The Full Monty: Episode Two: Monty In The Mines

Our intrepid talpidae makes his entry to the underground lair. But will my sanity survive?

(if you haven’t read part one of quite why I’m playing through a near thirty-year old game, it can be found here.)
Level Two:
Death By: Falling, Miner, Light Globe, SprayCan, Crusher
Monty enters the mine, and almost immediately a few things become apparent.

Beware The Spray Can. And for that matter, pretty much everything else.
Beware The Spray Can. And for that matter, pretty much everything else.

For a start, the miner has followed Monty, but only into the initial antechamber; he’s not actually able to run any further.
Which means, logically speaking, that he’s chased and killed Monty on the previous level to get into a mine that he doesn’t even fit into. Chew on that for a while. Meanwhile, Monty will be sobbing in the corner, because there’s no way out. Run back into the miner, and he will kill you. Believe me. I tried.
Monty can only go on into the mines, and hope he doesn’t run into a Balrog. No, wait, wrong story there.
This would actually be simpler than some of the things Monty's going to have to do.
This would actually be simpler than some of the things Monty's going to have to do.

Level Two of Wanted! Monty Mole sets the scene for the entire rest of the game. This is a title of running, jumping, avoiding and getting killed.
Mostly that last part.
There are obvious things that kill you, such as pretty much anything moving, and then there are less obvious things. Like falling. Monty can fall only a short distance; in many circumstances it’s just a tiny bit further than he can jump. And the platform layout of many levels encourages this. He’s also able to clip the purple tunnel that prohibits the miner’s entry; clipping looks like an error but it’s actually a gameplay feature… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The other thing you’ve got to do is collect things. Typically in games of this era, collectibles were stationary, and they were flashing. Like, say, that light globe right at the start of the level. Leaving aside why it’s glowing (after all, this is a level that features a killer spray can, so logic’s not a strong suit), it would seem pretty handy to have a light in a mine, especially one that’s been obviously left to crumble, given the miner can’t even enter it any more.
So I jump into it.
And it kills me. Repeatedly, because I’m sometimes stupid that way.
Monty Is Dead. This time, it's my fault.
Monty Is Dead. This time, it's my fault. Sorry, Monty.

 
Because the game wants you to learn something very early on. If it wants to kill you, it will. Repeatedly. The crusher at the top of the screen — handily labelled with CRUSH, just in case you didn’t pick that a massive piston repeatedly falling from the top of the screen might be bad news for a mole — falls in a seemingly random pattern. It’s not that risky in this case, as you can jump from the top of the left hand vine straight up into the moving platform and avoid it anyway. Three collected glowing stones — they’re presumably not the coal, unless coal in 1984 was significantly more radioactive back then — and it’s down the screen to level three…
Level Three
Death By: Falling, Falling Debris, Falling Brick, Torch, Crusher
 
Beware The Falling Objects. Try not to think about who's dropping them all the time.
Beware The Falling Objects. Try not to think about who's dropping them all the time.

Level Three introduces items that fall through the screen. Naturally, they kill you if they hit you, but they’re not too hard to avoid. The Crusher at the top of the screen is much harder, because its travel time is very low, and there’s no warning it’s coming down, or indeed time to get out of its way. If you’re below it and you see it move you’re already dead.
Another little curiosity here (and, I should have noted on level two, as well) is that if Monty dies, his spirit flies up on little angel wings while a mournful beepy tune plays. But if he dies on level one… he just dies. What’s the story with that?
Speaking of stories, I suspect the authors had seen Raiders Of The Lost Ark one too many times. That’s a whip down there on the lower ledge, and while you can jump over and land on it, you can also collect it. Why does a mole need a whip?
Well, he needs a whip because if he doesn’t collect it, then running into the candle will kill him. Whips wielded by creatures noted for their poor eyesight and corresponding poor aim are apparently the natural enemy of the cave-dwelling candle. Did you know that? I didn’t know it first time, which naturally meant that the candle killed me.
By now, I’ve seen this screen about a half-dozen times
By now, I’ve seen this screen about a half-dozen times

Still, collection of everything at this point, as long as the vengeful crusher doesn’t decide to squish you, is fairly straightforward. Onto level four!
Level Four
Death By: Falling, Falling Debris, Purple Bat-Thing


There's something wrong with this level. It just doesn't seem dangerous enough.
There's something wrong with this level. It just doesn't seem dangerous enough.



What? A level with only three death threats? It’s almost like the game is easing up on me. The trick here, though, is that it’s a tricky juggling act to jump up and then duck down again to avoid the bat-thing, and equally a little odd trying to get down again having picked up the… gold bar? diamond? Surely those things can’t be coal, can they?
Even so, this isn’t too hard a level, although as I quickly discovered, if you have a run of bad judgement early on, you can be low on lives for the next level…
Next time: Monty gets a nasty surprise. And then another one. And… (is all out of painkillers)

About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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