There are few things that can embarrass a slob like me, and admitting I religiously watched the Pokemon cartoons all the way to the Joto Journeys isn’t one of them. The idea of training strange little monsters and watching them mature in power and skill touches a childish chunk of my beer-drenched heart. So Monster Rancher Evo for the PS2, a game that’s title is basically a Pokemon plot summary, should have been a laugh-filled, monster-packed jaunt down memory lane. Instead of stimulating my nostalgia sensors, all this game did was leave me confused, angry and oddly enough, aroused.
As I mentioned, I’m a hard guy to embarrass but not being able to grasp a game designed for 10 year olds is a bit of a stab to the old ego. It turns out Monster Rancher Evo is a complicated RPG-ish event that involves a great deal of time, effort and patience. Considering this is the fifth installment of Tecmo’s wildly popular series, I’m guessing most kids these days possess more of these things than me. But I have to ask, what kind of kid’s game features scantily clad female characters bouncing around gleefully in regular intervals?
Jiggling aside, the game revolves around Julio, a young circus monster trainer suffering from feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt (just like you and me!). It seems working in a circus is about as much fun as being a government employee nowadays. You’ve gotta deal with monster stress-levels, fatigue and embarrassment, all the while scheduling meetings to discuss policy and procedure with the weirdo clown that runs the show (like Dubya, only smarter). There’s just too much to deal with and not enough explanation for a Monster Rancher novice like me. The tutorial is brief and just as confusingly vague as the games instruction manual. I ended up crying in my Pikachu pillowcase wishing I’d never heard of these monsters... or their ranch.