This page is going to cover the first six Monster High flash games. These games were released from the site's launch in May until the first big update on July 12th, 2010. These games were Monster Freakout (formerly known as Stack 'n' Match), Make a Monster High Album and Activity Book, Bookmark Maker, Decorate Your Monster High Locker, Registration, and Create Your Own Class Photo and Student ID.
All of these games, aside from Monster Freakout and Create Your Own Class Photo and Student ID are lost to time, so I can't provide my own screenshots for them or anything. That said, between my memory, the Wiki, and (often blurry) footage from YouTube, I can still summarize what these games were like.
screenshot taken from Numuki
The game at startup
This was the first EVER monster High game and, according to the wiki, was added on July 11th, 2010. However, there's an older page in the Wayback Machine's archives under games called "Stack 'N Match" from back in May. While the captures in 2010 were largely broken, if you follow the capture from 2011, it redirects you to Monster Freakout, thus basically confirming that it's the same game, just renamed. But I digress.
Characters pop up after combos to cheer you on
Monster Freakout was a fairly simple card game, probably in the Solitaire family. Your goal is to clear a 3x3 grid of cards by making pairs, usually by adding new cards on top of the base ones. Things get tricky when your available cards don't match any on the board, though, because then you have to slap them down and HOPE the next one you get is one that can be used for a pair (and doesn't match whichever card you just covered up!). Another challenge comes in the form of mystery cards which you don't know the identity of until you set them on the board, meaning SOMETIMES (but not usually) they can lead to awesome combos. I don't think that they're predetermined, but it's basically impossible to time it just right to get your desired card, so usually they just take up more space. It's honestly a lot easier to show someone the gameplay than to explain it. The current version of Ruffle (as of writing) can't actually play it, but for all three of us who are using the ole "outdated open-source browser + outdated version of Flash" trick, the game has been archived online.
A random character congratulates you at the end, but the message is always the same. I've gotten Draculaura, Clawdeen, Lagoona, and Frankie before.
This game has got to be based on an actual Solitaire game, but I can't find a real life equivalent. The closest game I could find was Monte Carlo, but that still isn't as close of a match as I would have liked. Unfortunately, the game's title also gives no hints as to what it could be and there are literally dozens if not hundreds of types of Solitaire games out there.
Overall, Monster Freakout wasn't the best of games, but I suppose that for a site that was just getting its feet on the ground, they could have done a whole lot worse. I understand why I barely remembered playing it, though, as I'm highly unlikely to ever willingly seek it out again after this deep dive is over.
MAKE A MONSTER HIGH ALBUM AND ACTIVITY BOOK
credit: Monster High wiki
This game was created to promote the iCoffin. No, not like the ones in the show. I think I would have killed to have a fully functioning official Monster High smartphone. The actual iCoffin was basically an LCD game system. It allowed players to "text" the Monster High characters, play games, and "more," according to the Amazon listing. What "more" means in this context, I couldn't tell you. It also featured a flip-out keyboard because it was 2010 and if you were a preteen then, those were all the rage. Sadly, not a lot seems to be documented about the toy, so we'll never know exactly what gossip and drama was contained inside. Tragic.
So, how does this relate to this "game?"
credit: Monster High wiki
Well, in order to unlock all the pages for the game, you needed to unlock codes by playing on the iCoffin. That's it. Otherwise, you only got access to four out of the twenty-four pages. Oh, but you also could just use URL manipulation to get to those other pages, apparently.
With all that out of the way, let's crack this book open!
credit: Monster High wiki
The beginning of the book notably makes it seem like this book is going to be all about you and creating your monster persona. There are pages where you get to fill in what your school schedule would be and your very own Monster High bio! Of course, I think a lot of kids would already be working on their monster-sona's bio since pretending you were a student at Monster High was what the site was all about by the time this game came out. The rest of the book is much less exciting. It's mostly filled with puzzles for small children. The most straightforward maze I've ever seen, matching games, a couple of crossword puzzles, scrambled word puzzles, etc. There are posters of the ghoulfriends with little slogans, which is kind of cool I guess. There's also a couple of pages that tie back into the you-at-Monster-High concept, like one where you draw your monster pet and another where you can either draw or glue a picture of yourself "SO YOU CAN HANG OUT WITH THE MONSTER HIGHTM FRIENDS!"
If for some reason you are so inclined to download the images, I recommend just going to the wiki to get them instead of trying to find a working build. Or just go to this link to find the WayBack Machine's archived versions of the pages. Just change the number at the end of the url from 0 to any number from 1 to 20 to get another page. "Pg0" contains the first four pages.
credit: the Monster High wiki
This was yet another game that acted as a promotion for the iCoffin.
This one at least had a little more interactivity on the digital front instead of feeling like it was something that they DEFINITELY could have sold as an actual product in the Dollar Store check out lines. Because let's be honest with ourselves: that's where the booklet from the Album and Activity Book game belonged.
The bookmark maker was exactly what it sounds like: a tool to make little bookmarks. Bonus points if you print them out for use while reading the novels.
credit: taken from a video by Bailey Margret
At age 11 I was already making my own bookmarks by slapping together images in MS Paint and printing them out on cardstock, so having a custom bookmark wasn't exactly mindblowing to me. But there's an element of customization with these that you aren't going to get from your everyday, run of the mill PNGs, since you get to create a mutant mashup of Frankie, Draculaura, Clawdeen, and/or Lagoona in the game. And that's a bit out of most tweens' skillsets.
The art style for the characters is made to look like the Monster High Friends plushies, ragdoll versions of each character that came with their pets (also in ragdoll form). As a kid, I wasn't really drawn to these as much as the fashion dolls. As an adult, I still would pick the dolls if I had to choose, but I see a lot more appeal in these gals now! They perfectly toe the line between being adorable while also being a liiiiiittle unsettling (no thanks to Coraline forever being in the public consciousness). I especially think that making a ragdoll of Frankie was clever since she's already sewn together. It's so fitting!
Or a screenshot from YouTube...
credit: taken from a video by cutekitten554
Sadly, I couldn't find a version of this game that actually worked. The Internet Archive's version was improperly saved and unplayable. All other websites that actually bothered to host it seem to also be unplayable for a variety of reasons. It's lost media now. A damn shame since my plans were to actually print the bookmark and use it when I read the books. I guess a low-res screenshot some lovely person on DeviantArt too of the Frankie bookmark will have to suffice this time.
Well, if you can ever find it, here's a guide to how to make the monster mash-up of your dreams!
DECORATE YOUR MONSTER HIGH LOCKER
FINALLY we get to a game that wasn't to promote the stupid iCoffin thing. You don't know how long I've waited to-
What's that? ANOTHER one where you enter codes? The only difference is that this time it was made to promote the fashion dolls? And there STILL was a code on the iCoffin?!
I think someday historians will look back at our capitalistic, microtransaction fueled hellscape and wonder "where did it all go wrong?" And I'll tell you where: the minute we started making silly little web games for kids have any sort of monetary aspect to them. Granted, it's not as bad as games that were entirely online made by media conglomerates that were presented as free and then were barely functional unless you paid subscription fees (cough cough cough Club Penguin making you pay if you want to do practically anything cough cough cough), but it still rubs me the wrong way.
Anyway, at least this game featured more customization than the finite number of combinations you could put together for the bookmark game (256 variations, which sounds like a lot, but it really isn't for a game focused on customization).
Sadly, though, this game ALSO seems to be lost to the sands of time. This one is a bit less sad, though, because the concept was used again in the video game Ghoul Spirit. And this time without even having to buy all the dolls.
Strangely, the Wayback Machine seems to have managed to capture most of if not all the individual .swf files that made up this game, but not the page that put them all together. From this, you can see what stickers were in the game at the very least.
After months of waiting and seeing that registration would be "coming soon," on July 12th, the Monster High website was fully launched. The wait was over. So what were you greeted with when you created an account on the website?
A personality quiz.
A. Personality. Quiz.
As if every kid keeping up to date wasn't already looking over the character profiles to figure out who they were most like anyway! (I thought I was a Ghoulia and then when she was barely present, I changed my answer to being more of a Frankie and I stand by that for now because I am boring and accident prone and not as smart as I thought I was).
Like a lot of the early "games," this one seems to be lost. That's not helped by the fact that typing in "Monster High Registration quiz" only gives you unofficial quizzes and even if you only allow results that include the word "registration," the results are still going to just include any website where you can create an account. And sometimes even ones advertising that you can't! That said, though, it was documented heavily on the wiki. It wouldn't be hard with a little know-how to recreate the quiz (save for the tiebreaker) using HTML and Java. And if I get bored, I just might.
The most interesting thing of note? It implies that Frankie's favorite food after she gathers enough information will be... hot dogs. Well, it says frankfurters but same difference. Oh, and possibly implies that there are olives in Greek Monster Fusion.
CREATE YOUR OWN CLASS PHOTO AND STUDENT ID CARD
Of all the early games to be preserved, it doesn't surprise me that this was the one to be saved. And it's still as disappointing now as it was in July, 2010.
It might sound like I'm being harsh towards a free game made for kids. And I am! But that's because Mattel had set standards for what their makeover games were like and those were in the same vein as the class photo maker. I mean, the MyScene makeover game remains fondly remembered and iconic to this day. And even though the games could be a little lacking in being able to completely customize your girl's features, the Barbie makeover games had featured sliders for a while that would let you pick from a range of colors instead of just a handful. Combine that with all the outrageous possibilities of creating a MONSTER HIGH character and the stunning promotional artwork and I had high hopes as a kid. My hopes were a more curbed as an adult and I was expecting something a lot more simple, but still versatile and with cute characters more akin to the web series.
So then we get to the ID Maker.
The ID Maker gives you the option to upload a photo of yourself into the game. Unfortunately, as with all games that let you do this, the result is going to be uncanny. And we're here to see ourselves as a Monster High student, rather than just in a picture frame. Luckily, the game gives you the option to choose from a few monster faces. There are three female and three male options. Only two of the female options look good (meanwhile the male options are all comically ugly), but they still don't really match the art style of the webisodes. They look more like knockoffs with their proportions wrong, including going from their lips looking full to looking beestung.
After you upload your photo or choose your face, you get to customize the color, allowing you to tint your photo. But here's the issue: the color spectrum you use to color the photo is, for the most part, overly saturated and at full brightness. You can choose slightly diluted or shaded tones and you can get the cursor to glitch off of the box and choose a singular shade of brown, but you're screwed if you wanted your avatar to be pastel like the main characters. And the color spectrum is also too narrow to include pinks that even are brightly colored and managed to skip over true cyan entirely somehow because there's only room here for ROY G BP (no indigo to be seen, either).
So now that you've come to terms with the fact that the character you wanted to make a soft pink is going to have to be tomato red, what's next? Well, you get to choose your skin. Are any of them going to match the face you just picked? Hell no! None of the colors are even close to what you can color the face. What's more, a lot of them are overly detailed or otherwise... off. Like the full body wraps if you want to be a mummy. I also still have no idea what some of them are even supposed to be. There's one that I think is a fuzzy werewolf that looks more like tree bark and one that's just covered in loopdy loops. Hope you enjoy being a simulacrum or a zombie because those are the only options that look okay. And no, you can not change your skin color.
Now you get to choose your hair. For the most part, the styles available are those of the ghoulfriends. Again, no recoloring is allowed. Also, if they have some monster feature on their head (like Draculaura's pointy ears), you better learn to accept it as part of your design, too. What, you wanted to make a sea monster with brown curls? Nope! Now they're a hybrid, except that wouldn't even be a thing in canon for another four years, so good luck explaining that one to your friends without them yelling at you that that's cheating and you need to just pick one kind of monster!
The shirt options aren't anything egregious. Just really boring and totally unfashionable for a series that was always so stylish. They're largely based on things that background characters wear, but the early background characters were not exactly stylish.
Before adding a background, you get to complete your look by adding some drag and drop accessories. All I can say about those is... God help you if you were trying to make earrings that were the same scale.
The backgrounds even manage to be somewhat disappointing because I thought that if there was ONE upside to this game, it would be that I could mine the background patterns and save them for use on this site. I managed to save the plaid from a different part of the game (even if it needs some editing), but the files for the backgrounds themselves are compressed to hell and back, making them gritty and just overall nasty.
For your ID card, you can randomly generate a monster name for yourself, but none of them are very good. Which is par for the course at this point. Alternatively, you can enter your first and last name and have a name generated based on your initials. There's a first and last name for each letter of the alphabet, so there's a total of 676 possible names.
Overall, a bitter disappointment even twelve years later.
Luckily, around 2013 when the site was revamped, it would include a new avatar system that seems a lot cooler and let players create their own profiles! Unfortunately, I was too busy with real high school at that point to try out this version of the website, and since it was directly tied to having an account, it's something that can't be replicated with the Wayback Machine.
Honestly, whoever thinks that Mattel for Kids is more appealing to children than ANY iteration of the Monster High website or the Barbie website before it was turned app-y (and then into its current incarnation which is just a store) had to have been hatched in a lab as a 40 year old businessman because I refuse to believe they were ever a child.
And now for a break from the games! If you're just interested in reading about the games, you can go back to the website index. But if you're interested in reading the deep dive in its intended order, we're going to look at some other media that'll give you some context for the next set of games. The next ones are mostly based on other media, mostly webisodes, so stay tuned for more!