Monster Tale Review :
Command your own monster in Monster Tale!
From (some of) the makers of "Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure" comes Monster Tale, a veritable mash-up of gaming ideas that combines a pet-raising simulator on the bottom with classic platforming action at the top! So is Monster Tale worth YOUR time? Read on!
Monster Tale tells the story of a young girl named Ellie who wakes up one night upon hearing a disturbance outside. She heads out into the night and soon finds a mysterious bracelet that not only grants her the power to shoot out energy (think classic "Megaman") but also whisks her away to a faraway land.
In this land, she meets a freshly-hatched monster who ends up following her (maybe it thinks she's his mother?!), but also soon meets another kid who is not only hostile, but is seemingly in charge of this land (aptly named Monster Land). It seems Ellie isn't the first one to come to this land. Five other kids have arrived and taken over this world, using the monsters as their personal guardians and locking up all the monsters who resist! Now Ellie has no choice but to seek them out and try and find a way home... with this monster (who she names Chomp) in tow.
Honestly, the story is one of the weakest points of Monster Tale. Not only is the starting story pretty weak (teleporting to a new land), but every kid's character and background stories never go beyond your typical stereotypes. Short cut scenes often occur as you progress throughout the game, but are only there to show the other kids as they attempt to thwart (or get reprimanded for not thwarting) Ellie's progress. Needless to say, Monster Tale is NOT for those of you looking for a deep or compelling story!
Game play: 9/10
Time to explore the game play! As you can tell by looking at the box, Monster Tale makes good use of both the upper and lower screens. You will control Ellie on the upper screen as you partake in some good-old fashioned platforming! This part of the game reminds me a LOT of some sort of Megaman Zero / Metroid combination, as Ellie can physically attack with her bag and of course can use her bracelet to blast away! The Metroid portion shows itself in how you explore your surroundings, as they are separated into rooms. Thankfully, the game includes a map that shows where you are at at any time as well as where you need to go (which is VERY handy, thank you developers!). Some areas will be unavailable until you acquire certain skills (another hallmark of the Metroid and hand-held Castlevania series), and so you'll be forced to backtrack quite a bit. In fact, there may very well be TOO much backtracking, as the game will send you to many places you've already visited just to investigate a single room to get an item you NEED to continue the game.
Now onto the main attraction: the monster! Chomp will join you on the top screen and can even assist in fighting monsters, but he gets exhausted after awhile, so you can move him down to the bottom screen. The bottom screen is Chomp's "Pet Sanctuary", where his health will restore. As you fight on the top screen, the monsters will drop various items (Like cookies, or toy cars) which you can pick up and get sent automatically to the sanctuary. Now whenever Chomp goes down to the sanctuary, he will eat and play with whatever is down there, gaining experience and enhancing his stats as he interacts with each object.
As Chomp interacts with items and gains experience, he will evolve into new forms! Each new form not only looks different but also has its own level and learns unique attacks and traits! The game also utilizes a simple "paper-rock-scissors" system (In this case "fire-earth-water") where different forms will change elements and can be stronger or weaker against enemies with opposing elements. It's a nice little touch, but isn't TOO important to keep track of. As you level up each form you can "Master" skills and use them even when you are a different form (letting you mix and match skills while keeping your favorites). Unlocking new forms, leveling them up, and unleashing Chomp's new attacks are far and away the best part of the game! While the amount of backtracking you'll have to do can be tedious at times, Chomps evolution and the way you can attack with Ellie and Chomp together makes Monster Tale just plain FUN to play.
The graphics in the game are rather simplistic, but do their job well. As you play the game you'll enter various kingdom's, all of which have a separate theme to them. The monsters that you'll fight throughout the game are well-designed and often require certain tactics to take down. Due to the game's elemental system, the monsters will often undergo palate-swaps as you progress through the game (which undoubtedly made the game easier to make). Chomp's new forms often add unique features to him like horns and wings and are always fun to unlock. The animations in the game are fantastic, adding in a ton of charm. Watching Chomp go to town on his first cookie is bound to endear the character to you (unless you have a heart of stone or something).
The music takes a backseat to the game play, but each kingdom of the game you explore has its own sound track that will loop over and over. The tracks are good, with multiple melodies playing over each other giving you some "easy listening" to enjoy while you explore. Sound effects will happen all the time as you and Chomp work together to take down the hordes of monsters you will face. Thankfully, the "talking" in the game isn't annoying at all (which is more than I can say about "Henry Hatsworth" by the way) as Ellie will occasionally order Chomp to attack. Fairly standard stuff.
I won't lie to you guys, Monster Tale is a rather short game (this is probably even more noticeable when you're having as much fun with the game play as I was). To completely beat the game, explore every area, and unlock every form that Chomp can turn into will probably take you around 10 hours. And what's even more disappointing is the lack of a "New Game +" or any other harder difficulty choices. You can extend your time with the game by leveling up Chomp's forms and playing with the abilities you'll find, but Monster Tale is still rather short.
In the end, Monster Tale takes what works from other game series and uses them to craft its own adventure. Even with its lack-luster story you'll find the game addictive thanks to the involved pet-raising simulator and the charming visuals. I found myself wishing the game was longer when I finished, which is what a good game does: it leaves you wanting more.
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