Based on a toy property that kind of doesn’t lend itself to one, Monster in My Pocket is kind of fun game, but with some big issues.
The year is 1989, and Matchbox has just unveiled a set of collectible miniatures called Monster in My Pocket. The soft plastic mini-figures were non-poseable and cast in single colors, with no paint applications.
While they might sound like the previously popular MUSCLE toys, these minis were actually pretty different. Instead of cosmic-themed wrestlers, MiMP starred famous monsters from literature, mythology, and folklore. And wow were there a ton and a half of them.
By the time the line finished up, monsters were released in every color the line produced. Matchbox even dipped into divine pantheons, adding gods from Norse, Hindu, and Egyptian mythologies. According to the wiki for the line, they actually got into a bit of trouble with the Hindu gods being included. That’s… pretty understandable actually.
Not long after the toys came out though, followed a video game. Made for the NES, Monster in My Pocket was a side-scrolling beat ’em up with two player co-op capability. It featured two playable characters with the Vampire and the Monster, of Frankenstein fame.
A good deal of the monsters that were in the toy line were included as enemies, and it even had a storyline that valiantly half-heartedly tried to make sense. The game was also short though, had dull gameplay, and suffered from some of the worst flicker out of any NES title I’ve played.
MiMP couldn’t get simpler in terms of gameplay. You move from left to right (most of the time), and your monster could perform a melee attack, jump, and double-jump. And… that’s it. No, there are no special moves, co-op team moves, or even different attacks for the Vampire and Monster.
Fortunately the controls that are there work really well, with no anomalies. Sometimes the double-jump didn’t work if I failed to time it correctly, but other than that it was fine. Nothing special, but no problems either.
One very cool thing is that, since your character is so small, you interact with the world in interesting ways. You start out in a family home and traverse the bedroom and kitchen on your way out the door.
While the following outdoor areas, like the street, sewer, and construction site, are all neat, it’s the first few stages that were the most fun. That’s basically because I found myself battling across a bed, window ledges, and kitchen counters. I’m fairly sure that no other video game has you doing that (with maybe the Army Men series being the exception).
I was actually taken aback by the animation and detail in MiMP. The main characters animate very nicely, and are also pretty large (ironic!) with nice detail and color work. Enemies are likewise nicely detailed, though pretty much come in the “one color each” aesthetic that the toys had.
The animation is also not too great on the baddies, though the boss characters are the opposite. Not only do they almost all look great, but they seem to be just as carefully made as the heroes. There is a very big problem with this game though, and it’s the flicker. The NES couldn’t handle a lot happening at once, and it shows here. Big time.
MiMP likes to throw a whole mess of bad guys at you, which also makes the game incredibly hard at times. The issue is that this also makes the NES freak out, and almost everything that’s moving all but blinks out of existence. This can make it hard to assess who you’re looking to attack, but it more makes the game look cruddy, and that’s a shame given the imagination at play in the design.
Let this stay in the crypt
As you can see, there are a few pretty big negatives to Monster in My Pocket. That does not however, mean that there isn’t fun to be had. The game has a lot to like including the monsters that make up your enemies, some cool bosses, and fun stages to play through.
It’s a shame that the technical difficulties and boring gameplay kind of drives a stake through it.
Monster in My Pocket
Original release date: 1992