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Dragon Warrior Monsters
Platform:  Gameboy
# of Players:  1 (2 with link cable
Developer:  Enix
Publisher:  Eidos
Features:  Link cable, Super Gameboy
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  
Dragon Warrior Monsters is advertised as "a spin-off of Japanís best-selling RPG game [sic], Enixís Dragon Quest." What this actually means is the game is Pokemon in a Dragon Warrior suit. You are Terry, a fat-cheeked third grader with prematurely grey hair, and you must "make monsters your allies and become the most powerful monster master in the world." So the game obviously owes a lot to Pokemon. A whole lot. But it has enough different elements to give something of its own identity, and a couple of them are interesting.

For one thing, the game attempts to have something like a comprehensive storyline underneath the whole "catch em all" thing. The game opens like this: one night while you are sleeping, a blue monster comes out of your sisterís dresser and carries her off. Then, shortly after, another one comes out and carries you into the dresser, which is actually a big tree that people live in, and it turns out that for some reason you can only get your sister back by winning the monster tournament. I understand most games presuppose a certain willing suspension of disbelief. But to me this introduction was more like a suspension of put-the-game-in-the-garbage-disposal. A plot could have been a good addition to this game, but in the case of this "plot," it just makes the pointlessness of Pokemon seem liberating and cool.

Another notable departure from Pokemon is the ability to breed monsters. You have this farm that you can go to and make your monsters breed, which I think is a cool idea. It makes the number of monsters in the game practically limitless and allows the player to somewhat personalize their monsters. A lot of the monsters are the ones from the original Dragon Warrior games, and they are not as cute as Pokemon. The monster Watabou is shaped and posed exactly like Pikachu, except itís blue, and not very cute, and appears to be made of wood; there is a "FunkyBird" which has nothing on Pokemonís Psyduck, and so forth. This lack of cute could disappoint some people but will be a welcome change to those put off by the diabetic sweetness of Pokemon.

Dragon Warrior Monsters is generally a more advanced game than Pokemon. The dungeons and forests Terry goes through are all randomized and different each time you encounter them, adding a lot of difficulty to the game. There are also a lot more monster-fighting and monster-raising techniques in addition to breeding, such as reading to your monsters (if you read them violent books, they will become bad-tempered. Seriously.) and a lot more spells and special moves that they can learn.

So itís not that this game isnít a thinly disguised Pokemon rip-off. It is. But it has taken the Pokemon basics and made a more complicated, and at times more interesting game. If you liked the idea of Pokemon but found it too simple, this is a good game for you. If you liked Pokemon because it was cute and easygoing, Iím sure there will be more Pokemon stuff for you soon.

Emily Ponder

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