Monster Rancher (MR) is part of the series that, rightly or wrongly, has had to compete with Pokémon Clone Day since its first release in 1997.
Nevertheless, ranch samples became legally popular for a while between the end of the 1990s and the end of the 2000s.
The gameplay tricks that have defined the series, such as the ability to create monsters by changing the Monster Rancher game disc from a CD or DVD, are among the favorite features. Man, even one-eyed Suezo feels like a real ’90s blue mascot.
But this series is always watched with love, and Koei Tecmo announced that they will soon release an updated version of the first Monster Rancher in Japan.
And so it seems that it’s time to look back at all the Monster Rancher games and see how they all add up. Note that the games that I have included in the review are only those that have been developed on consoles and have also been released to the North American public. This means that there will not only be games for Japan, and the less is said about the mobile version of 2011, the better!
So, are you ready for the radical ’90s? Because here is my ranking of all the Monster Rancher games, which goes back to the original PS1 until today.
12. Hop-a-Lot Rancher Sample (PlayStation)
Nothing says that about a popular series of video games such as a licensed racing game. Unless… This isn’t a go-kart race.
The only race you have to run is against yourself and the lap time you have to win. And all this by controlling the avatar of the monster, which moves like a steroid runner.
It makes sense if the players have Suezo, with his sensual eyeball and all, under control. But that the monsters on the hind legs do a jumping animation instead of letting them walk?
I don’t know about you, but it seems cruel.
Although I have nothing against derivative games, it’s very easy to imagine what this game would look like if Tecmo had just gone the normal way with the racing cart mascots.
11. Monster Lunch Young Explorers (Game Boy)
Speaking of derivative games that do not quite match the original Whodathunk Solomon’s Club franchise, of all the games from the 80s on the NES, the most incomprehensible is the one that has been redesigned with the Monster Rancher license?
For those unfamiliar with Solomon’s Club, the gameplay simply consists of guiding your avatar to get the key by scrolling sideways through different levels of the dungeon. Enemies block the progress of the player, and a single touch of them results in immediate death.
To be honest, the reason I couldn’t improve this action-puzzle player is that it doesn’t contain any of the elements that the Monster Rancher series is known for.
In any case, it is easy to imagine that this can be transferred to smartphones.
10. Monster Ranger Battle Card Episode 2 (PlayStation)
Oh, yeah, here’s another one I can paste under the cliche of videogame number 274: Run the game so that the editor has the right to map out themes when ordering the game.
And, hey, almost every media power in Japan did it, so why not?
This can also be a good example of how the main hook of the series – creating monsters via analogue CDs – has shown how it can be applied to a game that has nothing to do with breeding; instead of monsters, players get Decks.
The most important thing connecting the dots here is not inspired by the user interface and the animation. Everything in the game is so barren with dice that it’s hardly a financial incentive for PlayStation.
I’m barely speaking because there’s at least a tilt mechanism in there.
9. GB Monster Child Battle Card
However, the unclear user interface of the game is more understandable because it works with the Game Boy. Think about it: If this were to happen in this decade, it would be for a smartphone and not to teleport itself via a 160 x 144 LCD screen.
This game also includes one of the strangest introductions you’ve ever seen: Players receive their starting sets according to the personality test they had to take at the beginning.
This not only exposes players to a new type of card game, but it is also their first success in passing the Myers Briggs personality test. Awesome. Awesome.
8. Monster Rancher DS (Nintendo DS)
No wonder Monster Rancher was the last major release on the Nintendo DS. Both are known to have weird things, although one has a better history than the other (I mean Nintendo, just in case it isn’t clear enough).
In 2010, players in this cycle used a DS Touch Screen and/or microphone to create samples.
Unfortunately, this is not enough to hide the process of creating randomly generated creatures, because you can literally draw or say anything and come up with a creation that looks like… You know, like a sewer sample.
Today it is often regarded as the last breath of the series before the informal break.
7. Game Boy Advance Monster Rancher
In contrast, early versions of Monster Rancher on handheld devices were better, although the developers at the time were honest and pointed out that this Game Boy Advance version was a port of the version released on PlayStation.
As with the DS version of Monster Rancher, years of writing a four-letter name for your creation (without taking an oath, of course) makes you a monster.
There is also the usual rhyme of victory in railway fights. Monster Rancher has always been a series where fans knew exactly what they were getting, so expect that from the GBA version.
6. Progress 2 Breeding sample (Game Boy Progress)
Get to know the new boss like the old one!
Well, at least on a small scale.
In a game similar to Black Mirror-like, players can take their creation of the monster to the hospital and surgically remove its bad features.
Hey, the ethically questionable procedure has made sample training at least a little easier!
5. EVO Rancher Monster (PlayStation 2)
This PS2 game should be a clean break in the series. Unfortunately, something was wrong.
Firstly, it was published in 2006. It was the year in which the gaming industry was already preparing for the release of the seventh gene of the console.
And secondly, he combined battles and tournaments into simple storylines for the ambitious presentation the JRPG was trying to make.
I’m sure this idea is promising. Although Tecmo, either because of public apathy or the inability to handle the production of a modern console (as the rest of the Japanese gaming industry experienced in the middle of the century), has never tried to continue this work well.
4. Monster Rancher 3 (PlayStation 2)
As the first PS2 release in the Monster Rancher series, it did not disappoint the fans who understood the deep mechanics of the training and the simulations of the first two games.
By taking advantage of the PS2’s graphics capabilities, the developers opted for a fake art style that is charming enough to captivate newcomers to the series.
The gameplay is virtually the same, although the squeaking compensates for any resistance of the series at that time.
3. Monster Rancher 1 (PlayStation)
OG Monster Rancher was already in high demand when it was released on PlayStation in 1997.
Because every player familiar with PlayStation simply had to have their answer to Pokémon.
I mean, what could Suezo be other than the grumpy equivalent of Pikachu?
The Monster Generation Hook-a-a-air CD naturally set them apart from the Pokémon, as did a less soft breeding system, where the organisation of the training was just as important as the choice of flight tactics.
For a new audience of breeders MR has been a very welcome addition, and I think it should be enough to preserve the legacy of the series.
2. Monster Rancher 4 (PlayStation 2)
Monster Rancher Monsters 3 is what Monster Rancher 2 was for MR1: As games that offered significant improvements over their predecessors without compromising the performance of their predecessors.
Monster Rancher 4 has streamlined everything in MR3: Planned sample training, sample combinations, training and the ability to build a sample farm.
The open exploration element is also welcome (although Tecmo learned the wrong lessons during the development of the Monster Rancher EVO).
If the PlayStation 2 can only have one name from Rancher of the Beasts, do it.
1. Monster Rancher 2 (PlayStation)
It’s a game that Rancher the Beasts has identified for the rest of his life.
As if the reproduction system of the first game wasn’t complex enough, the developers had to add other features, such as bugs, training sessions where the player goes on a quest to gain experience and skills (and unlock new zones).
And, man, all the CDs I changed to get the real monster. All the food I had to give him so he could train. Good times.
If you just play a little MR2, it’s easy to imagine that it’s a series that can be continued as Digimon over the next decade. But in fact it has become one of the most important games of the Sony PlayStation era.
Will Koei Tecmo redesign other games in the Monster Rancher series at Capcom’s Resident Evil? Time will tell.
In the meantime, I can only hope.
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