MONSTER RANCHER 2 / Tecmo / PlayStation

Monster Rancher 2 is a lazy sequel to the original game, cranked out in about a year and a half. It got a head-scratching amount of 80-90% review scores when it came out, which I don't get save for the "rifle through your CD collection to generate monsters" concept still being novel and exciting at the time. I'm having trouble finding good documentation of changes made between the two games, save for introducing some new monster types here.

It's one of those games that really feels more like an expansion pack than an actual sequel. Thus, there will be more appeal to those who invested a lot of time in the first game - you can transfer monsters over (you'll get a "baby" version here with reduced stats, but still likely better than most starting options), and you'll already have an understanding of the game's rather opaque and poorly-documented training and monster breeding processes.

Monster Rancher 2 pulls the good ol' Pokemon trick of just inventing a new continent with a new league, so we can basically do the whole first game's process over from the beginning. This game is apparently taking place concurrent with the first game but in a different part of the world. Your faceless trainer is launched into this all-consuming ranching life (Tecmo is aware that "ranching" generally means selling what you raise for food, right?) with as little preamble as possible. It's another low-dialogue, low-personality world full of grim, sad people who live only for the endless grind of training and Mandingo-ing these poor monsters.

The game is really a time-management "visual novel" at its core, but an incredibly simple one that offers very little to actually do. The main focus is on winning tournaments with your monster, but those only pop up once every several in-game months (8-12 turns or so) and you won't even be basically competitive in them without a very long stint of initial training.

The game's main problem is that it gives you no compelling reason to play it right out of the gate. Unless you can unlock really good monsters from a CD, you're stuck with a collection of total garbage losers that will take absolutely forever to train up just to place well in the lowest-level batch of tournaments. And "training" is nothing more than the same small selection of non-interactive tasks over and over and over and over and over. It takes at least an in-game year to train one of the starting monsters up to even have a chance at winning the easiest tournament level, but monsters only tend to live like three or four years. So the idea is to constantly be cycling through and breeding different monsters together to eke out little improvements over the generations, which is an unimaginably long and tedious process.

And the only escape from this is CD collections, which are not really a thing anymore as we sit here in the futuristic year of 2020. You can use a few other games as well, but mostly Tecmo games that are now pricey on the secondhand market. So the game's central conceit and point of appeal really did not age well, doomed to die along with CDs. There just aren't any really compelling reasons to go back to this game.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video