Author: Max Linskey
Following the great success of Pokemon, Japanese game developers were eager to create worlds to compete with this instantly popular title. Through the thick of copies, games emerged that set themselves apart in game play and story, though they were few and far between. One excellent example of this was the Enix (before they joined Square) release in 2000, Dragon Warrior Monsters for the Gameboy Color. The story was both cute and engulfing, the battling easy to pick up, and the monsters aplenty in each area, Dragon Warrior Monsters became a hit.
The story follows Terry (or player generated name) through a portal into the monster world after his sister is taken there, dropping players into the game eager to train, raise, and breed the indigenous creatures. Terry hopes to become a strong enough monster trainer to battle in the Starry Night Tournament, held once every great many years, because the winner gets a wish, which he would use to return home with his sister. This all from a Gameboy Color game is pretty incredible, and boasts a better storyline than a 10 year old traveling the world for fun.
The monsters are the main focus of the game, and they are a wide variety. Some are cute and small, like the slime class which has the mascot Slime, a blue water drop shaped creature,
while others are big and ferocious, like the Sky Dragon, an enormous dragon resembling those in Chinese myths.
All of the monsters have different locations to be encountered, and getting them to join the player is one of the interesting aspects of the game. Instead of capturing them and containing them, instead they are lured to the player with food. The more rare the creature, the harder the befriending, and a better meat makes for a better chance of them joining. after capturing, the monster follows the player around onscreen. The party size is only 3, making choices seem limited, but the battle system makes 3 all that is necessary. Every battle in Dragon Warrior Monsters is fought with the enemy in sight, with the players monsters seemingly in front, and therefore off screen.
The best part of the monsters is their ability to breed. Breeding is the central focus of getting a unique and quickly leveling monster. A player does this by visiting a certain place and choosing who the parents will be. A list of all possible results is shown, and once selected the process can begin. Unfortunately, the two used leave forever, but the resulting monster is a more powerful monster with an experience gaining boost. This means breeding can be chained, which can create a monster with an extremely high exp gain rate, and that means they can get more powerful more quickly. This does mean that some of the game involves grinding to get monsters to level 10, when they can begin the breeding process, but eventually this becomes well worth it when the player boasts a team with multiple powerful monsters.
Dragon Warrior Monsters was followed by a sequel and part of a larger series known as Dragon Quest. The franchise took off in Japan, with multiple releases of many games and even DS and a 3DS release, but in America, popularity faded after the second Gameboy Color installment, and completely petered out until the releases of Dragon Warrior Monsters: Joker and Dragon Warrior Monsters: Joker 2. For a Gameboy Color game, the original Dragon Warrior Monsters is a wonderful game, and a must play for JRPG fans, and gamers who like Pokemon, but want something a bit different.