Crystal Monsters Review
Posted by Marcel van Duyn
You don't want these monsters in your pocket, but they're still fun to have around
It's usually clear within the first few minutes of playing a new Gameloft game which franchise it's been "inspired" by. Not breaking tradition, the same holds true here, with Gameloft's latest bearing a very strong resemblance to none other than the Pokémon series. Yet another port of a mobile phone game, this one was strangely only originally released in Japan, for some reason.
You take the role of a student at a school that teaches pupils about the game's titular monsters. Although it seems like this is all they teach at the school, which also seems to be the only school there is, anybody can attend, despite most people not even being able to see, let alone own and train monsters. You quickly discover that you somehow simply had not unlocked your potential just yet, and you quickly get to choose one of three monsters to own yourself.
After that it's just one similarity after the other. You travel from town to town, going through dungeons and tournaments to become the best trainer by fighting monsters, and there's breeding and more. As you can probably guess, just like in Pokémon, if a monster if sufficiently weakened in battle, you can then attempt to catch it (by rapidly button mashing, annoyingly enough) and use it for yourself, as well. Although you seem to be able to have as many monsters as you want, only up to three of them can be active in battle. In a small twist, each of them gets to attack once per turn, rather than only actually using one at a time.
As opposed to the series it's quite clearly based on, most of your battles do not come in the form of other trainers. There are practically none, in fact, and you'll be gaining most of your experience by fighting wild monsters in dungeons, which have a chance of appearing with every step you take.
The combat itself is pretty familiar as well – your monsters tend to start off with one generic attack (Bash, Bite and the like) and one special attack, which requires a few special points to use. With almost every attack, you'll be treated to some always-exciting action commands, where pressing the button at the right time will deliver additional hits and deal extra damage.
Each monster is also of a certain element or type, so you can expect water-based monsters to deal a lot of damage to fire creatures, for example. As they level up, they'll gain additional moves, and you can also eventually let them evolve, which doesn't really do anything other than make them a slightly different colour and add "Plus" to their name, to boost their attack and defence.
The game's controls out of battle are quite awkward and unresponsive – there seems to be a delay between you pushing the button and your character actually moving, and it's even worse when attempting to move diagonally. Thankfully there are touchscreen controls as well, but even though they're slightly better you'll still find yourself having issues getting your character to do things. Interacting with NPCs or opening chests for example might take several taps before succeeding, because you have to be really, really precise.
The graphics and music are your typical Gameloft fare: technically nice-looking and sounding, but pretty dull overall. The music especially might get on your nerves, as there's only a few tracks, which means they'll be played very often.
Although it might be almost sickening to Pokémon fans to see how similar this is to their beloved franchise, we can't really be too critical of it. It's only 500 DSi Points (300 less than most Gameloft games), and for what it is, it's actually quite a decent, if simple, imitation.