Review by Jen
Hollywood Monsters is a little-known and much sought-after
(if that's not self-contradictory, I don't know what is) adventure
game by Pendulo Studios. Pendulo is a Spanish game developer that
was planning to bring out the game Runaway, but at the
time of this writing (December 2001) it looks like the English
version of Runaway may never see the light of day due to
the bankruptcy of Dinamic Multimedia, Pendulo's publisher.
Hollywood Monsters is a traditional type of point-and-click
adventure game, with no dying, no timed puzzles, lots of inventory
items, and lots of locations. Not only that, but it is cartoon-style
animation and you get to play as two different characters. Sounds
pretty good, right? Well, maybe ...
You start the game playing as Sue Bergman, Quill reporter. You
are assigned to cover the annual Hollywood Monsters award after-party
at the mansion of movie mogul Otto Hannover. You must solve puzzles
to dig up some dirt on the monsters, and ultimately you stumble
upon some sort of evil plot and are kidnaped by the as-yet-unknown
bad guys. The Quill's editor then sends reporter Ron Ashman to
find out why Sue never turned up the next morning, and you play
nearly all of the remainder of the game as Ron. Turns out that
Frankenstein knew too much, and he was cut up into several pieces.
His body parts were hidden inside the award statues (the "Oscars,"
if you will), and you must recover all of Frank's body parts.
The story is greatit's entertaining as can be, and you get
to chat with all of the Hollywood movie monster greatsDracula,
the Werewolf, the Mummy, and several others.
The graphics are all quite well-done, too. The game is pure 2D
still scenery with the characters and items on top, and occasional
moving creatures create a sense of aliveness in the various locales.
Care was obviously lavished on dreaming up the ideas and rendering
the artwork. I'll let the screenshots speak for themselves.
However, that is about where the good stuff ends. The first part
of the game, where you are playing as Sue, is really promising.
You always have a pretty clear indication of what to do or what
you need to accomplish a specific task and how to go about getting
it. She doesn't have very many locations available to her, so
there's not a lot of traipsing back and forth.
But when you play as Ron, you very quickly end up overwhelmed
by the sheer quantity of inventory items and locations, and you
must travel back and forth continuously to all of these places
in order to use items from one place in solving a puzzle in another
place. And the inventory item uses are worthy contenders for the
"Huh?" hall of fame. Sometimes you must combine two
or more items from two or more different locations to get another
new item that you still can't figure out how to use. There are
seven or eight major locations, and while some of these comprise
only two or three screens, others have upwards of twenty. This
is the kind of game where, in frustration, you wind up trying
every inventory item on every other inventory item, everything
and everyone onscreen in every location, and with every command
(use, look, talk, give, etc.) at your disposal. And this is an
unbelievably daunting task given the almost infinite number of
Also, there were several puzzles of the "guess what the
game designer had in mind" variety. You know the kindthe
ones that you can only solve by sheer luck or by walkthrough because
nobody in the whole wide world would ever figure out the puzzle
premise on his/her own.
Luckily, the developers included the walkthrough right on the
game disk. Guess what I wound up doing? That's right, using the
walkthrough for every move I made. But how fun is that? Not very.
Despite this, it still took me at least 20 hours to finish the
game. I bet it would have taken until the end of time without
On top of all of that, there were big chunks of dialogue throughout
the game that were never translated to English. Including the
entire (fairly long) ending custcene, which was a pisser and a
half. Needless to say, the Spanish parts did not do anything to
dilute my general sense of cluelessness or add to my gaming experience.
It's obvious that a lot of hard work went into Hollywood Monsters,
and the quality is definitely there in many areas. But ultimately
it falls flat in the fun department. I think it shows a lot of
promise, and I would hope that Pendulo would have learned some
game development lessons and not repeated the same mistakes in
Runaway. But as things stand now, we're not likely to find
out anytime soon, which is a shame.
Publisher: Dinamic Multimedia
Release Date: 1996 (Spanish); 1998 (English)
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium 75 MHz
16 MB RAM
Where to Find It