Review: Monster Prom XXL (Switch)

Tough date.

By Joshua A. Johnston. Posted 08/10/2020 04:26 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Original character designs; subversive gameplay elements; high replayability
Poison Mushroom for...
Game doesn't tell you much about how to play; hit-or-miss humor; style and content isn't for everyone

In 1979, book publisher Bantam released a unique little title called The Cave of Time. Unlike typical books, this one put the reader in the shoes of the protagonist, forcing them to choose from two or three options, then turn to a different page to see how those options played out. While at times unpredictable and frustrating, The Cave of Time was also atmospheric, because no two readings were necessarily the same. It was the first book in the long-running Choose Your Own Adventure series.

Monster Prom is a game that draws heavily from the Choose Your Own Adventure style. A comedy-drama visual novel, it puts characters in the role of a monster trying to ask another monster to the high school prom. It’s a multiplatform title, available for PC (both Windows and Linux) and Mac. Nintendo Switch is currently the only console home for the game; the XXL edition on Switch includes both the core game and the Second Term DLC pack. The Switch version is $15.99, which is close to the same price as the other versions plus DLC.

It’s important to note that the cute visual style of Monster Prom XXL belies an M-rated game. This is not a title for kids, thanks to a combination of drug references, sexual themes, and a fair share of f-bombs. How pervasive it is in a single playthrough depends on the playthrough, but it’s there. The humor in Monster Prom XXL is reminiscent of raunchy comedy films, so if gutter humor isn’t your thing, this game won’t be your thing.

The game doesn’t offer much of a tutorial, per say. Instead, players first choose a character, then take a questionnaire that guides them toward possible preferred dates, and are finally sent off to school. The storyline plays out over a number of in-days, where players venture to different parts of the school and things happen, either in the form of interactions or random events. Those events help shape the connections players have with prospective dates. (Of note: players can identify either as male or female and can court either male or female NPCs.)

How successful players are depends on a combination of random and non-random factors. There is an RPG-style stat system that influences how successful certain actions may be — high charisma can make it more likely a charisma-based action will succeed — but there is also an element of uncertainty that means players don’t always know how things will work out. It’s tough to win in Monster Prom, which can be frustrating, but the game does a good job in trying to get players to come back by noting how many of the possible endings players have unlocked. It also says something about the game that it draws players in enough to make it worth investing to try just one more time to succeed.

As a visual novel, the game is primarily about character image cards and text, and for the most part they work. The NPCs are incredibly well-drawn, with flawed but endearing personalities. The location is also atmospheric, with an over-the-top school that fits the over-the-top theme. The music isn’t bad, either, with a few tunes that, depending on your tastes, may stay in your head for a while.

It’s clear the story writers had a lot fun writing the dialogue. Successes and failures alike can be pretty funny. To be sure, some of the lines bomb badly, but other lines work pretty well. (Ironically enough, some of the very best moments in the game are the least raunchy.) After enough gameplay runs, players will start to see some repetition, but you have to play it a while for that to become a problem. The included DLC element, Second Term, helps a lot.

On the subject of the DLC, players are advised to spend time with the main game before venturing into the DLC. The two play mostly the same way, but the DLC offers more characters and more endings, so it’s better suited as an evolution for the experienced player rather than something to go back and forth between. It’s up to you, though.

So what to make of this title? To a certain extent, games are always about tastes, but that is especially true here. Monster Hunter XXL is tailored specifically for those who want a bawdy Choose Your Own Adventure with light RPG elements and lots of replay value. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here, and at a pretty good price point considering the quantity of content. It’s not a game for kids, though.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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