Monster Lair is the second NEC TurboGrafx-16 game (after Fighting Street) to be released in compact disc format. The game fits squarely into the walk-along-a-variety-of-back-grounds-and-defeat-a-series-of-inventive-monsters category, but has some appealing features that set it apart from the many similar games.
Monster Lair has 14 levels, each of which contains an action scene and a shooting scene. In the action scene, you can move left or right, jump, and fire weapons at monsters. In the shooting scene, the jump button is disabled.
At the end of each action scene, you enter a dragon-shaped gate. From there you proceed to the shooting scene, where a huge monster waits. Once past the monster, you begin the next level. It's all pretty straightforward, but challenging nevertheless.
To finish the game, you have to defeat all 14 boss monsters in addition to a series of minor foes. Along the way, you can find food, collect miscellaneous items, and - when you defeat certain monsters - acquire more powerful weapons (which are of variable durability). Each time you fall through a hole, tumble into the water, or fall off your mount, you lose one of your three lives. You also lose vitality as time passes or when you're attacked by an enemy. Food helps you regain vitality, and some food yields more vitality if you shoot it before picking it up. Also, you can gain extra lives by scoring enough points.
Monster Lair is a fast and colorful game that's even more fun when played by two people (the multiple-player mode requires a TurboTapaccessory). And because the game is on CD, the stereo soundtrack is superb. Monster Lair has enough charm to last through many playings.