|Title||:||Dragon Warrior Monsters|
|Platforms||:||Game Boy Color|
|Review by||:||Robert Boyd|
Dragon Warrior games were known and loved on the original Nintendo system as one of the best role-playing series around. Dragon Warrior Monsters, developed by Enix and published by Eidos, continues this tradition — it's easily one of the best Game Boy Color games to date.
At first glance, DWM may appear to be a Pokemon clone, albeit a very good one. The goal is to win the Starry Nights Tournament and to do this you need to assemble the most powerful team of monsters in the kingdom. There are 215 cute and cool monsters to collect, each with its own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Despite the similarities to Pokemon, DWM definitely feels like a Dragon Warrior game (monster allies have been a part of the series since DW4). This is aided by the fact that DWM is filled with many references to other Dragon Warrior games through its graphics, music, and even scenarios.
The big difference between Pokemon and DWM is the focus. Pokemon is about collecting monsters; DWM is about creating the ultimate combat team. The game allows an immense amount of customization. This is mostly due to the excellent breeding system — by breeding a male and female monster from any species, you create a child monster that inherits traits and abilities from both parents. Sometimes breeding even results in a new monster species, some of which cannot be obtained any other way.
Mastering the breeding system is an essential and very enjoyable part of the game, but there are other elements that add to the gameplay experience. Fights in DWM occur with up to 3 monsters on each side fighting simultaneously so it's not enough to just create good monsters; you need to create monsters that work well together (the 8 ability limit per monster also encourages this). The game features a surprisingly intelligent AI system that makes random combats quick and painless. There's a town that has plenty of helpful features like a library with essential monster ability information and townsfolk that give you tips as you progress through the game. The game features a two-player mode so you can compete against a friend. Finally, the difficulty level progresses at a very nice rate.
Graphics are respectable for a Game Boy Color game. Of particular note are the many monster designs, all of which are unusually well done. Some of the combat spells are pretty impressive as well.
The game does have a few minor annoyances. The dungeons are all randomly created and, as such, are fairly boring. Also, you can't save your progress while in a dungeon and some of the latter dungeons are fairly long (around an hour). Your character walks a little slower than he should and the item and monster limitations (20 items and 19 active monsters at a time) get a little annoying toward the end of the game.
Still, these problems don't diminish from the game's addictive gameplay. After all, any game that lets you create a team composed of a metal slime, a dragon, and Hargon, the main villain of DW2, is doing something right. If you're a fan of Pokemon, Dragon Warrior, or old style RPGs (back when stories were next to non-existent and gameplay was everything), then Dragon Warrior Monsters comes highly recommended.
This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 20-Apr-00