Monster Island Capsule Review by Papyrus on 09/10/02
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
Did you notice my lip movement never matched what I was writing?
Product: Monster Island
Author: Bruce Harlick and Patrick Sweeney
Company/Publisher: Firefly Games
Line: Action! Packed
Page count: 32
Year published: 2002
SKU: 9 78190 305376
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Papyrus on 09/10/02
Genre tags: Science Fiction Modern day
I can't stay long, I'm off to the local $1 store to get a package of dinosaurs, animals and maybe robots if I'm lucky. You see I need miniatures for this game I'm about to review and the fact they're so cheap only makes them more appropriate for the "man in a rubber suit, giant monster" genre. Monster Island is a blast, older gamers will relive their childhood in the land of after school monster movies, and new gamers can enjoy their own generation's giant megazoid vs. monster shows.
The book is staple bound in a glossy hard cardboard cover. The full cover color art shows a Godzilla-like monster attacking a giant squid. Inside the generous gray scale art show many original but familiar scenes from kaiju (Japanese for monster) movies. Quotes from various US and Japanese classics litter the text in little ragged edge boxes, adding color to the rules as well as increasing the nostalgia factor. A full color insert sports 15 "cardboard hero" type monster counters, again unique yet familiar icons of the genre.
The authors went out of their way to fill 32 pages, actually 31, the last page is an advertisement for "Escape from Monster Island" a follow-up product. The genre is explained, as well as a paragraph each on Firefly Games, and each of the authors. By page 4 we're into the monster creation. If you're a fan of the genre this is all light but unnecessary reading. It is enough though that even someone who has never seen King Kong vs. Godzilla will get the idea and be able to play their own Attack of the 50' Woman.
Kaiju biology is covered in a text box. Classified as radiovores, most draw sustenance from radioactivity. This is convenient as the game takes place exclusively on a United Nations' force field enclosed island, a former A-bomb test site. A special UN Science Alert Corps, helps local forces subdue, and capture rampaging monsters, and then transports them to the island for safe keeping and study. Kaiju are really hard to kill, almost impossible, and regenerate over time. This works out well for the premise and for PCs, losing a battle is never fatal.
Monster Island is Action! Packed, meaning it contains stripped down Action! system OGL rules for play right in the book. The relative simplicity of the Action! core rules is made simpler and even easier. Role playing opportunities are few but interaction, other than combat, between monsters is also a part of the game. Some generic clones of movie star monsters are provided as well as background on the history of the UN Science Alert Corp and Monster Island. The story includes alien invaders and hostile atlantians, and some times the kaiju are the heroes (sound familiar?).
At just under $10, you'll have to look past the material value of the book and enjoy the far greater fun value of the product. Personally, I'm looking forward to the Escape from Monster Island supplement. The advertisement says it expands the game to escaped kaiju attacking cities and the local's response with the UN's help. Did you notice my lip movement never matched what I was writing?