Catching, raising and battling little monsters is not a new thing, gamers have been doing it for what seems like forever. So, nowadays, when a game comes out with this premise, gamers will be forgiven for thinking that it’s just another Pokemon clone. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2, however, is not a clone, and it brings in a new way to play this genre of games. Here, you can fuse two monsters to create a new one and the offspring will have an entirely new skill set and attributes. Now how many times have you thought of doing that in other games?
You play as a young man who dreams of being the best monster scout; he hides away in a flying machine which is destined to land at a large monster tournament. Then, the ship crashes and your left in a wide area filled with creatures and it’s your job to find the passengers and catch and fuse lots of monsters to aid you in your battles. Whilst this story is not a highly original one by any means, it’s still enjoyable. The developers could have given you something wildly different from what has gone before, but, on the story front at least, they obviously thought why mess with a proven formula?
The way you catch monsters is also different from other games in the genre in that you don’t fight your prey and weaken them. Instead, you have to fake attack them and using your chosen three monsters you give a somewhat animalistic show of strength. If the prey is impressed, then they will join your party, if not, then you can’t scout (catch) them anymore. Instead, you have to kill them for experience points or just run away. At first this does not feel right, as other games in the genre have brain washed us into a set style of play. Give this new approach some time though, and it will grow on you, and after a few hours this new way to interact with monsters becomes second nature.
This way of fighting is a throwback to old style RPGs of the past. If you get bored of telling your monsters what to do, then the DS can do it for you. Dragon Quest Monster: Joker 2 has five different settings which you can assign and just sit back and watch the battle progress. It also has to be noted here that you have a party of six monsters to use during fights. I have to admit that these fights are a lot of fun to initiate and even more fun when you actually manage to scout one of these huge monsters as this gives you a real sense of achievement.
It’s the fusion mode, though, that is perhaps Dragon Quest Monsters’ coolest feature. You fuse two monsters to create a new one. The offspring has new skills and stats that are otherwise unobtainable. This is a very fun thing to do as there are so many different outcomes. Sometimes you will get a massive dragon or troll, whilst other times you get a silly fat rat or slime creature. The feature does have its problem as well, though. Sometimes you need to build up the two monsters levels a lot before you fuse them and the resulting monsters start at a very low level. This can get very frustrating, but fear not, as these fused monsters level up faster.
The land you are dropped into is very well done and the graphics are quite nice for a DS game. The colours are bright and vibrant and the monsters themselves at times look scary and at other times just down right cool. As you progress through the game you will also encounter huge monsters but, don’t try to scout them just yet as you will get killed very quickly.
The environment in which the game is set benefits greatly from the game’s many sounds. The voice acting is just silly in this game as the dialogue is witty and actually has some good puns in it. You are not bored to read and listen to the story as it develops and all the characters you meet have nice animations which also help the game to progress. Some RPGs have a tendency to go on too much which forces the gamer to just skip some of these sections. I didn’t do that once in this game and I wanted to see what everyone had to say for themselves. To aid in the longevity, there are over 300 monsters to catch, level up and fuse. This is also a Wi-Fi enabled game, meaning you can battle with people all over the world, which is a very fun thing to do, although there are lots of good players out there, so we warned.
Overall, Sqaure Enix and Nintendo have developed a game that is both new and old. There are elements of old style RPG that fans love and new elements of fusion that fans will warm to. The story is not award winning but passable, the graphics and sound are surprising good and crisp for a DS game. The multiplayer adds a competitive edge to the game as you want to play it more to develop your guys up and then win in battles. If you’re a fan of monster hunting games, RPGs and exploring then this is the game for you. In this game the catchphrase is: “You have to fuse them all”.
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