Video Game: Crush, Crumble, and Chomp!
Crush, Crumble and Chomp!
is a computer game from Epyx
, published in 1981 for the Atari 8-Bit Computers
, Apple ][
, Commodore 64
, and TRS-80
. Subtitled "The Movie Monster Game", it's a lighthearted simulation/strategy game where the player controls a gigantic movie monster
and attacks one of four major cities (New York City
, San Francisco
, Washington, DC
, and Tokyo
Generally speaking, the player is scored based on how long they manage to survive, how much damage they cause, and how many human forces they eliminate. Play proceeds with a turn-based quasi-real-time system;
the player's commands take a certain amount of time to execute, and longer commands may result in the human units making a move before the player. The monster must eat humans to stave off hunger and heal damage, though the player will
eventually lose through attrition
While the default game has six predefined monsters, the disc-based version has a "Grow your monster
" option to let the player create their own critter.
Epyx released a Spiritual Successor
, The Movie Monster Game
, in 1986, but only for the Apple ][
and Commodore 64
. This game had a similar "Monster vs. City" theme, and even featured an officially-licensed Godzilla
as a playable monster.
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
- Action Commands: Though ostensibly turn-based, the game will skip the player's current "turn" if he takes too long to enter a command.
- All There in the Manual: The instruction manual for the game is a treasure trove of comic wit; not content to simply list the commands, Jon Freeman (who later went on to create the classic game Archon) jams it full of sarcastic Take Thats, overly melodramatic Purple Prose, and hilariously irrelevant backstories for the six stock monsters (Arachnis' city-destroying rampage could've been averted if the Knicks had better appreciated his basketball skills...).
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
- Beware My Stinger Tail: One of the available monster powers is a Tail attack, which strikes enemies directly behind the player.
- Big Eater: This is a gameplay mechanic. Failure to eat regularly makes the monster hungry; if the monster becomes ravenous, the player loses control and the computer takes over.
- Breath Weapon: One of the monster powers, usually for breathing fire.
- Captain Ersatz / Expy: The six stock monsters available are clearly inspired by famous cinema monsters. Some are obvious Captain Ersatz equivalents, while others are more general Expys:
- Goshilla is a giant amphibian reptile with a Breath Weapon. He leaves a corrosive trail of radioactive waste.
- The Kraken is a giant water-locked octopus/squid. Unlike the other monsters, he must stay in waterways; this makes it harder to get food, but easier to escape attackers.
- Arachnis is a giant spider who weaves webs to block roads and digs underground to escape.
- The Glob is a shapeless, gelatinous monster that absorbs obstacles. It also leaves a flammable slime trail in its wake.
- Mechismo, a giant robot walker with a Death Ray gun. Unlike the other monsters, it does not need to eat people to survive, but it also never heals any damage it sustains.
- Mantra, a giant flying dinosaur with fire breath.note
- Character Customization: The disc-based version of the game allows players to create their own character, picking from a larger selection of body types and then "buying" abilities with Monster Points.
- Controllable Helplessness: Occurs when the monster is ravenous with hunger, and the computer begins randomly entering commands. The player can sometimes get his own commands in, but it's usually a futile attempt to avert disaster.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments: Due to the limitations of personal computers at the time, the game heavily reuses standard icons for most spaces (residential home, skyscraper, bridge, etc.). Even with this limitation, the game loosely attempts to duplicate real-world locations with the setup — for example, The Pentagon is a ring of five "skyscraper" tiles.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: This is almost always the fate of the monster; no matter how good you play, eventually the human forces will overwhelm you with attacks faster than your ability to heal/recover.
- Endless Game
- Everything Breaks: The whole point of the game, really.
- Eye Beams: One of the available monster powers, capable of zapping targets from far away.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Your monster will be killed eventually.
- Helicopter Flyswatter: Can be done, though it's somewhat difficult. The helicopter units are fairly good at keeping their distance from the monster and evading the "grab" attack.
- Invisible Wall: Each city is four screens wide and four screens tall; any attempt to move outside that region results in the monster pushing against an Invisible Wall.
- Mad Scientist: One of the last human attackers, and arguably the deadliest; a single hit from the Mad Scientist will cause the monster to gradually slow down (lose turns), hastening his eventual defeat.
- Multi-Mook Melee: That is, if you consider the amassed forces of humanity to be "mooks". Starts off with police cars, then later escalates to soldiers, tanks, artillery, and the Mad Scientist.
- New York City: One of the four available settings.
- No Plot? No Problem!
- Notzilla: Goshilla, as one would expect.
- Point Build System: Available in the disc-based version. The number of points available for building your monster, and the cost for each ability, varies based on the body form you choose.
- Public Domain Soundtrack
- Real Time with Pause: The game has an early version of this mechanic; though turn-based, the game only gave players a limited amount of time to press a command key, making it somewhat real-time. Also, longer commands may result in the human units making a move before the player does.
- San Francisco: One of the four available settings.
- Scratch Damage: Fully justified, since all of your opponents are weaker than you.
- Shout-Out: One of the more useful command sequences was to hit P (paralyze), then G (grab), then E (eat). The user's manual described this as "The Power of PG&E". PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) is the main power company for much of the Pacific Northwest.
- Arachnis is all but directly said to be the spider who gave Peter Parker his powers.
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Like anyone would make a Movie Monster Game and not feature Tokyo as a target...
- Top-Down View: In terms of gameplay, anyway; the icons show things in side-view profile for easier identification.
- To Serve Man: Appropriately enough, the nourishment rewarded from eating humans varies according to the unit: soft, unprotected civilians are the best, while armored tanks and helicopter pilots provide only a minimal amount. To make matters worse, as the game progresses, civilians will become much more rare, and the military far more common, often leaving them as the only source of food.
- Walking Wasteland: Depending on the monster/powers selected, the player can leave flames or radioactive/destructive waste in his wake.
- Washington D.C. Invasion: One of the four cities in which you can rampage.
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: The player must regularly eat people to sustain his monstrous self. Failure to do so would result in the monster going mad with hunger; this was simulated by having the game enter commands on its own, which left the player vulnerable to the humans' counterattacks.