Yashoki Reviews: Monster Tale DS

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Majesco Entertainment has just released a new game and believe it or not, this has nothing to do with Womens work. Monster Tale, developed by DreamRift, is a side scrolling platformer more akin to Castlevania than anything else, and boy did they not only impress, they blew me away.

First off in case you didn’t know, DreamRift is made up of the fine team who developed Henry Hatsworth, so this game comes with a pedigree (Stole that from the official page).

Story

You play as Ellie, a blue haired soon-to-be heroine who wakes up in a strange world. As shes exploring this new land she comes across a bracelet that when activated shoots out balls of energy, presumably designed to take down foes. With Mega Man bracelet in hand (more like on wrist) she happens across an egg with a strange design and is taken by surprise when it hatches right in front of her eyes. With her newborn friend Chomp, and powers and abilities galore, the resulting events lead her into a journey to save the world.

Along the way she meets a merchant creature named Jinx who reveals to her that she is not the only one of her kind and that there are four other humans in the monster world dubbed the Kid Kings. Once upon a time they all came to this other world and learned that they could manipulate and control the monsters of the land for their own bidding, Ellie takes it upon herself to liberate the world.

While not entirely unique, the story is told well and the four other Kid Kings are fun characters in their own way. One of them even has a very anime inspired “Pyo ho ho” as she schemes to stop Ellie.

Gameplay

Monster Tale plays just like Castlevania in that you have to explore parts of the map using your abilities, upon killing boss creatures and looking around you gain other abilities that allow you to discover different parts of the map. Luckily, you’re playing on a DS and a simple press of the Start button reveals the next location of interest on the lower map which comes in quite handy when you can’t remember just where that impassable area you just passed was.

Your companion chomp is not only adorable, he’s pretty darn awesome. This is the aspect of the game I really enjoy. At first I was confused as to what Chomp did because you can usually dispatch of an enemy much quicker than it takes for him to lock on and take a swipe at your enemy, and there are so many of them that waiting would only serve to frustrate you. Thankfully DreamRift made it so that as long as Chomp hits your enemy once he gets experience. Not only that, but Chomp can be equipped with any of two abilities to either the left or right shoulder buttons, this makes it so you can use him to quickly tap an enemy monster while you finish him off for the kill while leveling him up. Chomp is only as useful as you make him and I’ve often forgotten he was there until I needed him to open a door a flip a switch what only he could reach.

Chomp is balanced by the fact that every time he uses an ability his life bar depletes, as well Chomp’s life bar will also begin to tick away the more he is kept out. To revitalize him you have to send him to the sanctuary located on the bottom screen and this is where it gets super adorable. In the sanctuary Chomp can regain his health or he could interact with the many items that are dropped by the monsters you kill. Some items like cookies, pizza, or ice cream serve to add stat bonuses. Food items are met with an animation of chomp ‘om nom noming’ where other items like dumbbells, books, and ability scrolls put a little pair of glasses on him while they are used up. At this point my icy heart melts and I begin to remember what it is to love.

As you can see, Chomp is a big part of the game play and I promise I’ll shut up about him once I mention one more thing because I have saved the best for last.

It’s no secret that the more you use Chomp the better he gets, but depending on the way you use him he will begin to take on different forms with different abilities, specialties, and stats. You can level his forms to turn him into a beefy tank or use him as a sniper which long rage abilities; combine this with the skills you decide to use, runes that augment his abilities even further, and you have countless options on how to play with your little buddy.

Graphics

Monster Tale is a very pretty game, but the one thing that stands out the most are the animations. Every enemy, boss, NPC, and even Ellie and Chomp look amazing. They are clean, crisp, clear, and simply astounding. The environments, while simple are very well done and range from forests, caves, windy plains and even monster dance clubs. The art in this game is simple, but very polished.

Sound

While nothing really stands out, there is a little bit of voice acting, the sounds for abilities sound like they should, and the music for the environments fit very well. I also giggle every time Ellie says “Nice!” after getting a new ability

So what didn’t you like, Yashoki?

As you’ve probably noticed, this review has been nothing but positive and that’s because I love this game, but what is it that annoys me about this game? The only real complaint I have is that after a few hours in I already had a 25% completed score. This is after dying a bit too far from my save point a few times and having to make the walk back. Other than that I did find the game a little easy at times, but that is mostly because you can spam a lot of attacks and down many of your enemies in a few seconds.

So what now?

Overall Monster Tale is a fun, light-hearted, platformer with close ties to Megaman and Castlevania with a little bit of Tomogachi thrown in. It’s easy enough for justify the ‘E’ rating, but has more than enough depth to satisfy any veteran gamer. While a tiny bit on the short side, Monster Tale has more than enough to keep you occupied for the length of the game. I highly recommend this to anybody who’s looking for some familiar but refreshing at the same time.

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