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Nintendo DS Review: Monster Tale

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Monster Tale is the latest game offering from Majesco Entertainment and was released on March 15th. It’s an adventure pet sim game developed by DreamRift. The game opens with a little girl named Ellie in bed one night. She wakes up thinking that she hears something in the woods and goes off in search of what it might be. She finds a glowing bracelet and after slipping it on she is transported into the game.

The play is similar to a platformer, using the direction pad to move and the B button to jump. As you wander through the game, you come across things that can help you like food and coins or things that can hurt you like spikes in the ground or monsters that try to kill you. You claim the helpful items by running into them and shoot at monsters by using the A button.

Gameplay is played almost entirely in the top screen. There are one or two monsters that cross screens but most are entirely on the top. As you come across something new or learn a new skill, you see a dialog box on the bottom screen where the computer types messages to Ellie. You press A to continue to the next dialog box or if there’s nothing else coming, it takes you back to the game.

As Ellie begins the game, she comes across an egg that hatches and contains a baby monster called Chomp. Chomp follows Ellie along on her adventures and will attack monsters or interact with special items (like locks) automatically. You don’t need to tell Chomp to do anything except to go rest when he needs to heal. Chomp has a bar that tells you how his health is based on hunger, how tired he is, or what he has fought. You send him to the Pet Sanctuary on the bottom of the screen by pressing the X button when you don’t need him or when he needs to rest/heal. As Ellie wanders through the game, she also finds things for Chomp like food, toys, and equipment. As she runs into them, they go to the Pet Sanctuary on the bottom of the screen for Chomp to use.

As you kill monsters, they leave behind coins and as you accumulate coins, you can use them to buy things for Chomp. When you want Chomp to use the things you’ve collected or purchased for him, you send him to the bottom screen using the X button. He then uses them automatically and accumulates whatever experience points or skills are associated with each item. With enough experience points, he gains levels and can learn new skills like Torpedo. He uses skills on the top screen to help Ellie overcome challenges. Skills require a certain amount of the pet meter (health) to be performed.  You can check his level by pressing the select button. You press the L or R button to use a skill and can assign different skills to the buttons as you progress. Chomp evolves into new forms based on his activities. He changes into a new form (like a shield) using the EVO (evolve) subscreen.

Periodically Ellie enters a library full of books and by pressing the up arrow button, she is healed and the game is saved. If you die before you get to a library, you will begin that level again at the previous one. There is a map screen available that you can see by pressing the start button. It shows you your location and the goal of each level so you can find it easier. As Ellie progresses through the game, she comes across stone monuments and as she runs through them, she learns new abilities like melee strike. You use the Y button to use these new abilities. You can see Ellie’s list of abilities on her subscreen.

Most of the game is played with the buttons however if you want to go to the subscreen for Chomp or Ellie and change the skills they’re using, you will use the stylus to do that. It’s very easy to maneuver through the game and the directions on the bottom of the screen allow you to test each new ability as you learn it. The graphics remind me of a Pokemon-type game with the cute anime type characters. The music is upbeat without being annoying and the game play moves along at a nice pace without being too easy. Definitely a fun game that’s relatively easy for younger kids provided they can read the dialog and it still managed to keep my 13yo son occupied for several hours.

Monster Tale is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for mild cartoon violence.

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About Ellen Christian

Ellen is a busy mom of two teenagers who left the corporate world in 2008 to focus on a more eco-friendly life. She lives in rural Vermont where she juggles family, two blogs and a career in social media. You can find her at http://www.confessionsofanover-workedmom.com/ and http://the-socialites-closet.blogspot.com/.