Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: December 9, 2021
Available On: Switch (reviewed), Mobile, PC
Monster Rancher and Monster Rancher 2 originally released in the late 90’s with decent success and has gained somewhat of a cult following through its series of games. These remasters are an ideal fit for the Nintendo Switch as they are perfect for nostalgic “cozy” gaming.
These games are known for their unique way of Monster gathering by using CD’s (and DVDs later in the series). On the switch, you don’t actually need the CD in hand, you simply use a search function to find all the albums you want. I’ve generated monsters from things like Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe to John William’s Empire Strikes Back Original Soundtrack. You can also get a starter monster from the games market, though that costs in game currency, and when that money runs out, it is game over. You can get more money by winning battles and, in the first Monster Rancher, by doing training jobs.
As far as how these games hold up now, they are solidly in the “decent” category. While it’s fun to generate and raise your monster, so much of the gameplay is very hands off and out of your control. Training is fairly random as to whether it works or not, so it can be frustrating if you waste a few weeks due to failed training you had no control over. The battle system is a bit better than the training, but there’s still a lot of seemingly random factors at play. The game definitely doesn’t hold your hand, which is fine for some, but can throw off newcomers. Luckily, there are manuals and such if you search around to teach you more of the necessary controls. Seeing the different, unique monsters and their facial expressions is a joy. With very minimal effort, each monster has its own individual attitude. If you’re like me, however, in that you treat your in-game minions as your pets, you’re going to constantly get the warning about how your monster is spoiled. That can be annoying but doesn’t seem to affect gameplay much.
As far as monster collectors and battlers go, (one of my favorite genres), I’d put it somewhere in the middle. It’s well worth checking out for fans of the series and people who like the genre. For those on the fence, maybe just wait for a sale.
+ Fun collecting system with picking out CDs
+ Unique monster designs
+ Fairly straightforward gameplay
+ Decent graphics for an old game
– Too much based on luck and RNG
– Not enough interaction with your monster
– Some control mechanics not obvious
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