Capturing, training, evolving and battling monsters has been a genre of games that I have loved ever since I was a child and I played Pokemon Red – ever since then, the idea of training my own little army of monsters has always been a life long dream of mine (obviously in the land of imagination). I think the reason why I was drawn to Pokemon, as well as, other monster training games is the variety of depth of the monsters than can be found. The anticipation when you would discover a new area, as the curiousity built up inside over what new monsters I might come across. Also this comes hand in hand with having to try and collect everything within the game, nothing brought me more joy than tracking down the rare and elusive. Here I have collected my favourite monster training games throughout my gaming life – enjoy!
6. Monster Rancher
Now this is game that was mentioned in one of my favourite games as a child – but it easily fits into the monster training genre. This game has the most interesting method of monster collecting and for it’s time it was extremely innovative. To collect monsters you would have to insert CDs into your playstation console and the game would unveil a monster based on the CD choice. Super rare monsters were hiding on specific discs, which sent me and my brother on a hunting spree around our home. The monsters within the game were creative, and the ability to combine would often lead to some interesting combinations. The battling system within the game was unique – using the idea of distance within a fight and requiring the energy levels needed to use specfic moves. At times it could lead to some frustrating moments, as your opponent abused the distance but in all created a balanced battling system that never felt repeatitive.
5. Digimon World New Order
This is a remake of a game which falls further on the list and the main reason why that game is higher is due to pure nostaglia. Digimon has always been the rival to Pokemon, both games mirroring the same ideas throughout. This game follows the same formula that Digimon games have often followed – birth your digimon, train and battle, learn new moves and digivolve. This game presents plenty of chances to choose what path you wanted your digimon to follow, but within this game you recieve two partner digimon for double the choices. The battle system within this game is fun, relying on your digimon to make the best decisions with you on the sidelines to cheer them on. My only issue with this game is it falls into the over narrative scenes that JRPG games fall into, making some sections of the game long winded. There is also a difficulty jump – which I didn’t mind too much because I find some modern games these days a little bit easy.
4. Monster Sanctuary
Now Monster Sanctuary is a game that I finished last year – and I will be honest is probably my favourite monster training game that I have played but I am a sucker for nostalgia! Monster Sanctuary merges the concepts of monster collection with a metroidvaina style adventure. As you move through your journey you will battle an interesting selection of monsters, brought to life with fantastic pixel-style graphics and if you are lucky you will recieve a monster egg. Once you have a team of six, then the in-depth strategy truly begins. Each monster within the game can fit into a different role – healer, supported, tank or attacker but further into these roles are types and different move trees that just add layers and layers. I found this game to be very clever in its design, creating situations forcing you to adapt and put into practise concepts and ideas that you have learnt throughout the course of the game. This game is easily one of my most satisfying completions in a long while!
3. Jade Cocoon
This is another game that has been featured within my favourite games from my childhood, it seems I played a lot of games that involved collected monsters in my younger days. Jade Cocoon had an abudance of different monsters to collect, but my favourite feature within the game was the ability to combine them together. This allowed your monsters to share elements and their move sets, opening a tactical element to your monster creations. I also enjoyed that this is the only game on my list where the trainer gets involved, although in some ways this is animal cruelty, but the monsters don’t hesitate to kick his ass. The game also wasn’t super easy – it followed the older generations of gaming and the difficulty was higher than I find in modern games – this meant some thought went into planning your team, the elements and the moves used were needed in order to get through certain boss fights.
2. Digimon World
Now this game will look somewhat familar – just with much older graphics but this is the orginial game for number 5 on my list! This is the digimon world that featured on the PS1 and the first digimon game to ever be released. This game featured a brilliant world to explore, filled with a wide variety of digimon that you can fight and if you were lucky, digivolve your digimon into. The idea behind the game – train and raise your digimon – what I loved about the game was the tamgochi like method of raising your digimon. You needed to feed it when hungry, take it to the gym in order to train them and take them to the loo for a poo! Becareful because pushing the toilet would result in them having an accident on the floor, to never disappear and flaunt your failure as a digimon owner. It was the digimon collection that was the real time black hole – the game did an awful job of helping you get the correct stats in order to reach the next digimon and when it came to the precious time for your digimon to digivolve, it went one of three ways. Your digimon either died because it didn’t have the matching stats, it would digivolve into something cool…….or it would digivolve….into one of the two worst digimon ever…numemon and sukamon. I have never felt such devasation than waiting to see that I had got yet another numemon!
1. Pokemon Red
Unsurprising choice I am sure… and I can guess that a lot of people will have a similar favourite in Pokemon red or blue as I, especially if you are from the same generation. Pokemon has won my heart ever since I was about 7 years old, playing on my Gameboy, in its black and white pixelate glory. The design of the original 151 will always be my favourite within the world of Pokemon – their designs simple yet clever, taking ideas from all over the world. The idea of being a young person, old enough to go on their own to be a Pokemon master was utterly enticing to me and one even to this day. Even now as a near 30 year old man, I would shed my adult responsibilities in a heart beat to win the Pokemon league. However the main reason why this is by favourite monster training game of all time, is my memories as a child with my older brother. We would camp together on the floor, start our games of pokemon from scratch at the same time and try to see who could get the furthest before we passed out asleep. It was brilliant! Trying to catch everything in sight and dragging a team together to bash their way at Brock’s rock squad!
I know that I have definitely missed some titles and especially more of the modern games such as TemTem but that is purely because I have not had the chance to play them quite yet but I would love any thoughts on Monster training games or recommendations of ones to play that I have missed out!