Review: Monster Tale (DS) ~ Are You Ready, Chomp?

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Wikipedia entry

Last week when I was writing about Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, I wanted to reference Monster Tale. To my surprise, I haven’t written a review or talked about this game in full on my blog. So, that’s why I’m going to fix that right now. Let’s tell the tale on one of the best Nintendo DS games ever made. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game. For now, let’s ready, set, go!

Are you ready, Chomp?

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In this game, you take the role of Ellie. A young girl that gets dragged into a world filled with monsters. It doesn’t take long before she meets a monster that hatches right in front of her and follows her around as if she was the mother. She decides to name the monster Chomp.

Then, Jinx, a shopkeeper explains what the world is.  There are other humans in the Monster World and they are king of their own domain.

Now, Ellie and Chomp go on a quest to try and defeat these evil Kid-Kings and try to get them all home.

The reason I stay pretty vague about the story is simple. This game is a very nicely written plot and talking about it more would spoil it. The characters might be cliche here and there, but I really liked the chemistry between the characters. To this day, I still remember the characters and their role in the story by just looking at screenshots or hearing their theme.

The story is a blast to experience from start to finish. All 10 hours of it. Yes, all 10 hours of it. This game is criminally short. You can squeeze a few more hours out of the game when you want to fully complete it.

There is voice acting in this game, but no full lines are voice acted. Some of the major characters have some spoken phrases or noises but nothing really more. Which is a darn shame since the whole voice cast is extremely talented amine dub voice actors. On the other hand, it helps with the charm that this game has quite a lot.

I especially love the grunts of Ellie and the noises Chomp make. They are so adorable and made me fall in love with this game. It’s still a mystery how the adorable and cute game can tackle serious subject matter like what’s presented in this game. So, I hope that you are ready since you and Chomp are going on an adventure.

Metroidvania

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Back when I first played this game, I hadn’t really played a lot of Metroid or Castlevania games. I had heard about both series but I haven’t played them. That all changed when I started to play this game.

The gameplay is your typical Metroidvania game. You explore this world and fight monsters on your way. Don’t be fooled by the visuals, this game isn’t easy at all.

This game is unforgiving sometimes and you really have to learn how each move works and how to use the special items provided to you.

This game has a lot of depth as well. There are three enemy types; fire, water, and earth. These work on a rock, paper scissors theme. So, you will have to keep in mind which version of Chomp you level up and bring with you. Yes, you can level up Chomp. While it’s not 100% needed to unlock all versions of Chomp to defeat the final boss of the game, it’s highly recommended that you level up at least one form quite a lot.

During combat, enemies can drop various items like footballs, books, slingshots, ice cream, camera’s… to help Chomp level up. Some dropped items even have additional benefits, like the football bounces around on the top screen.

Now is a good time to address the top and bottom screen, since it’s used in this game to its full potential. On the top, you have the Monster World that Ellie is exploring. You can have Chomp with you for a limited amount of time. That’s what the yellow bar on the 2nd screen is for. This bar drains as soon as Chomp is in the Monster World.

You can let the bar recharge when Chomp is resting in his den, which is the bottom screen. Once there, the bar recharges and he can experiment and learn about the various items that enemies drop. There is also another catch, each version of Chomp has different attributes, abilities and special powers to play around with.

Now, I love the risk and reward system of the combat. There are a lot of ways to handle a situation. One possible option is to let Chomp handle the enemies. Another possible situation is to shoot the enemies down and another is to melee combat. Now, you would argue that the melee combat sounds useless. Well, I would agree with you there but there is a limit to your shooting ability. When the 2nd bar on the 2nd screen, the blue one, depletes; you can’t shoot anymore. You can recharge this bar at save points or by finding rare blue orbs in the world or as drops. But the easiest way is to melee defeat enemies.

Now, there is a lot more done with the mechanics of the two screens and I have to tell that I really liked it. The combat is extremely challenging to do but in a fun way. Also, no playthrough feels and plays the same since you have so many different ways to tackle the situation.

In addition to that, you never get lost on what to do next since the next spot you need to go to is always indicated on the map. I have no idea if there is an option to disable this, but I think it’s a very useful feature.

Gameplay-wise, this game is extremely addictive. There are a lot of power-ups for Ellie and various forms for Chomp. So, this game quickly becomes a balancing act on who to power up with your hard earned cash. Do invest in both, since otherwise, you will regret it later.

Control-wise, this game is solid. While in very few occasions, the ground pound move was a bit tricky to pull off, but that was a minor annoyance. Since, when you die in this game, you get quickly put back to the latest checkpoint. Now, if there is one thing I really disliked in this game is the lack of teleports.

There is a lot of backtracking in this game. That’s the biggest problem I have with this game. The Castlevania have teleport stones, but Monster Tale doesn’t have that. That’s the biggest flaw this game has. Besides being criminally short that is.

Save often!

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So, this game doesn’t have an autosave. At certain locations, you come across a book where you can save. There, you can recharge every meter to it’s fullest potential. These rooms are highly needed since the lower your hearts, the more tricky this game can become.

Something I will never get tired of with this game is the presentation. This game looks amazing. It’s clear that a lot of love has been put in the creation of this game. The backgrounds of each zone look stunning, vibrant and have a lot of detail.

The colors pop and they build an amazing atmosphere. I especially love the beach zone since it has a lot of memories for me. As a kid, I took a lot of trips to the seaside with my family and I love to sit on the beach and watch the sea do its thing.

Besides that, the monster design is adorable. In some cases, I didn’t even want to hurt the enemies. They all have unique designs and patterns, it’s tricky to kill them. Both since they look so good and some have very unique killing patterns.

Now, the soundtrack of this game is good. While there are some tracks that I find mediocre, the overall package is a blast to listen to. It really pumps you up to continue. You won’t regret hearing these tunes during gameplay and even outside. I played the soundtrack in the background while I was writing this article and I actually heard the various enemy noises and the various other sounds in my head.

This proves that this game has an amazing audio design. To this day, I still remember sound effects and music from the game. And that’s what I mean with that this game will leave a visual impression on you. The game is not only pretty but also sounds pretty.

The animations are fluid and the game runs at a very stable frame rate. I actually don’t remember the game ever dropping frames. Also, I really like how there are two save slots. This way you have tried for two very different runs.

In terms of the UI, there is one minor thing I have to complain about. It’s actually extremely nitpicky but I really find the use of the start and select buttons to switch between the menu’s a bit too much. The start and select buttons on the DS Lite are extremely small. Besides, I wished they merged the map screen and the other menu into one option. Maybe an ability to select from the pause screen if you wanted to see the map screen or the evolution screen of Chomp.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left a few things unexplained for when you are interested in giving this game a chance. You will be surprised. But, it’s time for the section of the review of the people who need a tl;dr. Time for the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

-The pause menu could be reorganised a bit better.

-The harsh difficulty could be a turn off for some people.

-The game is really short.

-No teleporting in the game.

The good:

+ Amazing Metroidvania game.

+ Great story.

+ Amazing visual and sound presentation.

+ This game oozes charm.

+ Great controls.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you highly enjoy the 2D Castlevania games, the Metroid games or any other Metroidvania game and you are looking for something more light-hearted, then Monster Tale is your game. This game looks and sounds amazing.

Besides a few minor flaws, this game comes highly recommended. It’s a big shame that the remake for 3DS actually fell through and that the original developers of this game went bankrupt.

If you see this game for sale, pick it up and play it. It’s one of the best games on the DS. I wish more people knew about it so another developer could pick up the IP and make a sequel to it.

On the other hand, the ending wraps up things extremely nicely and makes for an amazing package. Due to the various possible playstyles, this game is highly replayable. But, it’s the complete experience that will stay with you. And that’s what makes this game so memorable and unique.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 99/100

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Gaming Music – My Favorites #10: Ten to see.

timthumbDon’t mind the title please. A title of an old Belgian TV show fitted well here. “Tien om te zien.” or freely translated: “Ten to see.” was an interesting music show at one of the cities at the beach. But in this series I talk about my favorite video game music. I’m not allowed to put more then one track of a series in one article and I’m only allowed to post originals. Remixes aren’t allowed. Although, I think I’m going to allow it in this special article. I’ll give you 5 remixes or video game related songs and 5 of my favorite video game music tracks. Enjoy listing to them while I talk briefly about my memories, why I selected the track or something else. Anyways, feel free to leave a comment on the content of this article and or with your opinion and or your favorite video game music tracks. 

Game related tracks and remixes

#1: Dj S3RL – Green Hills

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I was on the train when I suddenly heard some Sega sound effects playing. I wondered to myself, since when did I put the soundtrack of Sonic on my mobile? It turned out that I found another track of S3RL that is very game related.

When I heard it for the first time, I was hooked. Together with Pika Girl, these are my favorite tracks of this DJ.

The people who know me in real life know that I adore electronic melodic and fast music. This remix fits the bill perfectly. It doesn’t even have the annoying stop for the sound effect as in the Pika Girl song. Give it a listen for sure!

#2: SkyMarshall Arts – Forever Gamer

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Wouldn’t it be a shame if I didn’t talk about SkyMarshall Arts? I mean, this guy made some album names referencing gaming culture.

The only thing I dislike about this song is that it’s rather slow. It’s a trance song, so it’s slow by definition. But I told you guys earlier, I’m more into faster songs.

Yet, I really enjoy this song. Just listen to it and enjoy the lyrics. I can truly relate to the feelings in that … appear (?) in the song. Oh, and when you enjoy this kind of music, don’t hesitate! Give the other songs of this artist a listen. He makes some pretty good stuff.

 #3: Midibar Remix – Bravely Default – That Person’s Name Is

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I already talked about another remix of this game in one of my previous game music specials. So, since I wanted to talk about more then one track, I had to wait until a chance like this one to talk about it.

This lovely tune is a remade theme for battles and it sounds even more catchy then the in game variant.

The music sounds and feels more alive. The big difference is the ending. I love how the ending of the ingame track doesn’t loop out. So you can barely hear where the track starts or stops.

Well, the people who remember the game music better then I do at then when I’m writing this article… Is it really as good as I’m telling here. I’m kind of sure, I’m telling the truth. Now, let’s wait for the next special to talk about another remix.

#4: PokeRemix Studio – Game Studio Remix

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How do you make an extremely catchy and memorable song even “worse”? You make an awesome remix of this song of course.

This song appeared while I was doing research about the history of Pokémon. I started listing to it and since then it’s a proud part of a my collection folder of amazing game theme remixes.

Now that I’m listing to it again, I feel that this tune should go to my mobile. I love it that much. While I enjoy listing to remixes, only the best ones I put on my phone. Since those are songs I need to be able to listen to over and over again without getting bored of them. That’s mostly because I forget to put on new music frequently.

Anyways, I won’t spoil anything about this track. It’s up to you to listen to it. But let me tell you, it’s a catchy Pokémon tune made even more catchy. Be warned in advance.

#5: ZREO Orchestra – The Legend Of Zelda series

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Link to their Wind Waker Orchestra

I’m terribly sorry that I didn’t talk about this group before. Each and every Zelda fan has the right to know about the group.

The melodies of the Legend Of Zelda series are translated so well into an amazing orchestrated piece of music. Amazingly, as good as every main theme series game got an orchestral “remix”. I’m a bit sad to see that my favorite games didn’t get their whole soundtrack remixed (yet)

You could visit their website, but the last time I visited it, it was down for I think construction.

Anyways, you should really give these guys a listen! They are totally worth it. Please, don’t come complaining to me when you became addicted to their music.

Game music tracks

#6: Chrono Trigger DS – Chrono’s Theme

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I heard a lot of rumors about this game. That it’s a good game and all. At first I looked at it as one of those popular JRPG’s with a deep story that got a cult following. Rather recently I started playing.

I directly understood why this game is seen as one of the better JRPG’s. It’s such an amazing game.

What is even more mindblowing is the fact that the “remake” on the DS is more of a port then a remake. The music even sounds and has the feel from the SNES area.

I just fell in love with this game. I had to put it down for a bit recently due to a section where I needed to grind. And you guys all know how much I hate that. But in any case, give the soundtrack a listen and give the game a shot! It’s very worth it.

#7: Ducktales Remastered – African Mines

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Time for some nostalgia. The DuckTales games bring a lot of memories back to me. I never owned a DuckTales game but I was always allowed to lend it from a cousin of mine.

One-a-days, I barely see or talk to that cousin, but when I started playing DuckTales Remastered on Steam and heard the music, like the African Mines, the memories came back in full force.

It made me put down the controller for a second and take it all in. You should do that with this track too. It’s really that good and catchy on it’s own.

#8: Kirby Triple Deluxe – Techno Factory

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I only recently finished this game’s main story. It was quite a fun game. I agreed to myself that I only played this game on the train to work. That’s so hard, since this is an amazingly addictive and fun game.

While a lot of hardcore gamers say that Kirby is too easy, please consider that it might be aimed at the youngest gamers. Besides, you can make yourself some rules like not using Kirby’s copying abilities to make the game harder.

Anyways, enough of that. I am planning to write a review of this game sooner or later. In any case, we are here to talk about the soundtrack. It’s what you expect from a Kirby game. Very memorable, upbeat, melodic and fun. Oh, and catchy as well.

Anyways, give it a listen and tell me what you think. I would love to hear it. Since this game might just be my favorite Kirby game ever made.

#9: Tomb Raider Underworld – Unnatural encounter

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My first ever game of Tomb Raider was Tomb Raider Legend. When I bought it as a 12 year old youngster, I didn’t realized what I bought. The kick of playing a 3D adventure game with such updated graphics blew my mind.

Since then I’m pretty hooked on the series. I bought the next PC game so I could play even more Tomb Raider fun.

Then Underworld released and I was bummed out, my old pc couldn’t handle the game. So, I had to play the game in a different way. My mother was so kind to me that she actually bought the game on my DS for me. While it isn’t a very good game, the emotional bond I have with it makes up for it.

Then I got my laptop, the very same one I’m writing this article on, and I got myself a copy of Underworld. When I found out that I was able to run and play it…. Well, I had a few sleepless game nights.

So, that’s why I’m so nostalgic about this game and it’s soundtrack. I really advice you guys to give it a listen. It’s pretty amazing.

#10: Monster Tale – Windmill Plains

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So, you are in the final area of an amazing Castlevania-inspired game. You have fought your way through enemies and a lot of though bosses. Now, you hear a song that starts very similar to the main theme.

But a few moments later, the bass kicks in. It gives you that extra urge to finally defeat that one character that has been making your life a living hell through the story. You finally want that character to bite the dust.

The music drives you through the final parts of the game, your skills are being tested. Everything you learned in the game will be put to use now. Meanwhile you can look back on the amazing experience you just had. Well, that’s how I felt when I played this game when this track played.

Finishing this article.

I already said it on Tumblr, but I have been extremely busy lately. That’s why I don’t publish so many articles this month. Thankfully things are looking up for me. Soon, I’ll be finishing more games and I’ll be able to write more articles.

Lately, I’m doubting if I shouldn’t aim for less articles but maybe have better content. I seriously don’t know. But this isn’t material for the end of this article, isn’t it?

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article and listening to the music. Maybe you discovered a new game or two. Who knows? I had a lot of fun writing this, you may be sure of that.

Feel free to suggest a game I should take a look at next! I love requests. But until then, I hope to welcome you a next time on my blog. Take care guys and girls.

Game Music Favorites #2: Bigger Sequel.

imagesAs I’m The Legend Of Zelda, Link Between Worlds and the Special Case of Ace Attorney – Dual Destenies along with Age Of Empires II HD on Steam and Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows on PSP, I don’t have a lot of games to review or make a first impression about. Surely I can write two about Age Of Empires and Zelda, but I need to play a bit more of them first. But before that, I liked my previous article enough to already make a new, possibly more lengthy, article. Let’s dive into a load of amazing music that I found during my adventures in game. Feel free to leave yours in the comment section down below. Or your opinions on my selections. I love hearing feedback. Anyways, orchestra is ready to go, so yeah.

#1: Alan Wake (DLC) –  Old Gods Of Asgard – Children of the Elder God

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Alan Wake is an amazing game. And various others told me that the soundtrack is amazing. And I totally agree. The music makes the game more tense.

At the end of each chapter, they have placed an amazing song. This is one of my  favorite tracks in game. The atmosphere is tense and I enjoyed it an awful lot. The other songs aren’t really my cup of tea. Honestly I don’t like game music where there is lyrics. Expect when it’s on important moments.

But the DLC has the best music! The fighting scenes are tense. And the music makes you sit at the edge of your seat. Totally wonderful.

I wish I could find time to finish the DLC’s. I started to write this article ten days ago and I finally finished this part of it. Yup, like I said in my previous article, I’m that busy.

Anyways, on the the next track!

#2: Corpse Party: Blood Covered OST  – Chapter 5’s Main Building Theme 2 (PSP Version)

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I have talked a lot about Corpse Party. I love the game to death. It’s near perfection in my eyes in the visual novel horror genre. I applaud the creators of the game like a mad man.

I’ll probably choose a lot of tracks in this series with my favorite game music in it, so stay tuned. I talked about the music in my review. And since I haven’t finished Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows, I think it would be silly to put a track on here of that game.

But the last chapter’s music is just amazing. I even had it as my ringtone for quite some time. It’s upbeat and it makes you want to finish the story. It motivates you to fight on and solve the final riddles that the game presents to you.

While it’s upbeat and very melodic, the creepyness of the game doesn’t go lost. The track makes you feel tense while ready to dive head on in the action. This track is proof how music in a horror game doesn’t always need to be scary.

#3: Rise & Fall: Civilizations At War – Main Theme

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Let’s fight aside famous hero’s of Rome, Greece or Egyptian wars. Much to my disliking, the in game music is extremely short. With each track being just a minute long, the music just loops too much.

Yet, it isn’t bad music. It’s tough to find it online though. Maybe Midway hunts down uploaders and stops them from uploading the music. Yet, the main theme is uploaded several times.

Truth to be told, I haven’t come near completing this game. I just like the mechanic of having a RTS game and where you can see the battles in 3D. And control the movement of your hero. But I was a bit too young when trying to take on the campaign.

This music is so lovely, the creators even made it that you can’t tell when you loop it where it ends and where it starts. I wish this style of music was in every adventure game. This track, I see it used in more then only this style of game.

#4: Lux Pain – Pumpkin Pon

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Pumpkin Pon, is such a bright and relaxing place in Lux-Pain. In this visual novel, some darkness has taken over a town. You can see the darkness and how it eats away at people.

While trying to hide your special powers, you go undercover. This game is long, dark, gloomy and sometimes hard. But when this track starts playing, it always puts a smile to my face. Upbeat and melodic. Fun and inviting. Just like the bar it’s named after.

The game is underrated, but it isn’t for everybody. When I ever have time to replay it, I’ll surely review it.

#5: Time Hollow – Opening

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Oh. My. Lords. This theme song. It’s the definition of amazing openings. If you can, go find a version of the intro and watch it. And then tell me, you aren’t curious to play this game.

While the Japanese version is totally different, I prefer the English version of this one. I sing along with it every time I hear it. And yes, it even puts a tear to my eye thinking how well written this game is and what impact it has on me.

This game is way to short and I wish Konami made a sequel on this one. Where the game is longer. Since there are so many unexplained things left. And Konami, if you are reading, please make the sequel just a bit longer? Okay? Please?

#6: Monster Tale – Pressure’s On.

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There is a lot of good music in this MetroidVania game. But this is one of my favorite tracks in-game. The music that plays with this boss battle is just so tense, that I was easily distracted by the music.

And when I finally could concentrate on the battle, the music helped me through the battle. I admit that I download music of games for tracks like this. Electronic rock. Sadly enough that this video cuts of the music midway. That, or YouTube must be glitching on me. Oh well.

This game is one I want to review. Yet, I has been some time since I played this game so I can’t give it a fair judgement. So, keep your eye out on a review of this pearl.

#7: The Last Remnant – Press to Victory

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Only recently I started playing The Last Remnant. I bought Broken Sword 5 – The Serpents Curse and I saw that this game was on sale. To make a nice round amount to pay at the check out, I bought it. I thought I earned some great games after doing some hard work in college.

And I heard some amazing music in this game. It blew me off my socks and I will surely play this game a lot more. It’s interesting and it got a story I can relate to. Well, relate as in, I saw it in different games as well and I wanted more of that style of story!

This music truly sets the right tone on the battlefield and I’m curious when it will be used again in the game. I have only played it for like a hour and I am attached to it. So, probably for Christmas I’m going to ask Santa to give me a bit more hours in a day since I want to play so many games besides studying and this is surely one of them.

I advice to get this game. It’s a cheap one and it’s made by Square Enix. Yeah, good stuff!

#8: Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney 5: Dual Desteny – Pursuit: Ambushed

The Japanese box-art because we only got an eShop release.
The Japanese box-art because we only got an eShop release.

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Objection! This music is totally awesome. It’s the best pursuit music I have heard in years. In all the series, this music is my favorite track in the game. It’s the moment you finally crack the case and place the suspect under high stress.

Ace Attorney looses a lot of it’s charm if you play it without the music. I mean, a big orchestra even played the music of this game. Think about it, people who care so much about a simple text based game on the Nintendo DS. It even started on the Gameboy Advance in Japan!

All the songs, and all the remixes of this series are worth listing to. Yet, this is my number one track in the whole series. Thanks for uploading the extended version!

Closure

So, I think I’ll leave this article here. I’m finishing up DLC of Ace Attorney 5 and Alan Wake. While I’m beating also games I have nearly completed. So, expect new articles in the future. While I try to fight through college as well.

I hope you enjoyed reading through this article and you enjoyed the music tracks I picked this time. I’m nearing the 100th article I publish on my personal blog. So, I’m truly excited. Anyways, back to Broken Sword 5. The update downloaded. 🙂