About three years in the past, Studio Aurum pitched Monster Crown on Kickstarter, a monster-battling RPG which wasn’t shy about taking inspiration from a sure in style Game Freak franchise. After making over 9 instances as a lot cash because the preliminary objective, the title then shifted to Early Access on PC, the place it was frequently iterated on and up to date in tandem with neighborhood suggestions. Now it’s 1.0 launch has lastly come to fruition and it’s naturally made its means over to the Switch. Monster Crown gives up an fulfilling, although flawed throwback to easier monster-battling days, nevertheless it in the end proves to be a worthwhile expertise.
Monster Crown is ready within the wild world of Crown Island the place people and monsters don’t a lot stay collectively in concord as they do in begrudging acceptance. For instance, right here you don’t catch any monsters you carry to your crew, however as a substitute type a ‘pact’ that’s primarily a contract for the tamer to supply for the monster’s wants in trade for its powers. You play as a younger, up and coming Monster Tamer from a humble farm, however rapidly get swept up in a plot that places the destiny of Crown Island in your fingers as you repeatedly work together with an anti-hero character centered on putting in a bunch of tyrants. It’s not an particularly impressed story—the monster battling gameplay is clearly the primary draw right here—nevertheless it’s simply attention-grabbing sufficient that it feels worthwhile in the long run.
Gameplay follows a moderately acquainted format, whereby you receive and prepare a crew of as much as eight completely different monsters and pit them towards each wild and tamed foes in easy turn-based battles. Catching monsters is so simple as providing them a pact, which they then learn mid-battle after which both settle for or reject based mostly on components like stage and well being. Each monster will be certainly one of 5 differing types, every of which is resistant to 1 kind and does additional injury to a different, so it’s crucial you construct your crew not simply with conventional roles (DPS, Tank, and so forth.) in thoughts, but additionally with sufficient variety that you could realistically tackle a equally leveled monster of any kind.
Things are blended up a bit with the utilization of the Synergy mechanic, too, which lets you construct a particular meter by both swapping monsters or defending for a flip. There are 4 phases to the Synergy meter, with every consecutive one stacking on new stat bumps and advantages that allow you to actually let ‘er rip when you finally act, though the trade-off is obviously that every turn spent building the meter is one where you aren’t attacking.
It have to be mentioned that fight feels moderately unbalanced in lots of locations, which will be each a optimistic or a destructive relying on the participant. Simply put, it appears like it is a fight system that’s simply exploited or ‘broken’, which may make for some ridiculous wins that really feel nearly unearned. For instance, we got here throughout one early boss that was stage 18, and we opted to open the struggle with a stage 5 monster we caught within the beginning space. We ordered mentioned monster to inflict a poison-like assault on the boss, which promptly took off about 80% of its well being over the following couple turns, making it a straightforward kill for the remainder of our nonetheless under-leveled crew. By all rights, we must always not have received that battle so simply, but it appears moments like this are nearly widespread if you already know what you’re doing. This lack of stability can add a enjoyable aspect to fight, nevertheless it’s tough to discern whether or not that is by design or poor balancing.
A enjoyable offshoot of this matter with balancing is the breeding and fusion system, which gives fairly a little bit of leeway to create a specialised crew to your liking. There are about 200 ‘base’ monsters you possibly can forge a pact with, however every of those will be turned into different monsters through particular gadgets or by way of breeding them to get solely new ones. Going by way of a number of generations and seeing what sorts of loopy mutants you can also make has some amusing moral questions, however provides quite a lot of replayability to the 25-or-so hours it takes to see Monster Crown by way of. Evidently, there are over a thousand completely different monsters as soon as you are taking these components into consideration, so there’s no scarcity of crew comps you possibly can check out right here.
If the one participant side isn’t sufficient, there’s additionally the anticipated suite of multiplayer performance to deal with, which primarily exists to provide you extra leeway to battle or commerce with different gamers. The lack of native multiplayer is a disappointing omission, however there are some cool concepts explored online, comparable to how you should utilize “NET Eggs” to make the most of the genes of one other participant’s monsters as one of many ‘parents’ in breeding, which mainly provides you a random end result. Whether the multiplayer stays lively might be a key hurdle for Monster Crown to beat, nonetheless. It’s not clear whether or not cross play with different variations is offered, and we will simply see this being a sport with a vigorous online scene early on earlier than Switch gamers transfer on.
From a presentation perspective, Monster Crown definitely nails its GBC aesthetic fairly effectively. The easy sprite work provides it an genuine retro really feel and the soundtrack typically sounds eerily just like longtime traditional Pokémon tracks. One space that’s a little bit missing, nonetheless, is the monster design. With 200 base monsters, there are definitely just a few respectable designs to behold, however lots of them look extra just like the sort of factor you’d see in an affordable ROM hack. Things aren’t helped by the shortage of distinct cries for every monster and the practically non-existent battle animations, which may make the uninspired designs appear that a lot flatter. Granted, there are sacrifices that needed to be made to keep up the Game Boy type, nevertheless it appears like extra might’ve been executed in these facets to breathe extra life into the general world.
Unfortunately, we bumped into some noticeable efficiency issues, too, which frankly really feel unacceptable given this type of sport. Running by way of the overworld at excessive velocity is liable to hit you with moderately frequent body price hitches as Monster Crown tries loading within the oncoming property, and we encountered not less than one situation the place a glitched menu choice precipitated the sport to lock, forcing us to shut it and lose about half-hour of progress. Such points aren’t game-breaking and really effectively might be resolved in patches, however simply remember that the launch model feels prefer it might’ve used a little bit extra polish.
Monster Crown is a good sport that falls in need of greatness in just a few areas. Legitimately cool concepts with breeding and an total stable fight system are let down by lackluster monster designs and efficiency points. Then there’s the elephant within the room, which is that Monster Crown in the end appears like a jankier and fewer addictive model of the oldest Pokémon video games. We’d nonetheless give this one a suggestion, because the bones of the expertise are adequate that its price a punt for giant Pokémon followers pining for the 8-bit days, however you may wish to look forward to a sale with this one.