8.0

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker review
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker; a new twist on the monster training formula

The good:

- Hundreds of creative and interesting monsters
- Innovative monster synthesizing system
- complex synthesis charts for the most powerful monsters
- synthesis makes boosting your monster's stats very easy
- The constant changing of monsters on your team keeps the combat fresh and exciting
- An interesting enough plot despite a very sad cast of characters
- Simple to learn, difficult to master combat
- endless customization of your monsters

The bad:

- No character customization paired with a ridiculous looking protagonist (even for a japanese game) ultimately takes away from the experience
- very lackluster characters
- Grinding required to overcome difficulty
- Synthesizing unnecessarily complicated with the necessity for monsters to have opposite charges
-Travel is annoyingly difficult

Summary:

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is a spinoff title in the Popular RPG series Dragon Quest. While it did not receive much attention or popularity, DQM:J is a very underrated game with countless replay value for anyone willing to work around the game's rough edges.

The game has you start off in a prison cell, put there as punishment by your father. He runs a criminal organization known as CELL, and allows you to participate in the MSO Monster Scout Challenge as long as you follow any orders that are delivered to you. You agree and set off to Domus Isle to begin your Journey.

The land of Greenbay, where the Monster Scout challenge takes place, is made up of several Isles, each having their own level of difficulty. Your journey will lead you throughout these Isles to collect ten pieces of darkonium, an element that the MSO requires you to collect in order to become Champion. Along the way, you meet the Incarnus, a legendary beast sent back to earth to avert catastrophe. He will follow you, helping you with your goal as you help him accomplish his own. There aren't many important characters in the story, the only ones being you, the Incarnus, your father, and two others known as Dr. Snap and Solitaire(you will notice this game has alot of symbolism surrounding the four suits of cards). I won't spoil the ending, although If i'm honest, there's not much to spoil. The plot is only passable, due mostly to the horribly developed characters. But the plot isn't what makes DQM so addicting.

DQM uses a synthesis system, in which you combine two creatures to create a new and (usually) better one. This aspect is the main reason Joker is so addicting; getting a new monster this often keeps combat fresh and exciting throughout your experience. With the complex synthesis charts, you'll be constantly training your monsters up to level ten so you can get something even better! Even though this game requires an ungodly amount of grinding, the time just flies right by; the fast leveling helps it as well, giving you a sense of accomplishment every time you hear the level-up jingle. in a more popular series like Pokemon, grinding is a huge hassle. You usually can't rebattle trainers (your main source of experience) and training against wild pokemon is a pain. Here, wild monsters are your main source of experience, and you can rebattle them as often as you like (save for a few boss and miniboss monsters that aren't designed for experience anyway). In pokemon, you rarely get new team members. You have six total slots, and the only changing that pokemon do is evolving. In DQM, you will have a brand new monster on your team every thirty minutes or even more.

One very nice aspect about monsters in this game are the skillsets. You would think that each monster would just have predetermined skillsets, and would learn certain spells/attacks as they leveled up. But here, it is theoretically possible to give any one monster any skill in the game! Yes, you can have a lowly slime with the spells of an almighty Rhapthorne! And with hundreds of unique skillsets, combined with an equally diverse set of monsters, customizing and strategizing your very own team has endless possibilities!

There are a few minor kinks, however. For example, travelling from isle to isle takes a very long time which could be solved with a better teleport spell. The "zoom" spell only allows you to go to the scoutpost you visited most recently, rather than any scoutpost you want to. This doesn't add anything to the game, it's just frustrating. Another thing is an annoyance with synthesising. Every monster is randomly assigned one of three charges: positive, negative, or neutral. If you want to synthesize two monsters, they must be of opposite charges. With neutral monsters being very rare, all this aspect does is limit your possibilities. I can't tell you the amount of times I could have gotten a great monster on my team if only they weren't both positive, or both negative, etc.

Aside from a few minor problems, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is an excellent game that I can recommend to any fan of RPGs, especially Pokemon and Dragon Quest. You will sink an immense amount of time into this game before you even know it. So go out and buy it already, you won't regret it!

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