|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Koei||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Koei||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 12, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As basic as the concept is, races are a great little blast of fun. Speed boosts and other power-ups keep things interesting, and though normal races aren't terribly challenging, you'll still need to put your best foot forward in order to come out on top. There are coins scattered along each track as well, which you'll use to buy equipment and healing items for your monsters. The entire RPG/monster-racing package is presented in a way that's smart and fun.
Our only real complaint with the game has to do with the lack of track variety in a given locale. Generally speaking, you'll be racing along the same exact track when racing wild monsters, with an additional track presented when racing against human challengers. However, the game requires almost no level-grinding, so one trip through a given dungeon is usually enough to ready your creatures for any tournaments that lie ahead.
There are a healthy number of little extras that ought to help keep players entertained during lulls in racing. Collecting crystals for an unnamed king will land you prized gear, and orbs found in dungeons allow you to customize the color of your monsters. Additionally, there are a handful of multiplayer options that will likely be a boon for more competitive players.
In terms of presentation, Monster Racers' overworld visuals look a bit dated, but there's scarcely an out-of-place pixel to be found. The entire game has a very tidy and playful look about it, and the character images that pop up during conversations are often laugh-out-loud comical. All of the artwork is 2D, including the races, which are fairly pretty to look at. There's a good bit of variety from region to region, not to mention a fairly sizeable collection of monsters to encounter; they all animate nicely to boot.
The music is a bit generic, though admittedly, it all works quite well for the premise and motif that make up the game. The sound effects, however, are a real treat. Whether you're perusing the menus or visiting the shops, there are a lot of fun, little touches throughout the game that make the audio package stand out.
Monster Racers is, without a doubt, formulaic and shamelessly unoriginal when it comes to its presentation. That being said, the whole monster-racing thing is addictive and fun. The characters and production values are like candy you can't stop nibbling on. The game lacks the variety and depth of, say, Pokémon, and there are some fetch-questy, hide-and-seeky moments that are tedious and slightly frustrating. On the whole, however, Monster Racers runs a clean race that should be a big hit with the younger gaming crowd. When I wasn't playing Monster Racers, I was ready to pick it back up and grind out a few more races. To me, that speaks volumes about a game's ultimate value.
CCC Freelance Writer