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Nintendo DS Game Review

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker


Format: Nintendo DS
Square Enix
5 060121 822382
Age Restrictions: 7+
Available 14 March 2008

Welcome to Green Bays, a cluster of mysterious islands that sparkle like jewels in the shimmering ocean! But travellers beware! The islands are not as peaceful as they seem, for they teem with a multitude of monsters both great and small. Green Bays is also home to the famous monster scout challenge. This renowned contest, held once every few years, determines who will be crowned the world's greatest scout. It is time for you to begin your quest to become the greatest monster scout in Green Bays and in history...

Have you got what it takes to fight your way to the top with a team of the meanest monsters? Find out in this monster-hunting challenge that includes over 200 marauding monsters to collect and battle. Train your team to be the best by mastering countless spells and abilities, and crush all who stand in your way. You can also synthesise new monsters that can develop rare new abilities.

I have to admit that I've never been a huge fan of this style of monster collecting and battling game. Pokemon, which is in the same vein, never really appealed to me - it always seemed a little too childish. However, Joker really got to me and I found it incredibly difficult to put down.

The idea is pretty simple, and anyone familiar with this genre will already know what to expect. You start the game as a novice in the world of monster tournaments. You must travel to the HQ of the monster scout challenge to discover how to progress through each level if you are to become the grand champion.

The first section of the game sees you travelling between a handful of islands, all of which have different levels of monsters to battle. You start with one monster which you must train up to allow you to win against bigger and meaner monsters. During the fighting you have the option to try impress and impress any monster you are battling against so that they will join your team. Your team can be made up of a maximum of three monsters, with another three in reserve, and as many as you can capture in storage (which you can access at various places on each island).

Every time you win a battle with the monsters dotted around the islands, you are given points as well as some money (the harder the monsters the more points and money you earn) the points allow you to level up your monsters, making them stronger and allowing them to access certain skills that will come in useful in future battles. The money can be used to buy weapons, and various potions to help you in your battles. Really, all you are doing is getting into training for the big tournament.

Any monster that has reached level 10 or above can be crossed with another monster to create a hybrid where you decide which of its parent's skills to pass on. This way you can combine the skills of two average monsters to create a much superior beast.

It was great to see that there were very few monsters that were out-and-out elite fighters. Even the simplest of monsters can be powered up over time to bring their A-game against much more menacing opponents. And when battling you have the option to either give a direct fighting command to each of your monsters, give them aspects to concentrate on but let them decide how to fight, or you can just hit the fight option and let them decide how best to win the battle.

Joker is the first game in the series to have online play, via Nintendo Wi-Fi. Here, you can set the game to start a real battle against another online player who will also be wandering around the world.

There's plenty here to keep you playing for ages - there's new monsters to find or create; as well as the challenge of winning some of the more fearsome monsters over to your team. You can even attempt to win over monsters from other players - online or in the main game.

Whether you are a fan of this type of game or not, Joker is well worth checking out - you may just find yourself hooked.


Darren Rea

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