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Monkey Puncher

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Released: 2000

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Game Boy Color

Publisher: Evolution Entertainment

Developer: Taito

Submitted by: Matt Gander

When it comes to landmark Game Boy Color games the word ‘Nintendo’ is all to prominent. Indeed, Harvest Moon and Dragon Warrior aside it’s something of a struggle to name quality third-party titles. That’s unless you had the pleasure of playing Taito's Money Puncher, which not only had the greatest game name ever but also a hilariously botched translation that could rival the infamous Zero Wing.

The plot was as garbled as they come – mysterious gangsters known as the ‘Saru Group’ have been kidnapping monkey trainers with the use of mind control. After their father goes missing, Kenta and Sumire (the two playable characters) decide to raise a monkey fighter of their own in order to find his whereabouts.

Monkey Puncher is best described as a mixture of Pokemon and a generic virtual pet – your chosen chimp had to be kept happy and well fed, while playing the training mini-games would improve its strength and stamina. Every now and then an invite for a monkey punching match appeared which could choose to accept or decline. The matches took place in boxing rings but sadly the only interaction in this section is to hammer the A button to help your monkey back on their feet. When loosing a match, the trainer would yell “You ass as you!”

Firstly your primate had to be tamed by giving it food and by calling its name via the menus. Once disciplined the fun started – you could send the critter on shopping errands and praise or “rebuke” its random purchases, send it on dates with other monkeys in hope of being able to breed a super monkey or take it training. Training stages were pleasingly simple – pick a subject (sit-ups, punch-bag, jogging, etc) and then press the A button in good timing to get a chain going.

Monkey Puncher was an incredibly simple game at heart, but also curiously addictive and as cute as a button. Copies are hard to come by as publisher Evolution Entertainment vanished off the scene as quickly as they arrived.

“Tomorrow I shall also work hard!”