Koei Tecmo is a company known most famously for their Dynasty Warriors series. However, in the past, before being known as Koei Tecmo, Tecmo created a monster raising series for the PlayStation. Many know this series as Monster Rancher (Monster Farm in Japan), or as that show in the late 90’s with collectible creatures that wasn’t Pokémon or Digimon.
Monster Rancher had four main series entries on PlayStation Systems: Monster Rancher & Monster Rancher 2 for the original PlayStation, as well as Monster Rancher 3 & Monster Rancher 4 for the PlayStation 2. Later on, it also had some entries for Nintendo handhelds: Monster Rancher Advance, Monster Rancher Advance 2, and Monster Rancher DS. Monster Rancher also had a few spin-off games, a game for the PlayStation 2 called Monster Rancher Evo, which is an abomination, and most recently an iOS game which is a heavily watered down version of the main series, most closely resembling the GameBoy Advance games.
The Monster Rancher series has a couple of unique traits, the most well known of which is that in the PlayStation games the player can use different discs to unlock monsters, CD’s in the PlayStation games, with the addition of DVD’s in the PlayStation 2 games. The Nintendo entries instead used a password system.
The player is only allowed to raise one monster at a time, but can freeze the monsters they’ve unlocked to save them for later if they want to train them or fuse them with another monster. The player can also feed their monster, play with it to train it, and tell it when to sleep, which each take up a certain amount of time, as passage of time in this game is on a weekly basis. After a certain amount of time passes, monsters get too old and die, which adds some difficulty to the game if the player is trying to get a monster to the highest rank.
The battle system was also interesting because the player only pressed the right and left directional buttons depending on which attack you wanted your monster to use, which also affected the distance between your monster and the opposing monster. If a monster wasn’t well trained, it would either refuse to attack or use an attack the player may have not wanted it to use. Each attack also takes a certain amount of guts, an amount of energy which builds up over time. Back in Monster Rancher 3 players could also change their monsters accessories and environment which could change how the monster looked or how they did in battle.
So why should Koei Tecmo bring this series back? Because we have not had a true Monster Rancher game in about six years, monster collecting games are thriving, and the series brings its own unique spin to the genre. Yo-Kai Watch is insanely popular in Japan, with some popularity in other parts of the world, and is about to have it’s sixth main series game. After the first Yo-Kai Watch, the series went with the Pokémon method and released 2 versions each for Yo-Kai Watch 2 & 3, with updated third versions later on, with the upcoming game being the updated Sukiyaki version of Yo-Kai Watch 3. Digimon has also made a comeback, with last years, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, and the recently released, Digimon World: Next Order. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3 is about to get an updated version with Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3 Professional, although it is unknown if either version will ever come to the west. Even the beloved series, Final Fantasy, finally took a chance at making a fully fledged monster collecting game with World of Final Fantasy. The biggest and most well known monster collecting game of them all, Pokémon has gained relevance once again with the popularity of Pokémon Go, and as a result the games Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon were the most pre-ordered games, downloaded demo, and fastest selling games in Nintendo history. Because of the recent success of the genre, it could be the perfect time for Monster Rancher to make a comeback.
From the last year alone, it is easy to see that Monster Rancher could make a great comeback, and although not quite as popular as Pokémon or Digimon, the biggest problem may be in the method for unlocking monsters. With more and more people going digital, it would be a bit harder to use the old unlock by disc formula, but there are still ways to work around this. They could make the new entry in the series a PlayStation 4 digital exclusive game, that way the game would be able to read whatever disc was inside the console without the threat of crashing, or at least less of one. If they chose to use the disc method, it would be better to bring Monster Rancher back sooner than later, with more people going digital. They could also add the password system from the Nintendo entries as an alternative unlocking method for players who have digital only collections, and maybe having certain games in the library would unlock specific monsters. Something else they could add would be to make some monsters disc or password unlocks only and add an online trading system so that players will be able to get the monsters they want no matter which unlock method they prefer.
It’s uncertain if Monster Rancher will make a comeback someday, since Koei Tecmo is focused on other games at the moment, but maybe one day they will go back to this underappreciated franchise.
Are you a fan of Monster Rancher? What series would you like to see make a comeback on PlayStation 4? Let me know it the comments, and don’t forget to like & follow!