Imagine traveling to a parallel universe of a fantastical ancient Greece that is consumed by music. The gods rule the land with the Power of Funk, but the mythical creatures have other ideas and they take over the land with the power of rock, pop, and Latin rap (or reggaeton.) In an attempt to restore order, Zeus sends one of his lesser known sons to bring Funk back to the world and rid Greece of these catchy and bombastic tunes. And such is the premise of A Crowd of Monsters Funk of Titans.
Funk of Titans is an auto-running side-scrolling platformer that takes about three to four hours to complete. The game has a theme and characters pulled straight out of the 70’s and set in Greek mythology. The player controls Perseus, a son of Zeus, who sports a big afro, a yellow jacket, and some very short yellow shorts. He even comes equipped with his own catchphrases such as: “Yeah,” “Ooh Shaga Laga,” and James Brown’s famous “Get Up,” which are said endlessly as you progress through each level. In each of the three world’s, Perseus is joined by NPC’s of Zeus (who could be considered either Samuel L. Jackson or Isaac Hayes,) Athena (who is named Aretha and looks like a young Aretha Franklin,) and a fat white Hercules, who all give you helpful hints and motivation.
Each of the three worlds has 13 levels, one Grunt mini-boss at the half-way point of the world, and a final boss located at the end of the world. This equates to 45 levels in total, which is actually a pretty hefty number for an indie title, although the levels aren’t overy long. They take anywhere from three to five minutes to complete. The 13 levels in each world vary in certain thematic sets, but all start to just blend into each other by the time you reach the final boss. Some of the backdrops do look nice, but nothing is going to blow you away mainly because the graphics still look very last-gen. There are also some framerate drops that do occur, especially when there are a lot of obstacles on screen at once. I also noticed some framerate issues when I hit a few of those obstacles a little faster than the game would like. I didn’t notice them all that often, but there were a few times when the framerate issue caused me to miss-time a jump and I died. My biggest issue with the graphics happen in certain levels where the mixture of colors between Perseus and the backdrop blend together, making it very difficult to see what you are doing. Overall though, I was mainly disappointed with the lack of variety on display. The enemies are the same three types throughout the entire game and they don’t even change their attire or actions at all. The same goes for the background music. The same few forgettable tunes play through each of the levels and for a game that is about the greatness of funk, you’d think they would either bombard you with Funk music or at least have music that goes with the current world in which you are playing. At least its par for the course with the world’s themselves, which have a bland setting that also has nothing to do with the music either. I guess the snow and ice theme for the rap world could be a reference to Ice Cube, but I highly doubt it. Even the level select screen feels tired, as it looks exactly like what you see in the New Super Mario Bros games.
As with any platformer, your task is to make it to the end of each level alive, while also trying to collect as many gold vinyl’s, (also the game’s currency,) as possible before getting to the end. There’s also a secret “Pegasus Idol” trophy that can be obtained by either unlocking a door with a special weapon or by going down a separate path. If you do all of these things in one level, you “Gold” the level, once again similar to New Super Mario Bros. Perseus can do that by jumping or by pressing any of the other face buttons to do his one attack. Yes, no matter whether you press X, Y, or B Perseus does the same attack. Perseus can take one hit and be fine, but if you make another mistake, the player will have to repeat the level. Thankfully, the load times are pretty quick if that does happen. Although, the game is rather unfair to the player when you do a make a mistake. The developers chose to make Perseus get knocked back a few feet to help you get your bearings before trying again. The issue is, it will usually occur in the middle of various obstacles that are grouped together. So, let’s say I don’t see the fire pit, well because the game knocks Perseus back, I wind up nailing the spiked enemy behind me and there’s nothing I can do about it. So, many of the times I made a mistake I immediately died because another obstacle or enemy was at my restart point.
There’s also no difficulty level in this game, so the actual difficulty comes from how each level is structured and what number of obstacles are in Perseus’s way. For all of the technical issues I discussed previously, the developers did a nice job of continually adding something new every three or four levels. One of the things Funk of Titans does well is making you feel as though everything in the level was meant to be there. In one sequence Perseus may have to jump over a fire pit, jump on top of an enemy, hit a switch while in mid-air, and then use parkour to wall jump continually and end it with grabbing a glider to hit a jump pad. However, the issue is because the developers chose to take their time to introduce the player to each one of these obstacles, you don’t get that feeling I just described until very late in the game. While I can see the good intention of trying to introduce something like a moving platform and letting the player get used to it being there, it makes the game feel like they are trying to take you through some logical progression that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it is because A Crowd of Monsters is used to developing on mobile platforms where this technique is a standard, but it feels weird here. Especially because it makes the lack of variety in enemy types, attacks for Perseus, and level objectives fairly obvious. If more obstacles were introduced faster, it could hide these negatives.
Adding to that feeling is how simple and boring the mini-boss and final boss levels are. The Grunt mini-boss level is the same for all three world’s and takes place inside a wrestling ring. However, that is simply a setting and has no bearing on what happens. Both the mini-boss and final boss are defeated by doing three rounds of quick-time button presses. The game even has a 50 G achievement if you beat all three Grunts and final bosses without missing a QTE, let me tell you that had to be one of the easiest 50G achievements I’ve ever unlocked. The final bosses are actually the only characters in the entire game that coincide with the theme of each world. At the end of the pop world for instance you do a QTE dance battle with a Lady Gaga inspired Medusa, while some pop music plays in the background to boot. This is what I meant by the logical progression not making any sense, because the game could do without the mini-boss and final boss levels entirely. So, you are basically just completing the levels with no real ultimate goal. I also feel like the developers missed a big opportunity to add some sort of dance or rhythm game element to the final bosses, if anything just to make it fit with the theme of the entire game a bit more.
At least the developers tried to give players another reason to go back and play levels again with “Zeus’s Heroic Missions.” These missions come in sets of three. For instance, you might have to do things like jump in one level 25 times, and across several levels defeat five of a certain enemy, and do 20 wall jumps. Then you will gain a level, get a bonus number of gold vinyl’s, and get three more heroic missions to complete. Although, I have no idea why they felt the need to include mission objectives that required the player to be bad at the game to complete them. For example, one of the objectives might ask you to complete five levels shirtless, which means you actually on purpose allowed an enemy or obstacle to hurt you. Not to mention, these hero levels Perseus gains are merely cosmetic, as is the entire hero store that is available for you to spend the gold vinyl’s you collect, but if you want to get all of the achievements or “Gold” levels you have to do them, because certain weapons can only be unlocked at certain levels. Although purely cosmetic, getting to go around with a Darth Vader or Batman mask in levels can give you a good laugh. The weapons on the other hand, do serve the purpose of unlocking Pegasus Idol doors and adding a small touch of fun to attacking enemies. I mean who doesn’t want to use a light saber or flaming sword? Although, similar to the rest of the game. There isn’t a true reason to actually buy anything other than the flame sword, the lightsaber, and the stop sign because those are the only three weapons that actually unlock Pegasus doors.
Speaking of the Pegasus Idols, when you get one of these in a level, you unlock a special “Pegasus Idol” level that is basically a mini Jetpack Joyride or Flappy Birds. You hold the A button down to make Pegasus charge forward and have to let go to be able to change direction to avoid walls or floating enemies. There are also gold vinyl’s you can collect here as well. And since some of the heroic missions require you to either crash Pegasus a number of times or take him a certain number of meters, it is nice that you can buy Pegasus Idols for cheap in the store, although you will still have to collect them in an actual level if you want to get the “Gold” for that level.
In the end, Funk of Titans is an endlessly average game that is rife with missed opportunities to make it something memorable. The game’s theme and characters are never expanded upon, the game is also pretty short and the whole thing really feels as though it may have worked better on a mobile platform. The actual meat of the game is decent, but the lack of variety and completely cosmetic leveling system make what happens in the levels forgettable. Throw-in boss battles that are for some reason the most boring part of the entire game and it is a package that doesn’t meld together at all. Even though the $8.99 price tag is $6 cheaper than most indie games that show up on Xbox One, I’d say save your money on this one.
Final Score: 2 out of 5