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Super Man Or Monster

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Release Date: Oct. 31, 2017


PC Review - 'Super Man Or Monster'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Super Man Or Monster is a monsterilled action game in which you protect or destroy the world as a man or monster. Build an army, jetpack around, blast monsters and kick ass — or bash, stomp and wreck cities.

No matter what the backstory is or what human drama can be conjured, most people look forward to one thing in a standard kaiju movie: the big battle. The spectacle of the armed forces trying to take down a large, lumbering beast can be exciting, though some may enjoy seeing the creature take down the artillery and buildings before retreating or being defeated. Many games try to emulate the big kaiju battle sequence from both sides, and the results have varied from memorable to forgettable. Super Man or Monster is squarely in the middle on all counts.

The premise of the game is simple but is different depending on who you opt to play as. When playing as the man, your job is to protect your city from a rampaging monster. As long as the monster falls before the last city building is destroyed, you win. When playing as the monster, your job is to destroy every building before letting out a deafening roar and claiming victory. From there, you travel to another city to start the process anew.

As the man, Super Man or Monster takes on a few properties from a tower defense title. While you have a blaster with infinite ammo, the damage it produces isn't significant. You also have a jetpack to jump on buildings, but early on, your pack is only powerful enough to leap onto the smallest structures. Thus, you'll spend more time running around the level and placing structures (turrets) and vehicles (tanks). After a minute, the monster arrives, so you don't have much time to prepare before the battle begins and you must stop the monster. Once the monster has fallen, you can approach its corpse and plant a flag to signal your victory.

There are a number of interesting things you can do as the man during the fight. Aside from laying down arms against the monster, you can get into the turrets or vehicles to control the firing rate and direction. You can rescue civilians to earn some extra cash. You can also pick up extra cash from the rubble of fallen buildings, which can be a conflict for those who want to maximize their cash reward for a stage since they can balance out how many buildings the monster can destroy before they must stop it.

Between levels, you can spend cash to refill the towers and vehicles you used in the previous mission, and you can also buy yourself some newly unlocked vehicles, like sturdier tanks and helicopters. You can use this opportunity to strengthen the man, but this is where the game becomes tricky since the only way to power up the man is by finding special coins. Those coins are hidden throughout the world, mostly at the top of buildings or within them, and at your weakest level, you'll struggle to get around the map to thoroughly look around before the monster destroys everything. Since you can't predict where the monster will go, you can't bait it into destroying a building to get the coin. Unless you're lucky enough to let the monster uncover it for you or find the correct pattern to reach roof to get the coin before the carnage begins, you'll spend the majority of the game in a woefully underpowered state.

If you play as the monster, the game changes from being a platforming tower defense title to a 3-D homage to the classic arcade game, Rampage. From the moment you land at the outskirts of the city, your job is to wreck every building and structure you see in your way, and you must reach the guns, turrets and other armaments fast enough so they don't whittle down your health and cause your demise. You can refill your health by eating fleeing civilians, so your missions are more relaxed since you're not trying to race against time. Your mission to destroy everything in your path also means that you can uncover secret coins more easily, since it appears naturally instead of through exploration. Your basic attacks consist of swipes and stomps, but you start with a rushing tackle and the ability to spew fireballs.

Much like the man, monsters can use the cash earned to refill their powers between levels or buy new ones, like a poisonous fart cloud that lingers on-screen for a while. The special coins obtained can be used to upgrade some of your monster's stats, but you can also choose to change your monster for the next mission, giving you more to work with outside of the obvious Godzilla clone, since the monsters have different aesthetics and basic attacks to go along with their different stats.

Both are fun experiences, but your choice of a playable character determines the difficulty of Super Man or Monster. If you're playing as the man, the game can be tough, as you'll only make it through the first stage with a building or two remaining in the city. Considering how underpowered you are during most of the game, the journey through this campaign can be difficult but not insurmountable. However, playing as the monster makes the game a breeze, as cities can be destroyed very quickly, and the only way for you to die is to meander and let yourself get shot for a while.

No matter who you choose, though, one of the game's big shortcomings is that its gameplay length is quite short. Each campaign only has 12 levels, with no variation on the city whatsoever. Considering the lack of variety in your actions, that brevity can be a blessing since it means you won't get bored as easily — or a curse, since there's not much to do once you see the end credits and find a lack of online leaderboards.

To alleviate this a bit, the game features a split-screen mode where one player plays as the man and the other plays as the monster. However, due to the game's balancing act and ability for the monster to regain health, it'll take someone who is very adept as playing as the man in order to even have a slight chance at winning. Balancing patches are constantly being done here but for many, this will be a one and done mode.

The presentation for the game is fairly good but only under certain circumstances. Though it may seem overused by now, the game's use of voxels is perfect for the kind of destruction being unleashed. It could use more of them flying around whenever buildings are destroyed but it still does a good job of displaying debris as a whole. That said, the first thing that needs to be done is to turn off the retro filter that's activated by default as the harsh color banding and unnecessary jagged lines make the game look far worse than what was experienced in the early days of polygon gaming. As for the audio, you've got lots of chiptune tracks here that are fun to listen to while the effects can be hit or miss as far as their overall volume is concerned.

Super Man or Monster is good enough to provide a scant few hours of entertainment. The choice to play as either man or monster helps pad out the game's overall length and while split screen is a good idea, the imbalance of power means that anyone who picks a monster is almost always guaranteed victory. With a decent enough presentation, it is good for some mindless fun but don't expect to come back to the game once you see the end for both campaigns.

Score: 7.0/10

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