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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Tecmo

 

Developer

Tecmo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2003

 

 

- Nice variety of game modes

- Control up to five monsters at a time

- High Replay Value

- Nice Simulation style elements

 

 

- Whereís the dialogue?

- Game can be a little slow at times

 

 

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Monster Rancher 4

Score: 8.7 / 10

 

Playstation 2 owners have truly been blessed with the large library of RPG games available. Some notables include: Xenosaga, Everquest, Kingdom Hearts and the Final Fantasy games. Playstation 2 owners should get ready to add another great RPG title to an already great library as Monster Rancher 4 (MR4) is a surprise hit that should turn some heads.

 

monster rancher 4          monster rancher 4

 

Those familiar with Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 and the other Monster Rancher titles should feel right at home with MR4.

 

MR4 sees you play a monster breeder who must raise and nurture your monster to compete against other monsters in different types of competitions. You can raise up to five different monsters, but itís much easier starting off with one. The way you go about caring for your monster influences you relationship with your monster. Taking care of your monster is like taking care of yourself. Your monster must be fed, nourished and get his or her share of free time. The developers have set it up so you can plan your weekly schedule and decide ahead of time when you want your training session, free time and competitions to take place. This is a great feature; and itís not too complicated to figure what youíre doing.

 

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When you first start, you begin at a training farm for your monster and youíll run into various characters thatíll give you helpful tips and some tools of the trade to help you get started. Each week you are given the choice of doing one action with your monster. You can feed, comment or discipline your monster. Itís always a good idea to evenly spread out your actions as too much of one thing can lead to problems. On one hand you cannot let your monster(s) starve, but on the other hand you must prevent your 

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monster from becoming lazy. Outside the game you may begin to form an emotional bond with your monster(s) as youíll share each otherís hardships and victories.  It keeps you coming back with that feeling of, ďJust a few more minutes.Ē

 

Before you can enter competitions with your monster(s) you must build your character by going through various training sessions. Sometimes youíll have friendly characters drop by and give the ability to practice your monsterís moves on training dolls. You also have the option to purchase training gadgets. By doing this you familiarize yourself with the basic control structure. Once you begin to enter competitions you are given the choice of whether or not you would like to control your character Ė I found it easier to leave the battles to the computer. If you are successful in the competitions then you can raise the stakes by competing against higher ranked monsters. The more experience you monster(s) gain, the more combat moves they learn.

 

monster rancher 4          monster rancher 4

 

Aside from career mode, there is also an adventure mode. The adventure mode is certainly a lot different from the other game modes as the adventure mode is based largely on exploration for treasures and fighting monsters. The adventure mode helps you build up your characters abilities. There is also a multiplayer component as well: single battle and tag battle. In single battle each person uses only a single monster, while in tag battle each player can use two monsters.

 

The visuals and presentation are where the game seems to suffer. The story is told with text (with no spoken dialogue) and thereís a lot of reading to do. The conversations you have with other characters are not in real time cut scenes, as the characters are still images. The human models badly needed some change, while the monster designs are good for the most part, but in general the visuals cannot compete with whatís currently on the market. There isnít much in the way of music either. Basically all youíll hear are rhythms using the flute and guitar. The complete lack of voice acting hurts the title.

 

RPG fan or not, Monster Rancher 4 gives everybody a little taste of something. Fans of the series should be swept away by a truly great game. It does have a few shortcomings, but if you can look past those youíll truly enjoy the game.

 

- Siddharth Masand

(January 25, 2004)

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