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Review: Monster Tale (DS)

Sunday, March 27th, 2011 by

monster tale

From the mashup experts who brought you platforms and puzzles in Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure comes Monster Tale, a solid mix of Metroid-style action-adventure and virtual-pet raising.

Monster Tale is the story of a child, Ellie, who is startled from sleep by a loud noise. Wandering into the woods, she discovers a glowing bracelet. While gazing at it, she blacks out. Upon waking, she finds that the bracelet is around her arm and she’s been transported to a different world.

Exploration unlocks the ability to shoot energy from the bracelet and brings her in contact with a large red egg. As she turns to leave, the egg hatches and Chomp, a floating young monster, emerges. They quickly bond.

Ellie soon learns that she’s not the first human to cross over into the monster world. Five more have come before her, but their hearts were filled with ambition and greed. They have enslaved the monsters and use them for their own selfish purposes.

Ellie and Chomp set out to defeat the evil children and restore freedom to the monster realm.

Monster Tale definitely pays homage to the Metroid series. Ellie and Chomp move from room to room fighting enemies, but are often blocked by obstacles that cannot yet be surpassed. Discovering shrines, though, will unlock new abilities for Ellie that let her overcome those obstacles. Like Metroid: Zero Mission, Ellie will have a constant beacon on the map indicating where she should go next.

Ellie starts out with only the bracelet blaster for attacking, but quickly gains the power to swing her satchel as a melee weapon. The blaster is slightly stronger and can be fired while running, but uses power from a meter. Attacking with the satchel restores the blaster meter and allows you to chain attacks together, but can only be done while standing or jumping. Chained attacks result in more blaster energy restored and additional chances for enemies to drop money.

Money can be used to purchase upgrades for Ellie, such as a larger health meter, higher damage-dealing capabilities, and increased likelihood that enemies will drop loot.

Save rooms are found at consistent intervals. These libraries not only allow you to record your journey but will restore full health for Ellie and Chomp and will completely refill Ellie’s blaster meter. Conveniently, the rooms directly adjacent to save chambers have stacks of books on the ground, so you can quickly spot a save room when entering a new area.

monster tale

Monster Tale makes brilliant use of the DS’s dual screens. Most of the action-adventure gaming is on the top screen, while the bottom screen houses the virtual-pet aspect.

Chomp starts out helping you with combat on the top screen, but he can be sent back and forth at any time by pressing the X button. At times you will need to send Chomp to the bottom screen to trigger something on the top screen or to attack an enemy that has snuck down there, but usually the bottom screen is reserved for Chomp’s growth.

While playing, you will discover or buy food, toys, and other objects with which Chomp can interact. All such objects are sent to the bottom screen, where they will pile up. Directing Chomp down will allow him to eat, play with, or learn from those objects. Each object will have various effects, such as raising Chomp’s stats, granting him experience, and possibly attacking the enemies on the top screen.

As Chomp gains experience and levels, new forms of evolution will be unlocked. Each form has different native adjustments to Chomp’s base stats and becomes more powerful as you level it up. Each form also has unique abilities that can be unlocked and assigned to the DS’s shoulder buttons. Level-up any given form sufficiently and you can master those abilities so that they can be used with other forms. In addition to abilities, each form will unlock stat bonuses or elemental traits that can be mastered and used with other forms. Forms can be switched between at any time.

As the story progresses, new branches in the evolution tree will be unlocked for Chomp. He starts on the adolescent branch but will later have access to teenage and adult forms. With each new age group, Chomp grows bigger and looks and sounds meaner.

monster tale

Monster Tale plays like Metroid and a virtual pet game, but looks and sounds similar to a Mega Man X title. The visuals are colorful and bright, the sound effects are powerful, and the soundtrack is largely upbeat and catchy.

Monster Tale has a lot going for it, but there are a few potential downsides depending on your taste. For one, the map beacon that denotes the next objective makes the game linear. You could ignore it, but you can’t check the map without seeing it. There are also very few locations to revisit for previously unreachable items that aren’t indicated as part of the guidance you receive, so the game is in fact very linear.

Another possible detriment is that the game only takes about 8-10 hours to play, varying by how much time you want to spend beating up bad guys just for the purpose of leveling Chomp. This is standard fare for a side-scrolling Metroid-type game, but some players might expect more for the price of admission.

Also, the story is definitely about kids and is geared towards them, so be prepared. Ellie and the five enemy children are just as emotional and fickle as you would expect people their age to be. Overall, the story meets the needs of a shorter game, but it’s nothing noteworthy.

These points aside, Monster Tale delivers. Gamers looking for a fast-paced title with a unique mix of genres will get a lot of enjoyment from Monster Tale.

monster tale

Image Source: Majesco Press Kit

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See Monster Tale in action:

Platform: Nintendo DS

About the Author

Markham Asylum is a founding member of Delta Attack. His tier-1 favorite genres are role-playing, puzzle, and strategy. His tier-2 are adventure, shooter, and platformer. He strives to provide spoiler-free postings whenever possible.

Markham Asylum has written 422 posts on Delta Attack

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