Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker


posted 12/6/2007 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
Platforms: DS
Yeah I used that one for Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner, feel free to file a complaint with Charles. Seriously though, if you’ve got the latest Pokemon for either GBA or DS then you’re playing a game that Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker borrows heavily from, it just has a glossy coat of Square-Enix paint all over it. But by no means is Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker a bad game. It’s actually pretty good, but it’s also pretty derivative, and it has a few things that are certainly Dragon Quest-esque, one of which being the at times ridiculous learning curve and the absolute need to grind to get through the game. These things hurt the game, but they don’t detract enough that you should avoid the game. In fact if you’re not in to Pokemon and don’t have a PSP then this is a game that you should think about picking up.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is a game that’s very light on story, as you take up the role of Joker (or whatever you feel like calling him) as he heads off to take part in the Monster Scout Challenge in the Green Bays which is a set of islands that is teeming with monsters big and small. Basically this equates to catchin- I mean scouting them all, in an attempt to become the greatest Monster Scout in the Green Bays. The light story makes it difficult to put this game down for prolonged periods of time. I put the game down for a few days and came back at a loss on where I should be going next. The upside to this snag was that I had a lot of time to level up my monsters, which is something that this game demands a lot of the player.

Scouting monsters is the means to winning the Monster Scout Challenge, which means as you find more and more monsters and have them grow, you will be able to convince other monsters to throw in their chips with you by giving them a taste of your power. When you want to get a monster to join up with you then you’ll have your monsters show off the power they’ve acquired while serving under you. As your team deals damage to the prospect the target monster becomes impressed with the show of power which in turn fills a meter that gives you a percentage chance to have the monster join you. Provided they like what they see then they will join you, or they’ll get pissed off and attack your party while in a buffed state.

This game looks pretty good for a DS title, but at the same time it’s difficult to make out the details on the smaller enemies. Textures also look quite muted, and blurred out. The characters themselves look good when you see them up close, but when they get slightly out of focus you can see the designs created by Level5 go to waste. Audio at teams feel decidedly old-school which is a welcome sound to the ears. The fact that the win battle music is still the same after all these years brings a smile to my face. The rest of the soundtrack is very good for a DS soundtrack, which is pretty par for the course with Square-Enix portable titles.

Square-Enix does a few things with Joker that are welcome changes to the monster capturing style of gameplay. Once monsters reach level 10 they can be synthesized with other monsters to create newer more powerful monsters with a hybrid of their abilities, and it’s a simple process without having to go through raising an egg and such. Instead you just have them start over at level one. This at times can be counter intuitive since it makes the player return to lower level sections just to keep the lower level team members from dying. Like I said before this game requires a lot of grinding from the player as this game has difficulty that is right up there with your typical Dragon Quest game. It’s a little jarring though to move from island to island only to realize your monsters are about five levels lower than where they need to be. Especially when it costs you half of the money your currently possess. This is thankfully softened by the ability to deposit money, so if you know you’re about to run into a tough area then make sure you drop the money in to the ATM.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker provides a good spin on the monster collecting style of gameplay, and it is definitely more challenging than what the other companies out there provide. If you can get past the lackluster story and the sometimes unforgiving difficulty, then you’ll find a rewarding title that will easily give you a good thirty hours of gameplay. But if you were never in to collecting monsters and telling them to do your dirty work then this could be a rental.
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