Game: Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX
Genre: Role-Playing, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam (Windows) iOS)
Developers | Publishers: KOEI TECMO AMERICA
Age Rating: US Teen | EU 12+
Price: US $29.99 | UK £24.99 | EU 29,99
Release Date: December 9th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to KOEI TECMO.
PlayStation-era cult classic Monster Rancher was announced by Koei Tecmo earlier this year, and it is now set for a release on Nintendo Switch and Steam. Monster Rancher and Monster Rancher 2 games were originally released on the PSOne in 1997 and 1999. The updated edition is both Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX bundled together.
Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX
The Monster Rancher series brought a unique gameplay gimmick to the original PlayStation. Like Pokémon, both titles revolved around collecting and raising monsters to battle. However, deeper progression is required for players to breed these monsters to create a more powerful monster.
Once you start either game after creating the characters, you will be asked ten personality questions to determine the type of trainer you are. You have an onscreen assistant who will keep you in the right direction to be the best trainer possible. I found both assistants to be a little annoying as they kept interrupting me when I wanted to do something in the game.
Most Monster Rancher 1 & 2 are menu-based, except for the battles. Life, power, defence and other stats for your monsters can be raised or lowered by having them perform various tasks and training. Tasks involve sending your monster to do various jobs. Such as pulling a cart, working in the field or hunting prey.
Once they have finished their task, they earn money, and their stats rise or fall depending on the task and how well they did. You can raise a unique monster by praising your monsters for their successes and scolding them as needed. I didn’t particularly like scolding my monster; that seemed a little cruel to me.
Both Monster Rancher games are stat-based, with a good chunk of luck thrown in. There are two different options for fighting, each with its benefits. Beginner players will want to let the monster fight all by himself, with no input from the player. Seasoned players can control their monsters in battles themselves. If you choose to control the monster, fighting can be tricky, but it’s also possible to win fights against higher-class monsters if you get good at it.
Where Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX gets serious, though, is that the monsters that you raise, train, and battle with, will eventually pass away. They die as they get older as you progress through the game, becoming unable to take the strain of the training and exploring and battling. Your monster dying will happen whether or not they are at the highest level or have gotten the highest rank at the tournaments or were in tip-top health.
There are a couple of ways to receive monsters in both Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX games. First, you can go to town and visit the market to get a basic type of monster. Or visit the Shrine to use a unique mechanic to receive a monster.
The original Monster Rancher 1 & 2 boasted a unique mechanic in how you received a new monster. Instead of catching them in the wild or hatching them from eggs, monsters were summoned from discs that you found in-game as well as CDs that you had around your house.
Since the Switch isn’t CD-based, KOEI TECMO has thought up a new way to receive new monsters. You can connect to the internet and find the music you are looking for using a search facility, then use the database of thousands of songs to choose from that pops up.
I enjoyed this portion of both games the most. From old cheesy pop songs to modern-day pop songs, any song I could think of is there to choose from. Once you pick a song and watch the animated cut scene, a new monster appears before your eyes. Sometimes the monsters I got from the database were rather weird-looking; others looked liked dinosaurs.
There are more ways to train your monster in Monster Rancher 1, but only a few ways to teach it new attacks. Monster Rancher 2 is the opposite. By sending monsters on Errantries and into battles, it gains experience in fights and exploring new lands, enabling it to learn many more attacks.
Since both games are from years ago, you can’t expect updated graphics. However, Monster Rancher 1 has 2D monsters, and Monster Rancher 2 is in 3D and a lot more colourful. The monsters are also better animated in the second game. All the monsters make some kind of noise, from grunting to squealing noises; it’s all here.
Unfortunately, the controls during battles felt a little flaky and not quite what you’d expect. The L shoulder button and the R shoulder button move your Monster back and forth in the ring. The D-pad and buttons select attacks from a menu in real-time. It just didn’t feel like my monster was moving during battles as much as I would have liked it too.
Do you remember Tamagotchi, a keychain-sized virtual pet simulation game? That’s what both Monster Rancher games remind me of. Not all players will enjoy both these games, especially players who aren’t into retro games. But for those that like the retro look-and-feel while playing games and want a trip down memory lane then you will find that in Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX. If you’re into virtual pets and battles, this is one of the best games to play to get your fix.
Final Verdict: I Like It