|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus USA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus USA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb.19, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
RPGs are great in every form and fashion. Whether you like the classic turn based or the newer full active battle system, all of us are prone to their mesmerizing storylines and complex characters. Atlus has definitely brought along a mesmerizing storyline, but is that all? Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner is an achievement that some of us have been waiting for, an RPG for the PSP that is decent and not just another port. This is great news for the PSP owners out there that need a fix on some good RPG action while they travel. The downside is that Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner may not be what you have been looking and waiting for.
The story revolves around Jewel Summoners. Jewel Summoners can summon monsters trapped in jewels, but must undergo strict training. That is where the main character, Vice, comes in. When his mother is slain, Vice takes it upon himself to find the abomination that took his mother's life. He inherits a charm that belonged to his mother and, through this, is granted the ability to summon a monster named Shateen that travels along beside you throughout the game. Along the way, you will meet other Jewel Summoners to accompany you in your quest to avenge your mother's death. Oh, and you will do a lot of talking.
You will start out with a very basic introduction to the battle system. The town of Aleh Muza has an abomination problem they have asked Vice to take care of , and you have to complete this task to get the game rolling. The battle system is a very basic turn based system. You will be told whose turn is next on a "rotating wheel of combat," at least that is what I call it, a handy bonus found at the bottom of your screen. The commands you start out with are your basics - regular attack and an elemental attack. Later in the game, the battle system will allow up to three characters on screen to battle one to three abominations. Each character you control will be able to summon a monster. While the health bar represents the life of the character, your magic bar represents that of the monster you have summoned. The one annoying thing I found about the battle screen is the split between your characters and the abominations you fight. This is something I was not expecting, and something I could not believe they had done. Personally, it was distracting and took a little away from the backgrounds and overall appeal of the game. Oh, and you will do a lot of talking.
One of the things that makes Monster Kingdom unique is that the monsters you can summon are strictly elemental based. All of the monsters in the game belong to one of the eight elemental categories and battles quickly become a graphically trumped up version of the card game WAR. Realizing how this would probably become stale, Atlus gave the monsters the abilities to learn attacks and abilities from other elements making them more of an asset than a nuisance. You can do this by fusing your monster with a piece of quartz. By doing this you can make the battles more interesting than what they actually are.
Although this is pointless, changing around the monsters' abilities takes an incredible amount of time, and the battles are incredibly easy. Since most of the dungeons you traipse around in do not offer a variety of monsters, you can easily setup a good offense that creates a perfect defense with ease. If you do happen to get into trouble, you will find the dungeons littered with save points that revive your entire party. Overall, this removes the tension while maneuvering through dungeons, but it also makes each battle you encounter become quickly redundant. It almost made me wish that the controls were not as good as they are so that it would become more of a challenge. Alas, the controls were very responsive and fit very well on the PSP. Oh, and you will do a lot of talking.
The characters are sharp in the truest anime sense. The designs are sleek and bright in color. While the environments during the battles could have been a little more vibrant or detailed, all in all, Monster Kingdom is very sharp looking. The voice acting is spot on as well. At times, the voice actors will help you really believe in their delivery of the dialogue. However, have I mentioned that you will do a lot of talking? In case I have not, you will. In fact you will spend the majority of the first five hours doing nothing but walk here-talk, fight an abomination-talk, go over here-talk, I think you get my drift. Accompanying this already nauseating onslaught of dialogue, some of the characters will at times feel like they are just talking to talk, badly at that. The abundance of dialogue becomes so irritating you will even grow weary of the music in the background since it will play as long as the characters continue to converse.
On a plus side, for the multiplayers among us, Monster Kingdom does not disappoint. You will be able to link up with another player and trade, collect, and even battle the monsters you find. This is probably one of the more interesting things about this game. If for no other reason than to brag about skill and defeats, you should definitely try this out, at least once.
Aside from the lengthy dialogue and simplistic gameplay, you should play this title for the story. I know what you are thinking, it sounds like any other half-cocked RPG that has bombarded the market within the last few years. The thing about Monster Kingdom is its simplicity. For any up-and-coming RPG fan, you could play this and prepare yourself for the coming barrage of titles that will consume your months. For everyone else that has the notch holes in their belt from years of RPGs, if you can get past the droll, lengthy dialogue, Monster Kingdom is the simplest guilty pleasure you can find on the PSP and truly enjoy.
CCC Freelance Writer