Ever watch Mystery Science Theater 3000? It was a cult classic show that featured schlocky sci-fi movies from the 60s and 70s so bad they were hilarious, they had incredibly outdated and awful stop motion, and plots as ridiculous as the acting.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters, an isometric dual-stick shooter from developer ACE Team, aims to capture just that, and it executes it flawlessly. As with those movies, this is just as bad, and you won’t be able to turn away like a proverbial train wreck.
Deadly Tower reminded me of kind of Gauntlet clone, but apart from the B-movie backdrop they both still involve gunning down endless streams of baddies. You play as one of three heroes: Dick Starspeed, Scarlet Nova, and the aptly named Robot. They can all dodge and parry, but each has their own special moves available on a cooldown timer. There’s also a range of upgradeable weapons that go from standard ray guns to swords and laser whips.
What I liked most about Deadly Tower is how fresh the game constantly keeps things. At first I thought it was going to be a simple sci-fi spoof with aliens, but it’s so much more than that. There’s Planet of the Ape-esque monkey men, “Energy Imps,” a Ghost Pirate ship, and so much more. The gimmick is really cool as well, in that the entire game takes place on a gigantic tower that extends from the ground level of an alien planet all the way to space. Players will slowly climb said tower with checkpoints, which you can instantly teleport to after obtaining them.
The best part though is the freefalling system. From any point of the tower you can jump off, starting a falling animation that allows you to aim and shoot downwards, collecting helpful objects in the air as you descend. It’s a rush to jump off really high points and just take in the scenery, and boss fights that incorporate this mechanic are even more fun. The fact that you can use an “air teleport” system at the touch of a button to return to the point where you fell and teleport to any checkpoint at any time is the icing on the cake, allowing a large degree of freedom when it comes to exploration. This is especially helpful on PC, where I encountered two crashes in my first play through; when I loaded the game again I picked up right back where I left off.
With some great visual touches and reminiscent background melodies that should remind those hardcore sci-fi fans of classics like The Thing or The Blob, Deadly Tower of Monsters succeeds at enthusiastic nostalgia where most attempts fail. At just six hours its length might be the only real setback, but every minute is stacked with retro-thrills that leave you hoping for a sequel.