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monsters_inc_ps_lr_2-01.jpg (7433 bytes)Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you may want to hold off on reading this review. I really don’t know how to talk about this game without talking about the ending of the film. The movie revolves around a world of monsters that derives all of its energy from the screams and terror of children. However, as the movie progresses, we learn that scaring is a bad thing and that much more power can be gotten out of making children laugh. The movie drains all of the fun out of the idea of scaring little kids. Wisely, the Sony PlayStation game starts off well before the events of the movie. Our two protagonists, Sully and Mike, are at the beginning of their scaring career, and nothing sounds better to them than the screams and shrieks of little ones. They are blissfully ignorant of the psychological trauma they induce, and frightening kids is fun again.

monsters_inc_ps_lr_3-01.jpg (7573 bytes)Your job is to navigate Mike and Sully through rigorous stages of monster training in order to get them ready for scaring in the real world. The tone and set up of the game feels somewhat like army boot camp. The stages are nicely laid out with lots of things to collect. There are several modes to this game: first, your standard jumping and hitting platformer; second is scare mode where you hit a series of buttons to trigger robotic fear; and the third is a series of mini-games that serve to unlock items needed to progress through the game. Monsters Inc. takes its cue from all of the best platformers.

monsters_inc_ps_lr_1-01.jpg (8614 bytes)The scare mode is really what sets this game apart. In each level, your job is to seek out as many child robots (called nerves) and scare them out of their metallic casings. However, the execution of the scare mode leaves a little to be desired. There is very little challenge in pulling off a successful scare. You simply tap the buttons as you’re prompted by the screen. There’s very little sense of accomplishment when you successfully scare these little robots, and the sounds and animations that accompany the scares are, well, not very scary. They’re not very funny either. Rather than provoking any sense of fear, Sully’s roars and posturing come off as pretty lame.

The graphics aren’t terribly innovative, but they more than do the job. It’s been so long since I’ve played a PlayStation game that it made me appreciate how far we’ve come graphically with the next generation systems.

monsters_inc_ps_lr_4-01.jpg (9469 bytes)I enjoyed playing this game. There were a few innovations that I wasn’t expecting when I plopped it into my PlayStation. I was expecting yet another derivation of Mario or Crash. Instead, I get something that felt a little more like Escape From Monkey Island. The controls weren’t nearly as innovative, but the look and feel of the game were quite reminiscent of that great Sony platformer from a few years ago. Like the movie, this is a game that will not stick in people’s minds or hearts for very long. There is little that sets it apart from the countless platformers on the market. If you couldn’t get enough of the movie, there are film clips scattered throughout the game that work as rewards.

Monsters Inc: Scream Team is a kids’ game and it makes no pretense about appealing to the older, more seasoned gamer. I can’t fully recommend the game based on its own merits, but I can pretty much assure you that any gamer under the age of 10 is really going to get a kick out of it.

Jason Frank   (02/26/2002)


Ups: Solid gameplay; classic platform action with some good innovation; great for young gamers.

Downs: A bit simple and uninvolving for most older gamers.

Platform: PSone