Video Game Reviews: Monster Rancher 4


Raeden Norris, Staffer

Monster Rancher 4 is a Playstation 2 monster training and battling game released by TECMO in 2003 and is the fourth console game in the Monster Rancher series. Nowadays, nobody knows what it is. 

Despite being unknown, the game has received a Metacritic score of 77/100, and a user score of 8.9/10. IGN has also listed it as the 88th best Playstation 2 game on its top 100 list. Out of the 21 professional reviews listed on Metacritic, only one is negative, and there are no negative user reviews. 

The game focuses on a schedule based training regimen for up to 5 monsters at a time. Each monster has a different schedule, and each schedule is entirely customizable. There are 328 different monsters you can collect, and there are 34 different breeds of monsters. 

Each breed has sub-breeds that are combinations with other monsters, or in a rare case, unknown combinations, which only have a primary breed, and have “???” filling in for the sub-breed. 

Monsters can be obtained through any old disc you have lying around: the game can read CDs, DVDs, and other game discs to make a monster. The process is simple. 

When making new monsters, the game disc can be removed from the system, and another disc can be put in. The system will read the disc, and when the game disc is put back in, it will give you your new monster. 

Certain discs will give you the special “???” sub-breeds, which are often based on something in that disc. For example, the Dead or Alive 2 game disc will give you Kasumi, a “Pixie/???,” which is basically a fairy dressed as one of the characters from DOA2. These monsters often have better stats than the usual monsters, whether they live longer or pack a meaner punch than most. 

Whether you get “???’ monsters or not, each breed has a different fighting style and finding one that fits you best is easy. The basic battle mechanics work on guts, a rotating list of moves, and three different ranges. 

Each move costs guts, which are basically points that let you use attacks. Each attack has a different guts cost, and your guts refill throughout the match. You have three panels with three moves on each, which allows for three close-range, three mid-range, and three long-range attacks. 

Effects can also take place during battles. Certain aspects of the battle or the set personality of your monster can cause an in-battle effect. Most commonly in younger monsters is the Timidity effect, which will make the monster ignore player orders, backing away from the opponent and refusing to attack. This is caused by having a weak bond with your monster but will stop being so prominent as they get older. Other effects like the Composed effect make your monster’s accuracy go up, allowing the monster to hit more often.

Different monsters have better moves in different ranges and different move types. As long as you figure out how each monster works, and train them accordingly, you’ll be able to dominate the leagues with ease. 

There are also adventure locations, which allow your monsters to unlock new moves, and level up their skills. You get to fight random encounter wild monsters, which will pop out at you as you walk through the area, and must be defeated before carrying on your expedition. Each area also has a boss or two that affect the story aspect of the game.

Even though the game’s primary focus is to beat all of the official rank battles in the monster battling tournaments; however, there is a story as well. Your ranch assistant, Rio, can talk to monsters and has the same vision each time she touches a stone found in each adventure location. 

The story is told as the player goes on to reveal who Rio is, as well as how the final boss, Xevion, came to be. Xevion was a monster fusion experiment gone wrong, who went on to be sealed in a volcano by the Phoenix lord, Suzaku, but now, hundreds of years later, he has a way to get out. The story may seem a bit cheesy but can be enjoyable if you can overlook the occasional funny translation error or lousy line. 

The game may seem like just another attempt at a Pokemon copy when you first look at it, but Monster Rancher 4 could be described as more mature than Pokemon, as it takes actual skill to beat. Pokemon is a series that can be defeated by your five-year-old cousin, but Monster Rancher 4 needs thought out strategy.

 Training regimens must be thought out, and monsters’ needs must be taken care of regularly. Monsters have different likes, dislikes, and fighting styles. 

The game has something for everyone, whether they like story-based games or monster battles. If you have a way of playing it, check it out, it could be right up your alley.