I was going to record commentary for my play through of Ace Team's action-packed love letter to terrible '70s science fiction movies, but The Deadly Tower of Monsters brought its own, and it makes the game. The newly-released hack-and-slash adventure is filtered through VHS artifacts and studded with the tropes that defined just about every science fiction film Mystery Science Theatre 3000 ever mocked — poor stop motion, relatives in bad suits, poorly-constructed puppets and horrible acting. It's the sort of nonsense that would come on after the cartoons on Saturday morning when I was growing up.
I get the warm fuzzies just looking at the opening splash screen for the PC and PlayStation 4 game, but warm fuzzies don't make a game. If all The Deadly Tower of Monsters offered was nostalgia-tempered schlock and the odd dick joke (the male hero's name is Dick Starspeed) layered atop what is otherwise a pretty basic action game, I'd sooner recommend watching it than playing it.
But it's much more than that, thanks to a hilarious director's commentary that runs through the entire game.
And I mean the entire game.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters isn't a game. It isn't a bad sci-fi movie. It's the DVD re-release of a bad sci-fi movie that you just happen to play. Dan Smith is with you the entire way, waxing nostalgic about the way film was made back in the day . . .
. . . giving us a peek behind-the-scenes . .
. . . and delivering a bit of commentary on the gaming/movie industry here and there.
If it weren't for director Dan Smith, The Deadly Tower of Monsters would get old real quick. Combat, despite a nice assortment of weapons and a nicer assortment of enemies, is relatively staid. The vertigo-inducing downward-shooting mechanic is much better at inducing vertigo than promoting shooting.
Dan Smith is the real hero of this movie. Or game. Or DVD re-release. Every time the gameplay proper stumbles towards boring territory, in comes Dan with a quip or comment or random musing to save the day.
Maybe the film briefly breaks.
Or things briefly go black and white.
There's always something, and I can't wait to see what Dan Smith says or does next.
The game itself? Eh, I could take it or leave it. Dan Smith though — he's a keeper.