever and Space Fever) and started developing original ideas within established formats.

Nintendo Monkey Magic (1979)

Nintendo's Monkey Magic is a game within the block breaking mould set by Atari's Breakout in 1976. Although clearly based on it, enough new ideas are added to call it a game in its own right, not a clone.

Monkey Magic (モンキーマジック) was released in August of 1979, and deserves praise for the name alone. A happy monkey with a red hat is depicted on the game cabinet. He will stop smiling soon, once we start hitting him with balls.

The game's playing field consists of the monkey's head, made from colorful blocks. The aim is to hit these blocks with a ball using a paddle. But there is more to it, as we will see.

The game is controlled the standard way; with a serve button and paddle controller.

Magic Monkey has a wide variety of special score elements to make it fresh and interesting.

To name a few:
  • Hit one of the monkey's eyes and it would close, scoring extra points. After some time the eye would open again. If you managed to get both closed at he same time, you would score extra points
  • Move the arrows labbled '1', '2' and '3' up, to open the monkey's mouth. Now you can start hitting his teeth (ouch)
  • Touch his nose and the ball speeds up
  • Avoid the little monkey heads dropping down, as they will bounce the ball back before it can hit any of the blocks

Monkey Magic does not have multiple screens or stages. Blocks that have disappeared reappear again after some time. It is all about racking up the highest score. The game becomes gradually more difficult, as the ball speeds up and the number of small monkey heads dropping down increases.

Three high scores are kept by the game; the top score and the two scores underneath this.

Monkey Magic leaflet, back and front

Like Nintendo's 1979 home console Block Kuzushi, Monkey Magic offers new variations on the Breakout theme. Comparred to Block Kuzushi, released around the same time, Monkey Magic is more original, with lots of different scoring options that give it a sort of pinball feel.

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