Monster Tale NDS

Ellie and pet Chomp roam the depths of Monster World to help restore order to the secret world inhabited by monsters but is in danger of the destructive force of a gang of brats.

Ratings:
Graphics & Audio: 24/25,
Gameplay: 21/25, 
Creativity 23/25,
Fun 21/25 

Total: 89/100 

Monster Tale NDS

Legend of Zelda, Pokémon and Mario Brothers are games that Monster Tale reminds me of, not in exact gameplay but in general quality game design and great gaming fun. Monster Tale is a sneak in hit of the genre and a great game for the Nintendo DS that takes its own gameplay and story to new heights.

Monster Tale stars Ellie as the hero but she has plenty of help in an avatar styled pet named Chomp who is very much like the Pokémon pets of that series. Monster Tale does seem to take some examples and ideas from other games but uses these in a unique and different way to make this game feel like an original.

The story of brats taking over a make believe world and Ellie coming to the rescue is not all that necessary to follow but it is simple enough and makes for an interesting backdrop. You get a good mix of platforming, boss battles and adventuring along with a taste of role playing character building in Monster Tale using both Ellie and Chomp.

You run Ellie through each level jumping, dodging and ducking cute enemies with boss battles scattered throughout, but the boss battles really use the two screen Nintendo DS to full advantage. I have seen games use both screens but never have I seen characters move smoothly and seamlessly from one screen to the next to fight battles on both screens at the same time.

To get an idea of what I mean you need to know a little more about Chomp, he is a Pokémon like creature that follows you around and you can at times control. When you want to rest him up you send him to the lower screen where he hangs out and restores his energy and revitalizes.

The first boss battle is a two headed dragon and the monster actually ducks down to the lower screen to battle with Chomp while Ellie dodges the head that stayed on your upper screen. If Chomp is not there to battle the head the fight will take a lot longer so you need to make sure Chomp is on the screen the heads are on while your ducking the attacks.

This use of both screens of the dual screen handheld is a fantastic design concept and exactly what Nintendo designed the dual screens for, they really make use of both screens. They also use the common map and information screen setup for general gaming but the use in boss battles of both screens makes for an interesting new feature on the Nintendo DS.

Monster Tale continues the adventures with platforming and character building for both Ellie and Chomp with new abilities for both characters while Chomp can evolve into other creatures later on. You fight your way through the games 10 levels battling several larger enemies in boss battles as well as upgrading your powers and Chomps.

The game has a familiar feel to it from many previous games but is unique enough that you do not feel like you’re covering the same ground as other games. One portion of the gameplay has too familiar a feel as you do cover some of the same map areas throughout the game.

The map page shows you where you’re at and where you want to go which is very helpful as often the game has you going to one end of the map to retrieve an object or ability. You then cover some of the same ground in reverse to go to the other end of the map for a boss fight and moving on to the next level.

This return to familiar grounds is very similar to parts of several Zelda games but they did try to make things different by giving you new items or abilities at these end locations. At times you can blast your way through these same areas because of items or abilities you pick up but many times it just seems like they used a smaller map for some reason.

This is one of the few gameplay features that are a bit of a disappointment but the game only has a couple, maybe three things that are a bit of a disappointment. The other areas I and other reviewers made comment about were the often variable difficulty and the difficulty variations of monsters and enemies you fight.

Often you will be surprised at how easy some of the fights can be while other seemingly smaller enemies will be tougher, this mix of difficulties can be annoying. Other than the two items of note, difficulty and back tracking I found no other problems or even annoyances in Monster Tale.

Monster Tale looks and sounds fantastic, a gorgeous 2D platformer that is well done with colorful sprites and great animations and well-designed screens. This is the kind of game that you expect but so often nowadays the games are rushed out near the end of their design and fall short in too many areas.

Monster Tale also makes fantastic use of both screens not only in management of abilities, items and characters but in battles using Chomp to fight things on his screen. The game also sounds great with well-done soundtrack throughout the game that really does not get irritating or boring.

Often in Nintendo DS games a sound track is too short or repeats too quickly that it gets annoying to listen to and I have often turned down the sound and listened to my own music. Here the music is good enough that you don’t get tired of it in the ten or so hours that will take for you to get through the game the first time.

Value is also very good with Chomp’s wide variety of abilities and branching evolution you can play the game differently a second time through. Once you have played it through a second run using your pets abilities in different ways will result in gameplay that is just different enough to make it fun but a third run soon after the first two may be a bit too much.

Monster Tale is one of those rare games that not only is fun to play through once but a repeat will be a worthwhile adventure as well as keeping the game to play again after you get tired of other less enjoyable ones. Monster Tale has enough features and different gameplay to make for a fun and interesting game for both adults and younger players who enjoy games like the Zelda series and Pokémon.

I highly recommend Monster Tale for the Nintendo DS that even with its shortcomings was very well designed, looks and sounds great and most importantly is fun.

Monster Tale @ Majesco