It's always a risky proposition when you create a spin-off of an already established and popular franchise, so when Enix decided to take the theme of their hugely popular Dragon Quest series and build a monster-hunting title around it, some RPG fans were more than a little skeptical. To make it even more of a challenge, they decided to develop this new title on Nintendo's Game Boy system. But when it was all said and done, Enix was somehow able to capture much of the charm and personality of their Dragon Quest series and inject it into one of the most addictive and engrossing monster-hunting titles ever crafted. Not only does the game offer an almost unlimited source of replay value, but it also offers up a very RPG-like quest in the process. The result is one of the most unique and captivating Game Boy titles available and a game that's still highly regarded among the RPG community, even all these years later.
While there are many traditional RPG game play elements strung throughout Dragon Warrior Monsters, at its core the game is still basically a monster-hunting title. It's your job as the monster master to travel through various areas, doing battle with the many monsters you come into contact with and trying to lure them into joining your team. The farther into the game you get, the stronger and more powerful the monsters you encounter become. Of course the more powerful the monsters, the more difficult they are to tame. You can even breed your collected monsters to form even more powerful monsters with unique skill sets.
As with most RPGs, your main goal is to complete the quest laid before you. In Dragon Warrior Monsters, your ultimate goal is to train an unbeatable team of monsters in order to win the Starry Night Tournament and get your captured sister back. As you acquire more powerful monsters, you'll be able to win battles that will open up special Traveler Gates that will allow you to warp to areas where you can capture and level up your monsters. And with over 200 monsters to breed and capture, you'll never be at a loss for things to do in the game.
The combat system is a fairly basic turn-based system that allows you to choose the actions you want your monsters to carry out. You yourself don't actually fight during battles, rather you let your monsters do the work for you. If you've trained them correctly, you should have no trouble doing battle. You can even use magical and curative items during battle to keep your monsters in top fighting condition. It's this simple, yet extremely playable game play system that makes the title such a joy to play. And with hundreds of breeding combinations, you'll find that part of the game even more engrossing than the actual quest. There's no feeling quite like the one you get when you breed one of the more powerful monsters in the game.
The visuals in Dragon Warrior Monsters are actually pretty basic, but they get the job done considering the type of game this actually is. The various areas you'll warp to are all randomly generated, so you'll never be at a loss for variety in your surroundings. This also makes it less redundant when you find yourself having to trek through the same Traveler Gate multiple times in order to level up your monsters properly. The monsters themselves are all quite impressively drawn out on the small Game Boy screen, but the lack of any type of animation can make them look a bit drab during battles. It's a small price to pay considering the huge number of monsters that are available in the game.
Great musical scores have long been a staple of the Dragon Quest series and Dragon Warrior Monsters is no exception. While there aren't a lot of tunes to choose from, those that are found in the game are very impressive, especially considering the Game Boy system's limited sound capabilities. You'll get to hear the handful of tunes played quite often during your trips through each Gate area, but the tunes are so catchy and melodic you certainly won't mind the slight repetition. The sound effect that pops up when your party is drawn into a battle is a bit grating at times, especially considering how often you'll be hearing it, but this is a small price to pay for what is an otherwise top shelf Game Boy musical presentation.
There are very few Game Boy titles that contain the mammoth amount of playability that Enix has been able to squeeze into Dragon Warrior Monsters. While the quest itself will easily keep you engrossed, it's the monster capturing and breeding that will keep you coming back to the title for countless hours, even after you've likely finished the quest itself. Whether you're a fan of the Dragon Quest series or not, you owe it to yourself to check this amazing title out. It's easily one of the most engrossing Game Boy titles ever created and a true testament to what could be done on the Game Boy system when developers took the time to get it right.