To celebrate Horror Flora‘s four year anniversary, I’ve prepared a special treat for you: a bestiary for a non-existent monster catching game inspired by this website’s Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction essay series. Welcome to 4 Horror War, where people raise different Archetypal Fears – “Arkies” for short – into powerful monsters, and then battle each other to prove the superiority of their chosen fears. I’ll be posting a different Arky family each day from now through Halloween – today’s Arky family of the day belongs to Atomic Horror, THE PREHISTORIC MONSTER FAMILY!
Now, before we dive in to the gritty details, an explanation/reminder of how this non-existent mons game works. Unlike Pokemon, evolution is not necessarily an upgrade – in other words, the first stage of a given family is generally on par with the most “advanced” stage. Evolution reshuffles stats rather than straight-up improving them, allowing the Arky to function differently on the team.
In addition to giving you alternate options/strategies for a given Arky, the family tree of each Archetypal Fear is sort of a huge meta-reference to how actual horror archetypes have, well, evolved in fiction. Though I’ve had to stretch now and then with the families to make every monster I wanted to make fit, the meta commentary is more or less accurate enough to make my inner horror nerd happy.
Ok, enough pre-amble, let’s dive in:
The tyrant of the primeval world, Retrorex is an ancient killing machine, an apex predator of a long forgotten age brought into the modern day by mankind’s meddling with forces it should not have discovered. Hard hitting and harder to kill, this bulky monster is capable of surprising bouts of speed that make up for its purely close range attack power.
After killing four foes with a headbutt attack, Retrorex can evolve into Tricerastab. Trading some of its predecessor’s massive physical strength for more defense, this hardy monster is still capable of crushing its enemies with its massive goring horns.
After eating a special leaf called a Tree Star, Brontobite is the largest of all the Prehistoric Monsters, and also by far the slowest. Boasting an insanely high health pool and equally ludicrous defenses, this monster makes up for its average attack power and low speed by being incredibly hard to remove from the field of battle.
If Tricerastab’s owner spends all of their money while it is in their party, it can evolve into Slurpsar. While somewhat frail compared to its peers in the Prehistoric Monster Family, Slurpsar makes up for it with the arcane ability to make enemies deeply uncomfortable with the ethics behind the special effects that bring it to life, as well as giving its owner more bang for their buck by having both a high amount of energy AND using far less energy for heavy hitting attacks than most other Arkies.
Evolving from Retrorex after having a conversation about the joys of flight, Terrodactyl is a swift and deadly aerial predator, specializing in long range attacks. Its signature move allows it to carry another enemy off the ground for one turn and dropping them back into it for extreme damage. Swift and deadly, Terrodactyl makes up for its low defense and health pool by hitting fast and hard.
If Retrorex is given a book on modern paleontology, it can evolve into Rexregine. Just as hard hitting as Retrorex itself, Rexregine also has greater speed while boasting slightly weaker but still strong defenses, and can bridge the gap between close and long range with greater ease than its predecessor.
After reading scathing comments about the lack of scientific accuracy in monster movies on the internet, Rexregine can evolve into Malcoraptor, a sparsely feathered and still mostly scaly Prehistoric Monster Arky. Faster than the rest of its family by a wide margin, this creature is deadly in both close and long range, tearing its opponents apart with ease and sporting a great deal of cunning for a primeval lizard. Though it lacks the bulky health pools and defenses of its peers, it is a force to be reckoned with.
After reading a scathing note from a Hollywood producer, Rexregine can evolve into Chimaerex, a hybrid monstrosity designed to one-up all other movie dinosaurs in terms of sheer ferocity. While it is strong in both close and long range attacks, its health pool is only slightly above average, while its defenses and speed are both quite low, making it a heavy hitter that lacks staying power.
…man. Those last two kind of hit close to home. You okay there, Mr. Terror? Although I have to admit, I cracked up reading both of them.
Joking aside, I like these guys! While my tastes lean more toward the right side of family tree (sorry—I’ve grown up with therepods having seesaw bodies to the point where I can’t really picture them any other way), they’re all quite lovely, and they all have great expressions that communicate quite a bit of character. From the Brontobite laughing/hissing at its foes from up above to Malcoraptor shrieking at its foes and especially Terrordactyl with its manic cackle (you can’t tell me that thing wouldn’t cackle), they all have great expressions.
The only two I think could be improved are Tricerastab and Retrorex. For Tricerastab, I feel like either the eyebrow (or eye socket—whatever that line at the front of the eye is) should be thicker or the eye should be partially closed a little to give it an angrier expression. While it kind gets that across as is, the eyebrow at the back kind of gives the Arkie a derpy expression that I’m not sure was the intention. As for the Retrorex, I actually don’t mind it—despite my preferences, it’s a cool looking retrosaur that stands tall over the rest thanks to its more upright posture. That’s rather fitting for the king of them all! And his expression is great too—he’s a real sneaky jerk who’s just waiting to take a bite out of your hide. But I wish they had a little more of a smile or something on their face instead. Most of their fellow Arkies look like they’re having a blast! Shouldn’t their king be doing the same—or at least roaring commands out?
…I don’t know, maybe that’s just me.
Otherwise though, I like ’em. They’re loud, proud, and full of character. Looking forward to seeing more!
A few other people interpreted parts of this as, well, saltier than I intended. For the record, I was aiming for “cheeky” more than irritable here – poking a little fun at the somewhat sadomasochistic relationship between lovers of this trope and the ever changing goalpost of scientific accuracy. I genuinely love all the monsters that inspired this family – of the lot, Rexregine would actually be the one I choose for my team, and the first Arky on my team at that. The Pikachu to my Ash, if you will.
With regards to Retrorex’s grimace, that’s a reference to its two primary inspirations – the T.rex from the original King Kong, and Gwangi from the Valley of Gwangi, both of whom sported a sort of signature sneer.
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Well, chimerarex certainly has the wow factor Masrani was looking for in the movie…
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