Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX, review of Koei Tecmo’s classic for Switch, PC and mobile



The review of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX, the return on Nintendo Switch, PC and mobile of the monsters to breed, between nostalgia and some faults

The younger ones, finding on the screen of their smartphones the review of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX, will probably wonder: “and what the heck are they?” This is not a generational controversy: unlike Pokémon, Digimon and a few other well-known names, Monster Rancher was an intense, but very fleeting, phenomenon in Italy. You probably remember above all the anime series, broadcast in our country during 2001, and articulated in two very pleasant seasons. Hardly you know, however, that the entire franchise began not with the cartoon, but with a series of video games extremely prolific, which now boasts fourteen titles.

Now, the first Monster Rancher for PlayStation 1 did not even arrive in Italy: Monster Rancher 2, however, yes, thanks to a wise commercial operation that approached the animated series. In the stores, in the period 2000 – 2003, it was easy to find themed toys. Given that we live in an era marked by the “nostalgia factor”, could perhaps miss a nice Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX, considering among other things the first twenty-five candles blown out by Genki and company?

The package including the two remastered titles is now available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Android, iPhone and iPad. Let’s go ahead and find out how they fared in our review of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX.

Collect monsters

Here is your Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX ranch

The main purpose of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX is to collect monsters, which has always led players to compare this series to the various Pokémon and Digimon. In reality, the comparison is more sensible with the latter than with the former, because at a closer look at the game modes and strategies are profoundly different from those of Game Freak’s little monsters. It is true that in Monster Rancher, regardless of the chapter of the saga, it is rewarding to discover all the specimens hidden by the developers, and own each of them in their ranch at least once. Then, however, you also have to take care of them, as in an extremely more complex and varied version of the classic Tamagochi.

There is even a plot, as anime fans will know. The monsters live with humans since relatively recent times. Many centuries ago a series of disasters devastated the supercontinent, before it separated into the current ones: men asked God for help. The latter – we do not know why – created new life forms to help men: the monsters, in fact. But in the end even the monsters started to make a lot of trouble and wars, and then God, rightly impatient, sealed them in circular stone disks.

The clashes of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX look like this

Years and years later, when even the memory of these events had been lost, men have rediscovered the stone disks, discovered how they work and brought the monsters back to life, organized farms, ranches and tournaments based on them.

The player’s goal, therefore, is first to obtain a new monster, breed it within his own, brand new ranch, then follow it in its debut in the official competitions held at certain times of the month. The long-term objective is to obtain all the monsters, especially the most powerful ones, and to triumph in the four most prestigious and difficult tournaments in the world, thus becoming the breeder par excellence. Certainly not an easy task, but – as always – more important than the objective is the journey.

Gameplay: from the stables to the stars

From the ranch of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX you can access a series of secondary activities (limited)

The path proposed by Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX is from the stables to the stars: train your monsters, initially unknown and very weak, and then make them become real champions, powerful and known to the general public. The management of the ranch, in which consists most of the gameplay, is entrusted to decisions made taking into account the passage of time: each week of each month can be “occupied” with a single task. You can force your monster to participate in specific trainings, make him rest, reward him with food, or take him directly to the arena. The important thing is to remember that every time we choose one of these actions a week passes. In all of this, the activities have costs and can reward you with a certain amount of money: so it’s good to constantly keep an eye on your finances.

Obviously the choice of an activity instead of another must be motivated. Each monster has some parameters (attack, defense, ability, health, power, and so on), which can be increased (or decreased) just by doing particular tasks. Going to work in a way or helping the city letter carriers with deliveries increase, respectively, different parameters, which must be studied always keeping in mind the specific monster available. And clearly one should not stress the partner too much, because he/she might get sick or depressed, thus ending up in the hospital (this leads to the loss of several weeks in a row).

Tournaments are, now as then, one of the most interesting moments of Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX. To excel is not at all easy, even at the lowest levels of category (E); moreover, battles represent the most dynamic offer of the production. In a few seconds you have to decide whether to attack or defend yourself, whether to approach or move away from the enemy, within a 3D environment with very limited movements (the monsters move along a horizontal line). Not even the time factor is negligible: if the timer expires, the winner is the monster in possession, at that moment, of the greatest health. Winning a tournament means accumulating money and fame, thus favoring the progression of your companion.

A somewhat underwhelming return

You understand well that in Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX, visually, we are stopped at the time of the PlayStation 1

The return of Monster Rancher 1 and 2 within the Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX package immediately appears a bit underwhelming. Basically, the developers have taken the titles published in the late nineties on the first PlayStation enriching a few textures here and there, revising a little ‘resolution inside the arena and wrapping everything with a splash of high definition. On balance, the work turns out to be extremely lazy and conservative: qualitatively we find ourselves almost grappling with the exact same titles of twenty-five years ago. We gladly overlook the grainy and ugly movies because they are left completely to themselves, and the language of the game, only English; a minimum adaptation, even if amateur, certainly would not have led the publisher to bankruptcy.

Of course, Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX has never been presented as a remake, so it was absurd to expect both games remade from scratch: apart from the new menus and loading times almost eliminated, there is very little else of current or modern to note. Completely absent, for obvious reasons, even the mechanics of obtaining monsters linked to the use of CDs and DVDs. In fact, you will remember how in the first Monster Rancher was possible to use CDs to be inserted manually into the console, to unlock then different monsters, simulating a bit ‘the mechanics of the disks of the monsters in stone. Nowadays, CDs are hardly used anymore, and certainly not on Steam, Nintendo Switch, iPhone, and iPad; too bad the manual insertion system of disc titles and song authors isn’t as rewarding. So all that’s left is to buy monsters where possible at the city market in the main city, or combine the ones we already own to get more powerful ones.

Comment

Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX is an operation related to nostalgia and little more. There is really no good reason to buy a package like this, if not to have loved to madness, at the time, the Monster Rancher of the first PlayStation (which was the Monster Rancher 2 published in Japan, because here the very first title has never arrived, but so be it). Qualitatively speaking, we speak of a remaster really underwhelming and this is a shame because of arrows in his bow Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX would have several: collection, breeding, fighting, simulation, there would be a little ‘for all tastes, premised the obvious limitations of titles originally published over twenty years ago. Evaluate therefore you a possible recovery. Considering that there are no limitations whatsoever between the various versions, we would tend to recommend those related to portability, then for Nintendo Switch, Android, iPhone and iPad. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that just the breeding of monsters is your future. Since Pokémon, it seems to be a growing market.

PRO

  • Two games for the price of one
  • The first Monster Rancher finally arrives in the West
  • Hours and hours of play
  • Pretty lazy restoration
  • The games are practically identical
  • The series has been dead for a long time
  • Have you noticed any errors?
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.