Follow Genre: Sim, Arcade, Strategy
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX – Review

Site Score
Good: Fun retro experience, Double speed
Bad: Somewhat wonky controls at times
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

It’s hard to imagine a time period where monster battling wasn’t immediately linked to the world-famous Pokémon franchise. Nintendo’s loveable pocket monsters have taken the world by storm ever since their release, and it seems the Pokémon craze has reached a new height with the franchise’s 25th anniversary. Nonetheless, there once was a period where these critters were still competing with others, such as Digimon, but also with the Monster Rancher games. These games started off on the first PlayStation and involved monster battling, albeit with less adventuring and more simulation aspects. For our entertainment, the first two entries of the series have now been slightly remastered for the Switch and PC.



The Monster Rancher games’ stories are quite simple. It seems that our world is also inhabited by monsters, but as they were causing too many problems at a certain point, these strange critters were encapsulated in ancient discs. These discs now can be used to summon the monster that corresponds with it, allowing the owner to use them for jobs, battles, or perhaps even as pets.


Graphically these games will not impress anyone. The games have a combo of old-school pixel-art for certain events and the dialogues, while battles are mostly shown with very low-poly 3D models. The original PlayStation 1 roots are clearly visible, which can be great for fans of the originals, but we doubt this style will appeal to many younger gamers. It feels like nostalgia will be one of the selling points for these releases. That being said, the games still look fairly nice and colorful, which is a definite plus. The diversity of the monsters was already quite impressive for old-school 3D games such as these, but we would have loved a full remaster for these two games. We do find that these games are best played in handheld mode, as the graphics look a lot better on the Switch’s small screen compared to when playing the game on TV.


The sound design is still fairly good. The games once again ooze nostalgia, and the soundtrack, as well as the sound effects, are still very joyful and appealing after more than two decades. We loved what was on offer here, and we were never annoyed, even after doing the same actions over and over again.


Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX are two classic monster battling games that involve a few sim and strategy elements. This game will have you take care of monsters, with which you’ll have to battle and make a name for yourself. Unlike Pokémon, these games tend to be a bit more adult, even if they may look a bit silly at times. In these games, your monsters can (and will eventually) die, and you even have the option to scold your monsters if they do not perform well in their battles. This may be a bit controversial by today’s standards, but it also adds a bit to the strategic element of the game, as sometimes your monsters may get lazy if you praise them too much, but being a villainous owner will also not win you any prizes. To get a monster in these games, you can either get one at the in-game market or summon one from the shrine. In the original games, you could summon monsters by using music CDs, which isn’t possible for these remasters. The games come with a preprogrammed library of artists/songs you can summon monsters from. We were quite surprised to even see groups such as Slipknot and DMX in the summoning list.

As a whole, you’ll be going through a lot of monotonous tasks in these games, where you send your monster(s) to train, perform jobs, and eventually battle other monsters. We have to say that the difficulty level of these games is quite high, making it hard to earn money at the start of these games or even win fights for that matter. Different tactics do tend to work here. Some players may just want to invest most of their time into training, and skip a few battles, while skilled players may immediately dive into the official battles. The game already has a few exploits online, due to the developers having to replace the CD gimmick. Due to this, some more powerful exclusive monsters can already be claimed with the correct search input at the summoning shrine.

These games have been updated with the function to speed up time, and this is well-appreciated. As these games have you perform the same tasks over and over again, it may get tedious to play them at the normal speed. When choosing to speed up the game, this also means battles will be fought at double speed as well. This makes it somewhat hard to properly time your attacks. Perhaps it would have been better to have two options; one to speed up the events and the dialogues, and one separately for the battles. We did notice some gameplay elements felt a bit dated, and the controls during battles are horrendous.


Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX is a fun collection that truly shines in handheld mode. These two games still have a lot of charm on the small screen of a Switch, but lose a bit of their flair when played on the big screen. The biggest and most important feature for this rerelease might be the inclusion to speed things up while playing, as the pacing of the original games was very slow. Nonetheless, we do think this collection will mainly be popular with an older audience, as these remasters may not be polished enough for younger gamers. Even so, we enjoyed our time with this trip down memory lane, and we do hope that a proper remake (or sequel) is in the works for the near future.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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