It has been seven years since the last proper Dragon Quest Monsters title (Joker 3, back on the 3DS), and that one wasn’t released in English. It has been 12 years since the last Dragon Quest Monsters game was released in English (Joker 2, on the DS). It was worth the wait. Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is quite possibly the finest monster collecting game on the Nintendo Switch… and there are many of those on the Nintendo Switch.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is a self-contained story that doesn’t require you to have played another Dragon Quest game before (though I cannot imagine that anyone interested inthis has not played Dragon Quest games in the past). However, for with Dragon Quest, The Dark Prince fits in nicely with the overall series. It’s a prequel to Dragon Quest IV (i.e. the one) that casts you as the villain, Psaro, before he becomes the monster that he is. Here we learn more his backstory, understand why he humans so much, and, yes, develop some sympathy for him. The guy had a horrible and traumatic childhood, basically, and it’s a little understandable how he became so bitter about the world as a result.
Right at the start, Psaro is targeted by a hex, which prevents him from harming monsters. This is, given the line of work he is in, a problem. Thankfully he quickly learns how to charm over monsters and then have them do his bidding and bloody work in combat in his stead. From there Psaro travels from world to world, building hisconfront the one that cursed him (who also happens to be his father), and finally extract revenge.
People don’t tend to come to monster-collecting games for particularly detailed narratives (Shin Megami Tensei being the major exception), but the effort that went into The Dark Prince is impressive, particularly given that previous Dragon Quest Monsters titles were light-on for narrative, even by the genre’s standards. You’re still doing the same things in The Dark in that you’re traveling through large worlds, collecting and breeding monsters, and keeping an eye on the goal, which is the Coliseum. Win and you can story.
But with a greater story giving you context and reason to progress through the story, The Dark Prince is simply better. It’s not a particularly intelligent or philosophical narrative.learn much about the human condition, nor muse or morality. But it is well-written, features Dragon Quest’s trademark humour (albeit with a dark edge given the journey you’re following), and is paced nicely.
There are more than 500 monsters in The Dark Prince, and while nothing will likely ever compare to the simple charms of the slimes and monsters, there are plenty of new faces here, and they’re all entertaining in their own way.
have always been the underlying appeal of Dragon Quest. As far back as the first game, when Akira Toriyama was tasked with coming up with a monster design that wouldn’t appear too threatening as the first enemy that would introduce many players to the idea of a JRPG, and so came up with the slime, the enemy designs have been a great propellant for Dragon Quest. When you know that each new area is going to introduce you to new, wacky, entertaining monsters to fight and tame, there’s a strong reason to keep pushing on to the next new area.
The Dark Prince nails this by dolling out the monstersa good rate, without oversaturating the game with too much energy. You’ve got plenty of time to every new beast in an area before moving on to the next each monster having distinct skill trees, you’re also given plenty of incentive to try them all out and work out what combinations are right for you.
And then, once you’ve decided you’ve had enough of a monster, it’s time to fuse them with another beast to create an entirely new monster, and this is where the real fun begins. Only monsters of level 10 or higher can be bred, and doing so makes both parents disappear. However, the all-new monster left behind after the fusion can inherit the skill trees of its parents, and as you develop the lineage by leveling, breeding, leveling again and breeding again, you can create some monsters that are delightfully broken and ridiculously powerful, even if they share the design of something much weaker.
Messing around with this system requires some careful planning, forward-thinking, and strategy, and it’s exceptionally rewarding to the meticulous. You can get through The Dark Prince without totally mastering this system (though you’ll want to do some good fusions at least a few times to speedHowever, you’ll get the most out of the game by being playful and creative with it. It’s one of the most balanced games I’ve ever come across in terms of rewarding and casual players, and just to show how carefully considered the team at Square Enix has been with this project.
The combat system itself is vintage Dragon Quest, with all the turn-based hijinks, as well as uniquely named and wacky special abilities that come with that. For people who simply want to trust in their team-building skills, it’s also possible to select an auto-attack optionthe AI take over. Things start slowly with this combat system, as monsters unlock abilities slowly through once you start fusing them together, the depth of strategic exponentially.
The only thing I don’t like about the whole combat system is theIn Dragon Quest Monsters, you woo monsters to your side with a “show of strength,” which involves all four of your party members flexing their critter muscles to boost the percentage chance of a successful recruitment. Once the four percentages have been tallied, that’s the final Fail and that enemy will get mad power boost instead.
The problem with this system is that it makes recruiting Pokémon, if you are squared off against a more powerful monster, you can still inflict it with status use a more valuable poké ball to improve your chances of catching it. In Dragon Quest Monsters, you can use food the chances, but it’s more likely that you’re going to have to do a combination of fusions and grinding first, and then to an area to capture a powerful monster.monsters impossible. In a game like
Dragon Quest Monster’s only other issue is that it’s too ambitioushardware. The worlds that you explore are fairly large, and suffer from the of pop-in issues that are common to open worlds on the Switch. With the anime aesthetic, however, it’s arguably more noticeable than with more realistically-themed games. Given that this game was built specifically for the Switch, it might have been better to have a more modest scope. However, on the plus side, Dragon Quest Monsters a seasonal system in place, with the environment shifting between autumn, winter, spring and brings visual style, and unveils new secrets and areas to explore. That’s a really touch that helps make returning to previous continue to explore them.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is an exceptional returnone of Square Enix’s most under-appreciated properties. With Pokémon through a rare period where it’s not meeting nearly universal acclaim, perhaps this is the opportunity for this series to finally break some 25 years after it first launched on Game Boy Color.
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