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Monster Rancher 2

Video Game Reviews

Ratings are based on a five-point scale, in homage to the the late, great Next Generation Magazine.

Gameboy Advance

Rating: * * *
Monster Rancher 2 - video game reviews
Monster Rancher 2 screen shots - click for closeup

February 18, 2005

Monster Rancher is one of those games that can suck you in completely for days on end, followed by an equally strong burnout. I surprised myself by spending endless time playing, but eventually, once it seemed as though I had figured it all out, the thrill was gone. Still, for while it lasted, it was a fun ride.

This is the latest installment of Tecmo's popular monster-breeding games, inspired no doubt by the Pokeman phenomenon. In this game, you breed strange, fantastic creatures, and train them to fight in gladiator arenas against other creatures. It all plays out like videogame cockfighting, but without the gambling or cheeky Sienfeld jokes.

As a monster breeder, you have many responsibilitites, from buying a suitable barn for the animal, to feeding, to training. Consulting the calendar, you will see countless tournaments and fights, some for fame, some for money, but the most important are the league championships. You begin in the lowest division, and through hard work and determination, work up the ranks, grabbing trophies and acclaim.

I actually enjoyed playing through the tournaments, even though it becomes terribly repetitive after a time. Through proper training, your monster learns a variety of attack skills (as well as other personality traits), and some are pretty cool. There's a certain rush to be had by clawing back from certain defeat to deliver that final, desperate knockout blow. The fights play out with a certain degree of tension, since most attacks have a low hit rate.

Tecmo does an admitable job creating a whole world, with an RPG-ish storyline and characters who drop in from time to time. For the most part, your companion is a young woman who dreams of becoming a champion breeder, as, well, sees you as her meal ticket. Am I being harsh?

A number of plot developments break up the routine, and your farm may even be attacked by a stray beast or two. The best variation are the treasure hunts, where you set off to explore ruins in search of valuables, set to an impressive three-quarters overhead view. I really wish there were more moments like these.

I can't say how this compares to Pokeman, since I'm obviously far too old for that, but Monster Rancher 2 is a quality title that should keep you happy for a time. Be warned however: once you figure out the formula for creating super-powered fighters, the game just becomes an excercise in going through the motions. Train one turn, rest one turn, spar one turn, rest one turn.

Did I just give that away? Oops.

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