June 18, 2012 6 Comments
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.
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.
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.