When Capcom created the Monster Hunter series, they managed to capture lightning in a bottle, and the series has gone on to achieve massive popularity… in Japan, at least. Regardless of where the phenomenon is centered, however, it would seem inevitable that other people would try to capture a piece of that action in some form.
To call Monster Tamer a rip-off of Monster Hunter might be unfair, but it certainly feels like Monster Hunter’s fingerprints are all over this game– even the title rolls off the tongue similarly. Still, Monster Tamer has a certain simple charm to it. In fact, at its core Monster Tamer feels like a simplified version of Monster Hunter.
The gameplay is fairly simple. You select a male or female hunter– er, tamer– and set off into the wilderness to engage with the local wildlife across numerous short stages filled with monsters. Upon spotting a monster, you’ll tap your character, tap the target, and that’s pretty much it. Your character will descend upon their prey, and the two will basically exchange hits until one falls over dead (you can still move away if it looks like you’re on the losing end). Upon slaughtering the beast, a number of meat and bone items will appear in their place on the ground, waiting for you to collect them by simply running your finger over them.
No pink slime for us.
Since this game is called Monster Tamer, you also have the option of setting traps to try and ensnare monsters you encounter, rather than reducing them to bones and supermarket cutlets. Doing so allows you to bring up to three of these monsters into battle with you and employ their special abilities to aid you in combat.
Naturally, the game encourages you to “capture as many types of monsters as possible for a complete collection,” which actually makes it seem a little like they’re trying to eat both Monster Hunter and PokÃ©mon’s lunch together. Lucky for them, it seems to work in a modest way.
In addition to leveling up through experience in battle, you can also further enhance your tamer or your monsters by trading the meat and bones you’ve collected to level them up or collect more items. Those inclined to get ahead more quickly can also purchase certain items, including bundles of meat, through in-game transactions.
Fresh meat: accepted everywhere.
Doing so allows you to gradually progress further through the levels, as you might not be able to make it through some of them in one try. You can go in, harvest what you can, and get out while the getting is good to apply the new resources, then come back stronger to try it again.
Compared to the Monster Hunter or PokÃ©mon games, there isn’t really much story to speak of. You’re not really crossing any lands beside the battle levels, and there isn’t much in the way of villages, either (you operate out of one, but don’t really get to explore it). Instead, there is an emphasis on more social elements, such as a monster-breeding area and a tamer bar for collecting friendship badges. Unfortunately, the monster-breeding area kept kicking us back to the menu screen, while the tamer bar kept crashing on us and leaving us with a white screen after fellow players were disconnected.
So while the multiplayer elements seem like a wash, the single-player game is still fun to play in short bursts. Killing and gathering monsters isn’t very deep, but it’s just fun enough to pull out now and then while waiting for a bus or appointment. Those who prefer deeper, more complex games may want to pass on Monster Tamer, but for those who prefer lighter fare, this does the job nicely.