Gotta Catch ‘Em…Wait wrong Franchise.
Everybody loves Pokémon. It is one of the most popular franchises in the world. It’s spawned many shows, movies, books and games. Monster Masters is not one of those games. Developed by LanParty Games, this RPG is clearly inspired by Pokémon. The general aesthetic and, most importantly, the battle system are all reminiscent of the famous IP. But the battle system and aesthetic are where the similarities end.
Monster Masters bills itself as an RPG, but the RPG elements aren’t the focus of the game. The main activity of the game is using the monsters you’ve collected to battle other players. There’s no story or main character, just battling. You’re given a basic team to start with, a tutorial, and then you’re off. You grow and level up your team through, you guessed it, battling. But not in a traditional way.
When you win a battle you’re rewarded with a chest, called a “battle box.” These boxes hold experience points for your monsters. There is also a “big box” that is unlocked by knocking out 25 monsters and gives you extra experience points and, occasionally, an egg. These eggs are how you add new monsters to your team. Unlike Pokémon, these eggs don’t require you to wander around an island for a few hours. They require you to simply wait for a predetermined set of time. The battle boxes are also opened this way, taking two hours to open. While the battle boxes give you a clear goal to work toward, the randomness of the boxes’ contents is antithetical to the team-based nature of the game.
To the Best of Your Ability
Monster Masters does require strategy. On the surface, combat looks basic, but battles require timing, planning and quick thinking. All monsters have a bar that ranges from one to five above their abilities, representing their energy. Abilities then take a certain amount of time to be executed. Certain abilities will also allow monsters to fly over attacks or burrow under them, making that attack miss. All of this is to say that strategy is a major element of the battles in Monster Masters. But so is damage.
Because of the nature of the battle system, you cannot dodge every attack. And if you’re battling a team with a higher damage output than you, you’re only going to make it so far. Damage output is connected to Monster level. This is where the antithetical nature of the battle boxes comes in.
In team-based battle games, like Pokémon, many players will assess the abilities of the fighters at their disposal, build their team based off their play style and level up that specific team of fighters to use in battle. That’s not possible with Monster Masters. With the randomness of the battle boxes, there’s no way to guarantee which monster you’re going to be getting experience for. You could win a battle and earn experience for monsters you didn’t use. The in-game shop does have a “Daily Deals” section that offers experience for certain monsters, but it is only a select few and rotates daily. For players trying to get a certain team to the highest levels, this could be a major source of frustration.
FAME! I’m gonna fight forever
Though the random nature of the battle boxes may turn some players off, the actual combat may be enough to get others to stay. The strategic elements create engaging battles that will keep players on their toes and leave them feeling satisfied when they come out on top. The game also offers those with a competitive side a little something extra. Players are split into leagues and face off against live opponents within the same league.
Leagues are determined by the amount of “Fame” you have, which is gained by winning battles. The more Fame you have, the higher the league you’re in. At the end of the “Season,” which lasts 15 days, players earn rewards based on the league they’re in. To earn rewards, you need at least 1400 fame, so those who want to be the very best that no one ever was, will have something to work toward. Sorry, forgot we weren’t talking about Pokémon.
Monster Masters is a fun turn-based monster game in its own right. The monsters have adorable designs, the battles are fun, and the game has something for those who find themselves deeply invested in it. But the battles make or break the game. If you find yourself not enjoying the battles themselves, then you’ll find that you have no reason to play Monster Masters.
Is it Hardcore?
Maybe. It definitely depends on the player. While the battle system may be enough to get some invested, the inability to devote your time to level up a specific team will turn others off.