Someone, somewhere, sat down with a game studio and said, "you know what's totally hip with the kids right now? Classic Universal Studios monsters!"
I'm serious. Well, not about the pitch, but that Universal Monsters Online is a real project, and soon you'll be able to play it. It's one of many quirky games that tragically slip into obscurity while social tycoons and triple-A developers hog the spotlight. This isn't to say it's bad (I don't know, I just signed up for the beta today), but that it is easily overshadowed by games and companies we all know well.
It is the first entry in a potential series I like to call weird games you'll never notice.
Universal Monsters Online tries to answer one very important question every five-year-old asks: Who would win in an all-out fight between Frankenstein's monster and Dracula? UMO is a browser-based battle arena where players choose iconic Universal monsters and brawl for the chance to "get the girl." That reward seems slightly out of place if you're using the Bride of Frankenstein, but whatever. You can make Gill-Man and Dracula fight, and maybe see if Wolfman has nards….
When I first saw assets for UMO, I laughed. A browser-based brawler focusing on monsters almost no one cares about anymore? That's a laughable concept, or was until I started looking into potential future characters. If you look at the image I included at the top of the article, you'll see the metal-handed policeman from Young Frankenstein as well as the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth.
Big Point, the game's developer, isn't just pulling out weird Universal monsters, but including totally amazing characters from affiliated brands. The game's art style isn't very appealing, but I think the creative potential in the project will make up for the underwhelming graphical capabilities.
Perhaps it is the perpetual child in me that loved coming up with wild scenarios in which movie monsters would duke it out. I really want to see a Metaluna Mutant fight, well…anything.
If you're as strangely curious about this project as I am, you can sign up for the beta here. I've gone from thinking Universal Monsters Online looks completely silly to contemplating potential fights. Sometimes great games come in simple packages. Let's see if UMO is just weird enough for us to remember it.