Monster Rancher DS Review
Monster Rancher DS box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Cing/Tecmo 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: UFO Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug. 3, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

In spite of having a wide arsenal of techniques, combat itself isn’t all that exciting. Monsters can become confused or fired up, but battles are mostly a matter of move, hit, rinse, and repeat. The animations don’t do much to spruce up scuffles, either. I was greatly disappointed that after hours of play, the combat never really evolved into anything more than a simple butting of heads.

Monster Rancher DS screenshot

When you’re not training at the ranch or mixing it up in the ring, you can visit various town sites to take on extracurricular activities or address your shopping needs. You can stop by the guide building to have your monster perform drills, which use up an entire month of their activity time. Drills consist of uber-simplistic Mario Party-style game where you roll a die and move around a game board. You can gain or lose attribute points, nab extra turns, or engage in non-tournament battles. If your monster performs well, there’s a chance it will learn a new battle technique. Like most of Monster Rancher DS’s other elements, however, drills are a barebones addition that demands little involvement from the player.

In addition to drills, monsters can go on errantry, where you’ll attempt to walk your monster along a path in search of hidden items and other wandering monsters. Neither the drills nor the errantry are all that compelling, and the payoff doesn’t always seem worth the high cost of your time, money, or your monster’s meager energy.

When it comes right down to it, there are a lot of different elements in the game that will keep your monsters busy, but there isn’t actually that much for you, the player, to be entertained by. You’ll summon a monster by either doodling on the touch screen or mumbling something into the DS’s microphone, take the creature back to the ranch, mold its lifestyle, battle it, freeze it, and then repeat the process over and over in hopes of one day unlocking S-ranked battles and becoming the ultimate monster rancher. Interaction with your monsters is minimal, and their lack of personality makes it difficult to grow attached to them.

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A humdrum presentation doesn’t really help the game much, either. The monster models look and animate fine, but the backgrounds are boring and blocky. All character interaction is done through text and still images, and the artwork is generic, not to mention uncomfortably creepy at times. As the seasons change, you’ll experience a bit of variety in terms of snow and lighting, but you’ll otherwise see the same few environments repeated throughout.

In keeping with the game’s bland visuals, the audio is also dull and repetitive. The same battle themes, ranch melodies, and sound effects are recycled constantly, and most of what’s on offer here is hokey.

Monster Rancher DS isn’t a bad game; what it does, it does fine. It’s what the game doesn’t do that left me disappointed and bored with the experience. Rather than engage the player with mini-games in order to train your monsters, you’re made to sit and watch uneventful, in-game cutscenes. The environments are cramped, uninspired, and the variety is sparse. It’s hard to imagine the same development house that gave us Hotel Dusk worked on this latest addition to the Monster Rancher series. The game does little to move the franchise forward, and except for a bit of nostalgia and some fleeting novelty, there’s little here to love.

By Tony Capri
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.0
Graphics
The monster models look good in 3D, and the animations are enjoyable. The environments are blocky, and there’s a lack of variety overall.
3.5
Control
The stylus control works well, both in and out of battle, though combat has its quirks. It’s what the game doesn’t ask of the player that may cause many to lose interest.
2.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The monsters’ blurbs are generic and uninspired, and the sparse selection of themes is trite at best.
2.5

Play Value
There’s ample variety in terms of what you can have your monsters do, but as the player, you’ll be doing a lot of watching and waiting. The game isn’t broken in any way; it just isn’t all that engaging.

2.9
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Generate Your Own Monster: Draw a picture into the “Magic Field” or speak into the microphone in “Incantation Mode” to generate a unique monster! Unlock a secret method of creating monsters as you play through the game! You can even combine your favorite monsters to create a new, more powerful monster!
  • Train To Become Legendary: Find the best strategy to raise your monster on a weekly basis by giving proper rest and training. Battle tournaments will test how good you are!
  • Bring Out The Rivalry: Check out the improved training and management features of monster breeding as well as the ability to fight rival breeders in the game!
  • Battle Rounds: Using a new battleground system, choose attack techniques that are “short,” “medium,” or “long” range, allowing for a variety of strategies. Staying out of your opponent’s range or tricking them into pulling back so they trap themselves makes each battle unique!


  • Screenshots / Images
    Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge Monster Rancher DS screenshot - click to enlarge

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