Name: Monster Rancher (55.00% in 2 votes)
Release date: 1997
Reviewed by: Picky
By now you've probably heard of Tamagotchis, right? Well, what if I were to tell you there is a game that lets you raise 1 of 250 critters, train them, and then explote them by making them fight for you. I'd be telling you about Monster Rancher(Monster Farm in Japan), a game that was a strong seller in the face of FFVII and has some unique twists to the idea of virtual pet care.
To begin your quest to become a MASTER BREEDER, the first thing you have to do is get one. There are two ways of doing this. going to the MARKET or going to the SHRINE. By going to the market, you have a limited selection(three so-so monsters), but you know what your getting. On the other hand, going to the shrine means you get to pop in your favorite audio, PC, or PSX CD-ROM and see what critter rears its head from it. If not satsified, you can go to the market and ditch the little monster, or go to the lab to freeze it. Why should you do this. Well, tha main reason for selling off monsters you don't like, and no you don't get cash or anything for them, is because monsters are so much work, you can only raise them one at a time. Freezing them at the lab accomplishes the same goal, but space is limited at the lab, so weeding loser monsters is essential, hey it is a BUISNESS after all! While you are fooling around at the lab, you can combine 2 of your monsters into a new monster. You can use objects you've bought or found, or even won at breeders tournaments to help determine what monster you get out of the combination. Some monsters can only be gotten through genetic manipulation.
So after you've named and taken your little cash maker home, it is time to feed it. You have 3 choices every month from which to choose the monster's meal, vegetables, (which monsters hate), fish(normal), or meat on stick(a monster's dream feast). After your done stuffing food down the little moster's throat, it is time to send him to work or to train. Work is slower than training, but you get paid for it. Training is intensive and effective, but very expenesive. When your monster starts to feel the effects of hard work and/of training, you can rest him or keep him working. This brings up loyalty. Loyalty determines how receptive the monster is to your commands during combat, the higher it is, the more monster will listen. Not all the things at the ranch deal directly with your pet. The item store sells things that will help your pet, let you get rid of junk you've collected, and well, come to think of it, everything does revolve around your pet! ;) Once you've gotten a monster to a combat ranking of C, a guy in funny clothing comes along and takes your monster on fablulous trips to find old stuff that can be used to help your current monster, or unlock some more of those hidden monsters.
Now we've come to the meat of the monster, combat. Monsters come in three varieties when it is all said and done, physical attackers, spell slingers, and a mix of the previous two. Physical attackers don't always just hammer you hard, they sometimes are those dancing bunny types that land one punch and dodge to victory. Spell slingers sometimes have one hands on attack that is devistaing to either the will power of the monster, or that just rocks the other monsters world, and the middle men, are mixed again. Now that we've gotten the types of monster fighters we have, let us take a look a combat itself. Combat takes place in a bowl arena with the yokels watching and rooting for their favorite monster. When the tournament grid shows up, it shows and X or O in the square where the two monster's names meet, an X meaning a loss and an O meaning victory. When your at this screen, you'll see your bright eyed assistant offer a menu that will give you advice on the opponent, details on your opponent, and the assistant's advice. When you've gone over the stats and feel your monster will be harmed by its opponent, you can withdraw your monster from the match. If you feel your monster can win, then the game asks you if you want to control your monster, or if you want the monster to judge for itself.
Whatever you decided to that question, it is now on to the battle sequence! Remeber how I told you about loyaly and how much your monster has for you will determine how much it listens to you, well the same goes for other monsters as well. The battle display is done like a strategy game, with the level of loyalty displayed, the amount of willpower(points used when executing battle moves), moves your monster knows, and a life bar to show just how much it takes to beat your monster down. The battle is done in 2D, right and left on the D-pad moves your monster to the right or left, the square button is the "Scare" button that makes your monster posture to scare his opponent back a bit, and the X button is the confirmation button. The combat is only 60 seconds and is not turn based, so you have to keep you eys on both your opponenet and your meters. There are four ranges of attacks, and each range can have more than one move for it. Each move also has a different hit or miss ratio and depending on your monster's natural apptitude and your training, he might never miss, or he could only hit thin air. The attacks also have higher drains on willpower, depending on type(mental or physical), and level(a level one usually doesn't require as much as a level two). Once the battle is won, lost, or drawn, the fight process continues until your tournament winner has been crowned.
Overall, this game is very entertaining and quite novel. The sound is adequate, although the musical score sounds liek something stolen off the Smurfs. The graphics are nice, while some monsters look plain, others look beautiful. The controls are solid and work very well. The final verdict from Picky: 9 out of 10. A must rent if not a buy!
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