The newest addition to the growing library of monster catching/breeding games is without doubt Dragon Warrior Monsters, brought to us by Enix and Eidos Interactive for the Game Boy Color.
Dragon Warrior Monsters puts the player in charge of Terry, a young boy living with his sister Milayou. A twist of fate however, results in Milayou being kidnapped by the monster Warabou, which appeared from Terry's closet drawer. Shortly after, Watabou appears and offers to help on condition that Terry follow him. Terry is then dragged into his closet drawer and into the Kingdom of Great Tree where his adventure begins. In order to find his sister, Terry has to comply with the King of Great Tree's request to be a Monster Master and win in the Starry Night Tournament. Sounds easy? Think again, with 215 different monsters to catch and raise and an assortment of dungeons called Traveler's Gates to explore, this is going to be one long and engrossing adventure.
If you think about it, there isn't much story but the bulk and the most fun aspect of the game is catching monsters and breeding them to get more powerful monsters. There are all together 9 different classes of monsters, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and attributes. Ranging from the all famous Slimes to fire-breathing Dragons from the Dragon Warrior/Quest. For those people who played Dragon Quest 6 on the Super Famicom, they'll be in for a treat…
The graphics in the game are reasonably good and all the characters are represented with tiny sprites. Expect to see a lot of green and brown since the entire village of Great Tree is built in a tree. The portraits of the monsters are detailed and sometimes large, making larger monsters look impressive. Spell effects and animations are smooth and clear, from raging firestorms to pounding blizzards, but they tend to get repetitive after some time.
The music in the game is cheerful and the tunes heard in the Mystic World behind the Traveler's Gates add to the feeling of adventure. Due to the repetitive nature of the music, you might find yourself humming along, whether you like it or not. The sounds aren't very impressive though, with beeps in the place of growls and hisses when monsters attack. Spell sounds are much better, with crisp sounds of burning fire, stormy winds, freezing blizzards, crackling thunder and large explosions as some examples.
The controls are simple and easy to learn but with the same button used for opening up the Status Screen and talking/investigating you'd guess that it would get frustrating at times. The only other thing I'd complain about is how slow Terry walks. I'd reckoned he is lethargic or something!
The multiplayer option allows players to breed their monsters with each other and also fight for ante or just for fun. Other than that, there really isn't anything else to the multiplayer feature.
The Traveler's Gates are the dungeons in the game. These are the only places where you can encounter monsters and attempt to capture them. These dungeons are mainly randomly generated except for puzzle rooms and Boss rooms and other special rooms. To complete a dungeon, Terry has to descend all the way to the Boss' room and defeat the Boss monster for the dungeon. Terry can warp out anytime with the aid of Warp Wing if he is in trouble. Terry is allowed 20 items in his inventory and 3 monsters to go traveling with him, any extra monsters are sent to the farm. Battles are fought in a simple screen, showing your monsters' HP and MP, enemy monsters and command selection. All you have to do is set up a battle plan according to the personality of the monster and let them duke it out on their own. The other option is to manually select actions for your monster, but this will only work if they are extremely tame. All the battle actions are narrated in a dialogue box.
The game is incredibly deep, with many different Traveler's gates available and even more hidden Traveler's Gates to be found. Simple scissors, paper, stone mini-game to be played, several items to be found, mini-quests to complete, tournaments to fight in and many features like a library, farm, egg-evaluator, shrine, bazaar, storage and even a well to explore! The greatest aspect of the game, however, is Monster Breeding. With 215 monsters to collect, you can bet that breeding is going to come in sooner or later. Breeding monsters allows the player to net more powerful offspring, but the parent monsters are released back into the wild. Monsters have level caps, which mean when they reach a certain level, they can't go any further and may even miss out on some of their more powerful skills. Also, by breeding repeatedly, the level cap is raised up to the maximum of 99. If you think that is all to breeding, think again, certain rare monsters can be attained only through breeding! To make breeding even more important, the rarest few monsters require specific breeding combinations. For instance, a Divinegon can only be attained by breeding two rare Dragon type monsters together. I ain't giving any spoilers, so find out yourself! Well, with 46225 possible breeding combinations to try out, you'll know this is going to be a very long game. Come to think of it, I'm already beyond 100+ hours into the game and I'm still short 10 monsters...
For those of you who want to pass the time till Pokemon Gold/Silver arrives in US shores, or for those of you who are Dragon Warrior fans, Dragon Warrior Monsters is the game to get and you can bet it will painlessly eat away your sleeping time!