Montaro is a doge. No really, he’s a doge. This surprisingly addictive little game is all about Montaro, a doge or shibe, going around and surviving good old retro-ish Japan. The game immediately catches your eye with its simplicity and catchy, carefree sounding music. In fact, it is so simple, it has only one control button, Mouse 1 or left click.
I first heard of the game when I noticed one my friends on Steam just couldn’t stop playing it. Day after day, I’d log on and without missing a beat, he’ll still be in Montaro. What sold me was how well it played up to nostalgia. The game is very reminiscent of the sort of games you would be able to get inside your Nintendo Gameboy and or Micro Genius and Sega cartridges. The simple sort of game, where you try and survive the map and whatever the map throws at you. It’s a very good casual runner game, basically.
When you boot up the game for the first time, the first thing that strikes you is the attention to detail. If anyone has happened to have used Japanese or looking like Japanese programs before, you’d sometimes notice that the programs will have a pleasant blue window, not unlike an old Windows style window. Montaro by default boots up in such a window, so this bit is immediately apparent. Another thing you’ll immediately be greeted by is the music. Cheerful, happy and totally carefree, just like a pet dog. There are 3 8-bit sounding tunes in total but they’re happy enough that you probably won’t mind them looping over and over again.
Other little quirks make the game feel both fun and a little irreverent. I won’t spoil some of the features here, but as they’re tied into the Steam’s achievement system that should at least give you some clues. Basically, there are quirky little things you can click on in the menus and this lends the game some additional charm.
You can also have Montaro wearing different types of silly outfits and costumes, most of which are references to popular culture. For example, you’ve One Pantsu Doge as a reference to the anime series One Punch Man. You also have a cardboard box that probably references the Metal Gear franchise. All these can be bought using the Doge coins you pick up during the game. The coins give you a reason to continue playing the game, alongside the fact that like most old games from decades ago, the objective is to beat your previous high score.
The game’s actual game mode is simplicity itself. Left clicks make Montaro jump. Montaro can jump up onto walls, boxes, vending machines and back down onto the street level. Montaro can however, be killed by incoming crows, attack chickens, angry cats that live on top of boxes and the occasional swarm of birds that Montaro might (or accidentally) trigger. Montaro can also be killed if he accidentally falls into an open man hole. Montaro can also use banana peels that are helpfully (or not) left on the ground to bounce up to higher locations, albeit a bit uncontrollably. It can also sometimes cause you to land on or in hazards like chickens or the open man holes. (Incidentally, you can also use said banana peel bounce to knock out incoming crows.) So, the skill needed is to basically steer Montaro out of incoming danger.
An additional game mechanic is the use of….panties. Each panty at the top of the screen represents the number of times you can step on a banana peel, with each panty worth 2 banana peel hits for a total of 6 times. If you’ve stepped on more banana peels than you have panties, Montaro will be a bit dazed and for a shortwhile, not be controllable; which means he can blunder into objects sooner. Fortunately, the game is rather generous and there seems to be a never ending chain of high school girls going the same direction as Montaro. This allows you to replenish your panty supply rather quickly.
The game tracks the distance you cover as well as the number of coins you get in a single session. The addictiveness of Montaro comes from your own need to beat your own previous high score, which is good because you can pretty much unlock most of the costumes after a few dedicated playthroughs. But I think the main selling point for Montaro, apart from its very reasonable price tag of RM 3 is that it’s a quick and simple game for when you just so happen to be waiting for something else to happen in another game. What I mean is this: you can play Montaro on Steam while waiting for your other game like World of Warcraft to either finish booting or teleporting you to a different location.
To sum up Montaro: it’s a cheap, fun little game that feels like its worth more than its price tag suggests. The game has a nice little nostalgic charm thanks to its pixel art appearance, music and the way it references popular culture.