Dragon Warrior Monsters

   After Azure Dreams, Chocobo's Dungeon, and Evolution, one would think that the "randomly generated dungeon" theme had been done to death -- how many times can you find new ways to tramp through a multi-floor maze, collecting loot and fighting monsters? Enix's Dragon Warrior Monsters proves the formula is good for at least one new game; it may not bring anything new to the genre, but its refreshing no-frills approach breathes new life into the aging mechanics.

   A prequel of sorts to Dragon Quest VI, DWM starts younger versions of DQ VI adventurers Terry and Milayou. When Milayou is kidnapped by the demon Warubou, Terry ventures into the kingdom of GreatTree -- hidden away inside his dresser drawer -- to save her.

The first quest completed

   Terry, however, does no fighting of his own. Instead, starting with a lowly Slime, he recruits defeated monsters to his team. Most of the monsters are pulled straight from the classic Dragon Quest / Warrior series, an added treat for fans. Recruiting monsters is generally a breeze; feed a monster meat during a battle, then ask it to join after being defeating it. Some monsters, however, can only be discovered by breeding two existing recruits together. While such an act costs you the two original monsters (they're "released into the wild"), it nets you their offspring, who will possess the powers of both parents.

   Despite this bit of complexity, Dragon Warrior Monsters generally moves to streamline the dungeon-crawling process. Instead of one huge labyrinth, the game consists of numerous smaller quests that make for much more manageable playing sessions. Each dungeon consists mostly of collecting food for your monsters (hungry monsters won't obey your commands), finding the exit on each floor, and then vanquishing the boss at the end. (An auto-map feature makes it easy to keep track of where you've been.) Though this basic pattern is repetitious, the battles keep the game entertaining. Expect some of the fights to actually present a challenge; you'll have to make good use of all your monsters' abilities to prevail.

Note to RPG developers: Please stop the fighting tournaments

   When dungeon-crawling gets old, GreatTree also offers a number of other amneties. Shops furnish items (there are no weapons or armor), townspeople provide advice, a library catalogs all the monsters you've discovered, and a coliseum offers another place to put your monsters to the test. Battling in the arena is actually necessary to advance in the game; each new set of dungeons will not appear until you improve your tournament rank. New sections of the town become accessible as the game progresses, giving you additional motivation for continuing.

   Dragon Warrior Monsters may not offer the stat-crunching intensity of Lufia 2's Ancient Dungeon, but it's also infinitely more entertaining than such exercises in tedium. The colorful graphics, staggered appearance of new buildings and monsters, and reasonable dungeon sizes keep the game entertaining at all times -- and with over 200 monsters to collect, several bonus dungeons to explore, and a link cable battle mode, it'll occupy you for some time. It's far from an RPG revolution, but it's simple, clean fun.

Review by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Dragon Warrior Monsters: Terry's Wonderland
Developer Enix
Publisher Eidos
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium Catridge (16 meg)
Platform Game Boy Color
Release Date  09.25.98
Eidos, Enix sign publishing deal
5 English screen shots
5 monster designs
North American box art