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|Setting the Scene:
It seems that retro is becoming very popular on the Playstation. You only have to take a look at the shelves of your local games shop to see it. With Namco Museums, Atari Classics Collection, R-Types Collection, Raiden Project and now Master of Monsters, the trend continues.
Starting its' life as a 16 bit game and amassing a HUGE following with addictive but simple gameplay, Master of Monsters makes the transition to 32 bit. If you were a fan of the original you're asking how ASCII has converted this classic and if they have done the original justice. If you've never heard of Master of Monsters you're probably thinking about donuts right now. Pay attention either way because you're in for a surprise.
In Master of Monsters (MoM) you play a small child who mysteriously gains the ability to command one of six disciples in an effort to save the world from destruction at the hands of Gaia, a good God gone bad. Each of the six magicians have unique spell casting an summoning abilities, you must pick your disciple and use their skills to overcome the armies Gaia to free your people from oppression.
Each of the characters has their own class (Law, Neutral and Chaos) and gains experience through winning battles, as a character gains more experience their battle effectiveness also increases. The class of the monster or master also effects their capacity to fight as the landscape around you changes from night to day and back again.
Another interesting feature of MoM is the ability to 'Fuse' your monsters together, at certain locations around the maps you can choose to attempt a 'Fuse' in order to create a more powerful monster or a blob of blue slime (depending on the combination you choose). With only limited turns in which to overcome your enemies, are you up to the challenge or will you just be Wyvern food like the rest?
While MoM possesses RPG-like features I think it is a bit of a stretch calling it a full blooded Roll Playing Game. However, if you're looking for a good RPG, don't let that scare you off as it has enough of those qualities to interest you.
The turn based combat mixed with intense strategy, many different monsters and landscapes create a mix that takes the game beyond mere RPG status, into the realm of Action RPG/Strategy.
Sound and Vision:
I wish I had the original MoM and two televisions next to each other, then I could load up both games and be astounded at how little the graphics had changed between 16 bit and 32 bit versions. Apart from the semi-3D close-up battle scenes, there are no graphical elements in the Playstation version of MoM that couldn't have been done on a 16 bit machine.
The majority of the graphics are sprite based, the story parts are all still framed painted pictures with captioned text and there are no fancy light source, polygon spinning or texture mapping tricks. On the good side, there is definitely no pop-up, clipping or slowdown and the animations (few that they are) are very smooth and fast.
In fact, apart from the simplistic nature of the graphics there are no major complaints in this department except for the odd weird overlapping effect during a monster evolution, which should definitely have been picked up during testing. Luckily, it's not the graphics that make a game worth playing and MoM has a lot more to offer, but if all you're looking for is stunning eye candy look somewhere else.
The sounds and effect fit very well with the graphics, simple but effective. The music and effects are nothing you wouldn't have heard coming out of your TV speaker while playing any 16 bit console game.
The music is very midi-like and repetitive and the effects are simplistic and lack inspiration.
There are some clever effects in the game, for instance the music changes to a dramatic tune as battles start and each monsters had their own unique set of sounds, simplistic as they are.
Again, luckily the sounds and effects are not what will keep you coming back for more in this game. If you're after an awe inspiring aural experience go play 'Fluid'.
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