SRPG 94 – Masumon KIDS (PS1)

Masumon KIDS (マスモンKIDS), released 6/25/1998, developed by System Soft, released by Toshiba EMI

Master of Monsters is a game that initially came out for Japanese computers in 1988 and was ported to a bunch of different systems — the Genesis and Playstation versions came out in English and so are known to some Western gamers. I’ve never played it, but it seems to be a strategy game based on summoning monsters.

This was apparently supposed to be an easier version of the game that was more appropriate for younger gamers who wouldn’t be able to get into the complicated original game. It barely squeaks by as a strategy RPG under my definition but in the end I didn’t play much of it.

The story, as far as I got, involves tracking down four Holy Knights to join your team in opposing the forces of evil. I didn’t get this far, but the instruction booklet mentions that part of the game takes place in the present day, and you see reincarnations of the characters there. That seems like an interesting concept but I’m not sure how well it’s implemented.

The battle system is based on the MoM roots. You have your main summoner character plus any of the Holy Knights you found so far. There are a couple of summon circles on the map, and if your summoner is standing on them you can summon people for your team. One unfortunate decision (that I saw a lot of Japanese reviews complain about) is that each stage has a fixed set of 3 monsters you can summon. It’s different for each stage, and while the monsters can gain levels, no monsters stick around after the battle, so they’re essentially just meaningless grunts. Only your summoner and the Knights preserve their levels. This is what makes it feel to me more like a strategy game than a strategy RPG.

Each stage seems to work the same way. There is an enemy summoner (or two) that starts on a summoning circle, and will use each round to summon monsters to fill any of the 4 empty spaces around them, and then all the monsters will come attack you. Eventually the enemy summoner will run out of monsters to summon.

All of the summons are pretty weak, but your non-summon monsters are not really strong enough to clear the stages on their own (I was able to sort of do it for the first few maps, but not really). I think the intent is that you keep your summoner on the starting circle and summon lots of monsters until the enemy runs out, and then go in and finish him off.

This takes a long time, though, and I think if you played the whole game this way (especially if you didn’t use emulator speedup) you would be looking at quite a long game. Although there is a youtube playthrough of it that seems to be around 20 hours so maybe it’s not as long as I think.

Summoning the monsters requires gems, which you can buy at a shop between levels or recover from battle by stepping on a square where a summoned monster died (you or the opponent). You can also buy spells as well, which is the only thing you can equip on your summoners. The spells have a certain number of uses, and I think when they run out you have to buy a new one.

So this game really wasn’t my cup of tea; I certainly didn’t want to play 31 stages of it. I looked around at Japanese reviews and it seems like a lot of people complained about the same things I did, but I think if you are more tolerant of these kind of “grunts vs. grunts” games you might get more out of it than I did.

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