Monster Rancher was one of several monster-raising video game series released in the late nineties alongside Pokemon and Digimon. The key aspect that made Monster Rancher stand out is that the PlayStation games would use discs, including CDs, DVDs, and even other games, to unlock monsters.
While many may be aware of the franchise, they may not realize how extensive its history is. Through five mainline games for PlayStation systems, a few others for multiple platforms, and even some titles that delve into different genres, the history of Monster Rancher is just as notable as those of its contemporaries. Here are some interesting facts about the series.
8 Monster Rancher Had A Card Game
Like its contemporaries in the late '90s, Monster Rancher also had a card game spin-off, although this one was digital. Monster Rancher Battle Card was released for the Game Boy Color in Japan on December 24, 1999, and in North America on April 1, 2000. It is based on the battle gameplay of the mainline Monster Rancher games, with offensive and defensive cards requiring different amounts of guts.
The sequel, Monster Rancher Battle Card Episode II, was released a few months later for the original PlayStation, on March 22, 2000, in Japan and July 31, 2000, in North America, respectively. It had similar gameplay to its predecessor and used the same disc reading function the mainline games did to unlock specific cards.
7 There Was A Monster Rancher Puzzle Game
Released for the Game Boy Color on October 30, 2000, in North America, Monster Rancher Explorer was the only Monster Rancher puzzle game ever to be released and was a reskin of a game called Solomon, which is part of Tecmo's Solomon's Key series.
Monster Rancher Explorer has players take on the role of an explorer named Cox, who must solve puzzles in each level to obtain the key to unlock the next level. While most monsters in the game are enemies who must be dealt with, a few can help you get past certain obstacles. Maybe if there's ever another Monster Rancher puzzle game in the future, it will hopefully be something more original.
6 Monster Rancher Even Has A Weird Racing And Board Game Hybrid
Instead of having just a racing or party game, Monster Rancher decided to combine the two with Monster Rancher Hop-A-Bout. This features various characters from the Monster Rancher series racing across a board while avoiding obstacles and activating panels along the way. Different panels have different effects and can be beneficial or detrimental.
Hop-A-Bout was also notable for having a creative mode where players could create their own levels, something seen often in modern racing games but not as much in party games. The game received a digital re-release on the PlayStation Network on March 24, 2009, but only in Hong Kong.
5 The Games And Anime Have Slightly Differing Lore
Some of the games and the anime series share plenty of monsters and a few characters in common but their lore differs slightly – although both take place in a post-apocalyptic world. Both sources mention an ancient war caused by a technologically advanced civilization wiped out long ago.
This helps explain why the robot monsters known as Hengers and their various subspecies exist and why scattered Hengerbot parts are often found throughout the ruins of each region. The scientists in the Monster Rancher world also have little idea of how Hengers work but do know that they were made from the souls of other monsters who do not retain their memories.
4 Monster Rancher 3 Has A Unique Art Style
The third entry in the series, which was released for the PlayStation 2 on March 22, 2001, in Japan and September 24, 2001, in North America, had a completely different art style to its predecessors, opting for a cel-shaded look to make it have a more anime-like aesthetic.
While some previously introduced monsters were missing, a few others had their designs changed, with said changes ranging from minimal to drastic. For Monster Rancher 4 and Monster Rancher Evo, the original art style returned but was vastly improved compared to its predecessors due to the graphical fidelity of the PlayStation 2, and the Monster Rancher 3 art style was never revisited.
3 There Was Briefly A Monster Rancher MMO
On December 21, 2007, Monster Farm Online was released in Japan. In this MMO, players would still raise their monster as they would in previous entries, but it lacked many of the previously introduced aspects. Monster Farm Online also focused more on character interactions as well as quests that players could go on to increase their rank instead of battling.
On January 7, 2010, an enhanced version of Monster Farm Online called Monster Farm Lagoon was released, which included new monsters and other new content, but it was shut down only six months later. Any additional official information on Lagoon is sparse (at least in English), but a few videos with gameplay footage can be found on YouTube.
2 There Was A Japan-Exclusive Nintendo DS Game
The first Monster Rancher game for the Nintendo DS was Kaite Shabette Hajimeyou!: Monster Farm DS, which was released in Japan in 2007. The sequel, released in Japan on August 7, 2008, and originally titled Monster Farm DS 2: Yomigaeru! Master Breeder Densetsu was released as Monster Rancher DS in North America on August 3, 2010. This meant the two titles were similar but not the same.
This was not the first time something like this happened for the series, as Monster Rancher 2 was released as Monster Rancher in Europe since the first game had never received an official European release until Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX.
1 There Was Also A Terrible Mobile Game
The last time a brand-new Monster Rancher game was released internationally was 2011, with the mobile title My Monster Rancher for Android and iOS. Other than lacking many of the features of previous entries, My Monster Rancher was also notable for the various bugs it had, many of which were never fixed. These included missing monster textures that would cause monsters to end up looking similar to the missing no glitch from the original Pokemon games.
My Monster Rancher also happened to have a shoddy translation at best, so it seems that not much care was put into the international release altogether.
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