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Dragon Warrior Monsters for the GBC

A Retro Review

By Aaron DennisPublished 7 years ago 6 min read

In this special retro review, I’m reviewing Dragon Warrior Monsters. This Gameboy Color game was originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry no Wonderland, and is the first video game in the Dragon Quest Monsters series. It was released in Japan by Enix on September 25, 1998, 2 years after Pokémon, and for some inexplicable reason, Dragon Warrior Monsters, and the whole Dragon Quest saga, just doesn’t seem to do as well in North America as some other games… games I consider to be lesser games, but anyway, this game was remade for the PlayStation as Dragon Quest Monsters 1+2 Hoshi Furi no Yūsha to Bokujō no Nakamatachi, but I’m just going to review the GBC version.

I’m not sure I can even pronounce the PS version….

Speaking of Gameboy; do you remember the Super Gameboy? That SNES type cartridge you stuck into the console that made playing GB games on your T.V. possible? I never understood why Nintendo didn’t make some kind of contraption to allow us the possibility of attaching our GB Advances to a GameCube or Wii. I mean, we were able to utilize a cable in order to extract data, but we weren’t capable of playing the Advance games on a GameCube?

I can’t get over that, but back to the review….

Dragon Warrior Monsters is often compared to the Pokémon series, and I certainly understand why; you catch monsters, make them fight other monsters, enter tournaments, gain levels, find items, fight other trainers, etc., etc. However, it seems to me that DW Monsters is leaps and bounds ahead of Pokémon; you’ll see what I mean.

You start off as some brat running around the bedroom with your sister. Then, you go to bed, but you can’t sleep.

You go check the next room, and this asshole comes out—his name is Warobou—and he decides to steal your sister.

You just sit there like a lummox until this other asshole pops out, and he takes you to where you can look for your sister. His name is Watabou—Watanasshole!

Anyway, you pop out in the middle of a tree, and an old dude takes you to see the king so that you can compete in the starry night tournament; yeah, never mind your sister; everything is just a game to the blokes running the show….

On the plus side, the king says that you’re free to go and look for your sister, but that you need to get some monsters, beat them into submission, and then pit them against other monster fighters in order to be able to compete in the starry night tournament.

Okay, he says it in a much nicer way, but that’s what it boils down to. Fortunately, the winner of the tournament is allowed a wish, so you’re free to wish for your sister’s return. Yay!

Not the most cerebral story line, but fun and imaginative. The story, however, has little to do with the game’s epic level of fun.

As a note of comparison, this is very much like Pokémon except that in that game, you, whoever you are, are in the world already, aren’t forcing monsters to kill one another for the sake of recovering your sister, and often just dump your current pet for a new and better one just to kill other people’s pets….

Back to DW Monsters: you’re given a monster, and then the king has you track his old monster, so you’re given access to a monster gate. You go into the gate, and now you’re playing a basic RPG.

Oh, sorry… JRPG. You meander through the stage, fight other monsters, and sometimes, they offer to join you; you can increase the odds of a monster getting up and following you by giving them treats during the battle.

Finally, you get the king’s old pet, and the king tells you to start competing in the tournaments. These are like prelim fights before you can access the starry night tournament. Evidently, the whole town is in this big tree, and you talk to people, breed monsters with other trainers, yeah, breed monsters, and I’ll provide more on that later, and you can buy and sell stuff.

Obviously, the main goal is to raise monsters strong enough to compete in and win the starry night tournament; you don’t want anyone else to win or you can’t wish for your sister, and the king wants you to win, so that he can claim his tree is the best in the world, but it doesn’t end there. After you win, you’re welcomed back to do as you please, and that’s where the fun really starts.

The game itself is fairly easy and straightforward, but after you win, you get access to new gates, and new monsters, and new breeds.

Breeding is probably this game’s best quality; that or the music, but breeding is what drove me to put in about 200 hours in this game; that’s more hours than I have in some of my Skyrim characters.

Each monster comes in two genders. Yeah…there are only two genders. Deal with it. I don’t know about the monsters’ identities, but they have only the two genders. A male cannot breed with a male, only a female, and vice versa. The monster’s level, which equates to better stats and better spells or skills, when combined with the other monster’s levels, stats, and skills, can create a new monster of the same kind, but with higher base stats and the ability to gain even more levels, or it can sometimes create a totally different monster. Moreover, you can breed monsters of different types; you can breed a slime with a plant and get a new kind of slime, if the pedigree was the slime, or you can get a new kind of plant, if the pedigree was a plant, and the possibilities, while far from endless, are quite vast.

The idea behind all this is that you can connect Gameboys and battle your buddies, but even if you don’t do that, there’s just a ton of fun gameplay.

The Good

Um…everything? I love the music. Most of it is original, but when you’re clowning around inside the monster gates, and you get to the last few levels, you get to hear some of the music from the other games in the series, mostly Dragon Warrior 1-4, I think.

The monsters that you catch and train are also from the previous games, and technically, your character and his sister are the characters from Dragon Warrior 6 but before that grand adventure.

Considering that this is a Gameboy Color game, I’m impressed not only with the quality artwork, but the fact that each monster has its own sprite rather than just an adjusted color pattern, the exception being a few monsters like the slime and the metaly, or the babble and the metabble, or the king slime and the metal king. There are over 200 monster, though!

The Bad

I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like about Dragon Warrior Monsters. This is a very well made game.

I’m baffled by how well Pokémon does by comparison when it’s so limited. I know that as time went on, the Pokémon series made some adjustments; they have movies, shows, and all kinds of stuff, and maybe the Dragon Quest people just weren’t capable of thinking outside the box.

Ironically, the artist for the Dragon Quest games is the same guy that does the artwork for Dragon Ball, so maybe that’s why the two are kept separate; that’s why there’s no Dragon Quest show or movie, which is a shame, mostly because I don’t like Pokémon; Pikachu just beats everything…. It’s so freakin’ cheap.

Regardless of whether or not you like Pokémon, you’re probably going to dig Dragon Warrior Monsters. It’s great retro fun, especially if you have a SNES and a Super Gameboy. This is totes an A+ game!

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About the Creator

Aaron Dennis

Creator of the Lokians SciFi series, The Adventures of Larson and Garrett, The Dragon of Time series, and more.

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