Monster Crown is an upcoming retro-styled game that perfectly captures the essence of the pocket monster genre including Digimon and Pokémon, while in development by Studio Aurum and publisher SOEDESCO. Here’s our first look at the upcoming indie game ahead of its release on July 31st, 2020.
For the past few nights, I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with a Pokémon-esque title, which somehow perfectly captures the essence of the pocket monster genre including titles such as Pokémon and Digimon.
Unlike the previously mentioned games, this one – Monster Crown – has a more young adult focus, weighing in the need for at least middle school reading and comprehension and an ability to understand just how monster types actually work. While this sounds dumb, it isn’t, it has a lot more need-to-know than Pokémon or Digimon actually do.
Much like Pokémon, you start off as a young adult, building your own character through the use of a name and choosing what color of clothes you prefer. Your character, unlike in Pokémon, doesn’t actually get to pick what Monster they start with, but rather, you are given a few multiple-choice questions, which eventually leads to you getting your first little creature to level up and make your way through the world with.
“a monster guarding a bridge (yep, Snorlax reference, but you can catch this one if you are lucky), and of course, your replacement for factions such as Team Rocket led by a bunch of gangsters.”
This time around, your father isn’t missing, but rather, is actually an important figure of your character’s life who just happens to begin guiding you through the world about you. You eventually find yourself trekking through the wilderness to the nearby kingdom, where you meet your rival, a woman who is hellbent on your destruction, a monster guarding a bridge (yep, Snorlax reference, but you can catch this one if you are lucky), and of course, your replacement for factions such as Team Rocket led by a bunch of gangsters.
Just as I mentioned, Monster Crown is retro as they get. It uses 2D game designs, an isometric view, and pixel graphics designs alongside chiptune style music. It’s also very reminiscent of the games that it’s inspired by. Much like those games, you’ll find that the barebones experience is something that both helps the game move forward, but hinders it at the exact same time.
You’ll find the graphics don’t leave out any chance to be an 8-bit inspired title, one that actually, for what it’s worth, delivers. The downside, you’ll find yourself sometimes hit by an invisible barrier that keeps you from progressing, not really hinting at what to do or how to go about doing what you need to versus only minor hints from the NPCs you encounter along the way.
“Each type, as you can expect, is also exposed to a variety of weaknesses, very similar to how grass-type Pokémon are vulnerable to fire and fighting to psychic.”
Just like the games of yesteryear, Monster Crown doesn’t draw back from that very experience either. You will find that you’ll only be utilizing your keyboard, using up, down, left, and right to move, escape to open menus, Z button as Okay, X as back, and C as an ability that you can change based by using Tab. Simple really, but for those of you wanting to use a controller, it can make things slightly tougher.
You’ll find that progression also leads you to breed your monster in order to create a new type of monster that can become a different type that is available; Malicious, Will, Brute, Relentless, and Unstable. Each type, as you can expect, is also exposed to a variety of weaknesses, very similar to how grass-type Pokémon are vulnerable to fire and fighting to psychic.
The game does actually explain in your notes how each type works and it is highly advised you give it a visit as you learn the ropes. Putting aside the basic similarities between the other genres, Monster Crown doesn’t actually change all that much and it does offer Pokémon fans something to enjoy as they await the release of The Crown Tundra this fall.
“One key difference, however, is how the overall presentation works, which gets rid of randomized encounters or Pokémon popping up in the grass, but rather, puts them on screen around you.”
Just like Pokémon, however, Monster Crown suffers from something similar to what Pokémon does as well: Redundancy. You will find yourself getting bored or frustrated as you run around, working on leveling up to an experience bar that doesn’t always make a lot of sense and would benefit greatly from a bar that counts down experience needed.
One key difference, however, is how the overall presentation works, which gets rid of randomized encounters or Pokémon popping up in the grass, but rather, puts them on screen around you. You can expect them to chase you down as sometimes, they’ll randomly do so, or you can just run into them yourself in order to initiate an encounter.
It’s cute really, and for me, the maturity of it actually was really rewarding, enjoyable, and actually has me more interested in playing as my little Monster trainer himself. The only downside, I wanted a story that was a bit more unique, a bit more fun and something that seemed to REALLY pop up as unique. Part of me, however, just can’t get over the fact I had to level from 4-7 to get past the starting area, which was a bummer, then repeating this again from 10 to 23.
My only complaint really? Something that changes it up, something that helps us understand what to do and a clearer idea of what the game is actually trying to convey while exploring the world around us. I would have loved to see something that changed the approach that Pokémon and Digimon have been doing for years.
Perhaps we’ll see something happen in the future, but until then, it’s still a promising game for fans who want to see an indie title getting a hefty amount of support ahead of its official launch.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!