With Pokemon being such a juggernaut and Digimon coming in as a distant second, there hasn’t been a lot of room in the video game market for other monster-raising adventures. That hasn’t stopped Koei Tecmo from continuing its own franchise with Monster Rancher — or Monster Farm, depending on what country you live in.
Although the series consists of fourteen simulation role-playing titles that appear on every console from PlayStation 1 to Nintendo DS, interest in Monster Rancher fell at the wayside somewhere around 2010; shortly after the last entry in the saga was released in North America.
Despite a short-lived, 73 episode anime that aired in Japan and America between 1998 and 2001, people tend to forget that Monster Rancher even exists. It could be due to the lack of continuity between dubs of the anime, or lack of clever and attention-seeking graphics in the video games; but whether you’re watching Jack Haylee or Genki Sakura, or playing as your favorite avatar, incredibly cute creatures await you no matter where you go. It’s true that I’ve only played Monster Rancher Battle Card Game and Monster Rancher EVO, and still I’m unable to forget Mocci, Captain Horn and Suezo.
Monster Rancher is perhaps the first game of its kind to introduce breeding and a single buddy system, yes, even before Pokemon and Digimon. It even introduced the friendship feature a decade earlier, which allows players to help their monsters’ moral and yield critical hits from it. It’s a simple game to pick up, even if you never heard of the franchise until today. Monster Rancher is repetitive, to say the least, and yet it’s like looking at a fossil of something that could’ve been much, much more than it is. And, yes, that is a pun since the monsters are housed in rocks or discs, depending on which game you play.
I’m sure local used video game stores, Amazon and eBay have a couple of Monster Rancher titles on sale. If you’re an old-school gaymer, then you should consider purchasing one and discovering a universe you previously missed.
Rumor has it a remastered edition of the very first game is due in Japan later this year.