Monster King

Monster King is the second RPG that I’ve played this month that’s missing some key ingredients.  When the core mechanics of your game involve scrolling menus, you have to really jazz things with witty dialog, a compelling story, or charismatic characters.  If you have none of that, it’s like serving a customer a bowl of warm water and calling it the Soup of the Day.

Today, I ordered a big bowl of Cream of Void because Monster King has the personality of a mannequin.  You play as a dude who has to, um, do something.  If it was explained, I forgot it.  Probably save the kingdom.  It’s always about one dude saving the kingdom.  Don’t these kingdoms ever have a standing army?  Here’s a thought: since in these classic RPGs, the “kingdom” usually consists of a dozen or so towns, each populated by between 4 and 10 people, why not just gather everyone up and move to a new kingdom?  One with better infrastructure, a standing army, and monsters not camping just outside the border of every town?  Come to think of it, why are there never monsters in the towns?  You’re a lone hero who is attempting to save the entire kingdom, armed to the teeth, and you still have to stock up on potions and regenerative magic.  The towns are populated by five idiots who say the same line of dialog every time you try to converse with them.  The monsters should be able to steamroll over them in like five seconds.  These games never make any sense.

It would have been cooler if he was standing by the dock of the bay, even though there’s nothing to do there either, besides watching the tide roll away.

The hook of Monster King is that you can capture enemies when they’re weakened and then use them during battle.  It’s not exactly Pokemon, because you can only use each monster once during a battle.  However, the magic and monster system are basically the same idea.  Use fire against things made of wood, water against things made of fire, Bengay against things made of old people, etc.  Figuring out which enemies work on others is a little trickier, and most enemies pack a pretty decent punch, so you don’t have time to experiment.  Your defense never upgrades when you level up, probably to keep the game from getting too easy, so you have to camp out near towns so you can refill your health and magic points every-other battle.  Are we having fun yet?

Monster King does make an effort to have some form of humor in it, but it really doesn’t work all that well.  Here, humor comes in the form of jokes from the towns people.  The one that stuck with me is “people ask me if I’ve lived here my whole life.  I tell them no, not yet.”  That’s about as sophisticated as it gets.  For the most part, it’s just go to town, buy weapons, fight monsters, level up, slap yourself in the face to prevent yourself from falling asleep, explore caves, and fight bosses.  However, Monster King is more stripped down than Mortal Legacies in some other aspects.  Weapons and armor are automatically equipped, you can’t hock any old ones, and stores do not sell potions.  After playing for over an hour, I never found any item stronger than the standard potion, which can only be got out of treasure chests.  MP can only be restored by sleeping at an inn or leveling up.  Thus, the already boring gameplay is really taken to its most basic level of design.  I don’t get why people make games like this anymore.  This doesn’t feel like a game someone made because it was something they wanted to play.  It seems more like a game that someone made to see if they could.  That’s fine.  That’s how you learn.  But maybe it’s best to not attempt to sell that game.

Status? Sleepy, getting sleepier.

I was ready to write off Monster King as competent and functional, but as shallow as refrigerator condensation.  And then, it happened.  What happened?  Well, I was fighting snowmen and grinding up my XP.  I had just fought a boss, had leveled up a couple of times, bought some new armor, and was about to buy a new sword.  Then I got a message from a friend asking if I could check to see how much something on the Xbox marketplace cost.  I scooted over to the town, slept in the inn, saved the game, and turned it off.  I returned just a few minutes later and loaded up my game.  Only my game was from about twenty minutes before my last save, meaning I had to fight the boss again and make up for the five levels I had climbed and then lost.  I am not sure how this happened.  I typically save XBLIG files to my memory card.  Hang on, let me check and see if I accidentally saved it to the hard drive.

Nope.  No save file found on my hard drive.  Mind you, I’m hyper-compulsive about saving in games.  When I was a kid, I went a little too long between saves playing Kingdom Hearts, and a power-outage resulted in my first legitimate gaming rage moment.  My SpongeBob pillow suffered one lost limb and three stab wounds of unknown origin (pssss, it was from a nail file).  Since then, I’ve been vigilant about saving.  And so I did save after every level-up.  But, come to think of it, the game was a little weird about when the save happened more than the one time.  I did die after a battle or two.  Sometimes I would go back to my previous save spot, but more often I would go back further.  Obviously something is not working here.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have recommended Monster King anyway.  Like Mortal Legacies, it seemed like a good first-attempt, but not a game I could recommend spending actual money on.  But, I’m sure there are people out there who are looking for bland, one-dimensional time wasters.  If that’s the case, and the save thing doesn’t discourage you, knock yourself out with Monster King.  Or, here’s a better idea: go see a fucking doctor because you obviously have no pulse.

Monster King was developed by NickB

80 Microsoft Points wondered why the tree that is brandishing a gun is called the “Tree Killer.”  Wouldn’t “Killer Tree” make more sense?  I mean, I guess it could be killing trees when it’s not attacking professional monster slayers like a dumbass.  But if that was the case, why does it have a gun?  Guns aren’t very effective at killing trees, unless it’s a gun that fires big bullets.  Like a cannon, but that really isn’t a gun.  It should have been brandishing a chainsaw, which would have been a good chance to add humor to the game.  I mean, a tree that uses a chainsaw?  Ironic comedy.  A tree with a gun?  Just weird.

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6 Responses to Monster King

  1. For one buck it was OK, two days of grinding and mindlessness. I did break the game by hitting level 31. Got a code 4.
    I do want to go back and beat the game to see if there is an alternate ending. I don’t want to spoil it though.
    Wish the developer would have tested the XP system more fully.

    The review was OK with the exception of the final line. I mean to give a full and fair rating for a game you should beat the game. There are hundreds if not more indie games that are worse than this one. I am by no means saying it is great, but if a buck gives you 2 days of off and on game play – why not?!?!?!?

    • Hi Don. I personally did not get two days worth of entertainment out of this, or a single minute for that matter. My reviews make no attempt to mask my feelings or “be objective.” My reviews are subjective to my personal tastes.

      I do attempt to beat every game, but when the save system didn’t work, I felt I had fulfilled my obligation as a critic, because people are going to expect to save their games without error, and this game doesn’t offer that.

      I also fully reject the notion of “it’s only a dollar”. These days, $1 buys a LOT in gaming on several platforms, from XBLIG to iOS to PC to Android. So a game can no longer fall back on the “it’s just a dollar” argument, because there are thousands of games that are now “just a dollar” and many of those are of exceptional quality.

  2. I agree that making a game to see if you can, or to hone your skills, is absolutely fine. I also agree that these games, if not fully functional or simply not very good, shouldn’t be sold. If it’s a case of “Let’s see if I can make something resembling an RPG”, don’t charge people money for it. As soon as you release it as a commercial product, you put yourself on the market with professionals and skilled amateurs, and your game will be judged accordingly.

  3. Benaiah says:

    For those who loved Dragon Warrior, which was obviously WAY before Gamer Chick’s time, this bare bones clone is a good time waster for a day or so. I finished it in about 4 hours grinding to level 31 only to have the game break (Code 4) making it impossible for me to see the ending.

    While that defintely sucks, and I think the people responsible for this game need to update the error, $1 is a fair price for those who want a trip down memory lane. Games today can have campaigns lasting 6 to 8 hours and we gladly pay $60 like zombies so $1 is NOT too much to ask for 4 or so hours.

    As for Gamer Chick’s analysis of having a multitude of games for $1, if you are playing on consoles and solely on consoles, then no it isn’t easy to find a lot of $1 games that are good. And finally, my advice to Gamer Chick would be to get herself a NES and play Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy and any other old school RPG and then come back and play this game.

    Then and only then can she offer a fair and honest review.

    • So my opinion is neither fair nor honest because I haven’t played two unrelated games? What about those who couldn’t give two squirts about those two games and want something that is good on its own?

      Oh, and the game was so good for you that it crashed right before the ending. I do believe if your standards were any lower you would stub your toes on them.

      By the way, I’ve managed to find over 100 games that are $1 or under that are good on Xbox alone. And I’m just one person.

    • Jim Perry says:

      “Then and only then can she offer a fair and honest review.”

      That’s nonsense. Games have to be able to stand or fall on their own.

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