MinoMonsters is Pokemon, only not. Okay, so perhaps that comparison isn’t entirely fair, though it’s not very far off the mark, either. There’s no denying where this game’s roots lie, but it’s not exactly a clone, either. It’s more like “Pokemon Express.”
Wrestling fans are familiar with a term for when members of their favorite organization spend too much time talking and not enough time slapping the sweat off one-another: “Shut up and wrestle.” And that’s what it feels like someone told Pokemon, resulting in MinoMonsters. Whereas Pokemon invites you into its world with its premise, characters, and so forth, MinoMonsters pretty much just saddles you with the starting monster of your choice and kicks you right off the boat into battle– and rather literally, at that.
Tutorials? You won’t find any here; the game feels very oldschool in that it is largely up to you and you alone to discover its secrets. Of course, oldschool games usually at least had a manual to give you some idea of what you’re doing. As such, you might find yourself trying to do something– healing your monster at home base, for example– and getting different results without really knowing why.
A band of brothers.
The premise for the game’s story is almost paper-thin: rather than setting out to be the best, thwart criminal organizations, or wax philosophical about making these guys fight in the first place, MinoMonsters all but eliminates the human element as the one main homosapien you encounter is the ship captain who wrecked his boat, stranding you on the game’s island setting. From there, you venture off to fight other monsters, salvage items from crates, and accomplish objectives.
There are several portions of the island, with each subsequent section unlocked by achieving a certain number of objectives to earn stars. Most of these don’t matter where you accomplish them, so long as you do, though a few are region-specific. The unfortunate thing is that you may accomplish several of these before they are officially added to your list (which only displays three at a time). A goal can be to wander across 15 spaces, and you can tread over 1,500, but it won’t matter unless the game asks you to do so first. As a result, it’s a little bothersome to have to retread things you’ve already done, even if by sheer coincidence, just to gather more stars so you can proceed.
Fighting the good fight.
As for the island segments, there isn’t a lot to them, as you wander from one circular formation to the next, without any real landmarks to speak of. They exist mostly as a backdrop, and the game’s display of your options tends to prevent you from moving as far upwards as a time as you can left, right, or down. You can scroll the screen around for a better view, but you can only look.
Regarding combat, it continues the stripped-down Pokemon feel as you basically touch your enemy to attack. However, though there are special attacks, the game doesn’t have quite the depth or strategy Pokemon does; it’s pretty much just trying to beat down enemies before they beat you down, and capturing those you can with your Pokeball– er, candy. But the whole paper-rock-scissors style of the elements used in Pokemon seems to be absent, or at the very least, underutilized.
One problem for some is that purchases at the shop can only be made with “Minocredits.” Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to earn these in-game, so it’s Visa or bust.
So if the game is a streamlined version of Pokemon, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re sick of having to engage in battle just because some doofus on Route 66 just realized his shoes don’t have shoelaces. Plus, the character designs are charming, though they remind us more of NeoPets than Pokemon– again, not necessarily a bad thing. But it takes one key aspect of those games and runs with it, and although does all right with it, it probably won’t have many hooked for hours at a time.