King of the Monsters 2 -
The Next Thing

Platform: Neo-Geo MVS
Other Platforms: Neo-Geo AES, Neo-Geo CD, SNES, Mega Drive
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
Released: 1992
Genre: Fighting - Arena
Players: 1-2 (Co-op/Vs)

King of the Monsters 2 - The Next Thing is an incredibly obnoxious game. It's obnoxious because it's got a relatively solid foundation (the sorely underrated King of the Monsters), nice looking old-school sprite graphics, a most rockin' soundtrack, and really neat enemy designs... And then it squanders all these good points by actively hating the person playing it, desiring nothing more than the spare change that's nestled in their wallet. Oh, and to hear their cries of pain and suffering, and lap up their tears.

Only three of the monsters from the first game, now in upgraded forms, return- Super Geon, Atomic Guy and Cyber Woo- and while there were hardly any differences between the monsters originally, it's still strange there's less characters to pick from. As a trade-off, the monsters have three 'charge' moves each (once you reach full power anyway) and now have differing stats. Not that this is going to help you, of course... Unlike the wrestling style of its predecessor, KOTM2 takes a simpler approach- rather than pin your enemies to the ground, you simply have to drain their health bar. Each stage also has a short side-scrolling section where the humans and aliens try to kill you, and it's in these sections you can power up your monster, giving them extra health and more attacks. Reach the end of each stage, and it's time to fight the boss!

... And it's at this point where the problem comes in. The outrageous difficulty. Now, this isn't the same as some no-talent pussy loading up DoDonPachi for the first time, getting creamed by the first wave of enemies and then whining 'it's too haaaaaard'. No, King of the Monsters 2 is explicitly designed to be as aggravating as possible, and doesn't reward skill at all. The boss enemies have ridiculously large health bars, will throw you every time you try to grapple them, avoid your charge attacks if your timing is off by a picosecond (and after you use them more than once, they'll avoid them no matter what you do)... Even the side-scrolling sections have some instant-kill traps, power-downs that essentially rob you of a credit, and every time you get touched you have to mash the buttons like a God-damn idiot to get back up! The only, and I mean only way to get 'good' at the game is to learn the cheapest, most repetitive actions (like repeatedly using Super Geon's Snake Fire attack) and although you'll win, this makes the game very boring.

Not even the two-player mode can save this train-wreck- with the removal of the majority of the wrestling moves and the run button, your attacks are severely limited, which means it boils down to who can grab the power-up icons first, so it isn't nearly as fun as the first game. Don't even think about trying the two-player co-op mode unless you really hate your so-called 'friend'. It's quite difficult to out-right hate it though- it adds a few neat features that the first game was missing (using buildings as weapons, a dedicated jump button, character differences), the graphics ooze 90s charm from every orifice, and the music is so perfect for a game like this, but SNK literally screwed up everything else and turned it into a total wreck. A real shame.

For providing evidence that difficulty does indeed matter sometimes, King of the Monsters 2: The Next Thing is awarded...

In a sentence, King of the Monsters 2: The Next Thing is...
A game you want to love, but doesn't love you back.

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