Monster Rancher, known in Japan as Monster Farm, is a series of Life Simulation video games developed and published by Tecmo. The Monster Rancher series currently consists of fourteen games across different video game platforms, and future titles are planned. In addition, the series has been adapted into an anime series and several collector's card games.
Before the world's continents broke up into pieces, a huge disaster hit the world. People prayed to God for help, and God created new life forms. However, new life forms brought new troubles, so God became exasperated and sealed them in "Disc Stones". Many years have passed since then and God entrusted the humans with the secret of "Disc Stones," but today people still continue searching for these missing discs to unlock the lifeforms within.
It is said that the discs are almost impossible to find among the ancient ruins, and a monster is trapped inside each one. One day a group of workers excavating the ancient ruins happened to dig up one of these mythical stones, and the worker who discovered it took the disc to a temple called a Shrine. There the priests, using the ancient methods, unlocked the monster inside the stone, and it became an instant fad. Now the world is a place where ranchers and monsters coexisted peacefully, and agencies have even been formed for battle tournaments. As time passed these monster battles became extremely popular, and monster breeding became the standard past time of the land. Eventually Disc Stones were found around the entire world, and Breeders and Ranchers from all over have come to show their skills in battle!
Monster Rancher is often compared to Pokémon, although the two series play very differently. While the Pokémon games are traditionally collection-based RPGs, Monster Rancher games tend to be simulated animal breeding games. The genre Monster Rancher occupies is shared by other simulation virtual pet games such as Digimon and games based on raising horses for racing, like in the Gallop Racer series also by Tecmo.
In the games, one takes the role of a monster breeder whose goal is to raise monsters to fight in tournaments. The breeder must raise the monster throughout its life, train it, keep it healthy, make an exercise schedule, and try to maximize its abilities before it dies of old age or is retired. Monsters have good or bad morale depending on how they are raised; loyal monsters are more likely to perform critical hits, while disloyal monsters might refuse to obey commands or not fight at all. Retired monsters can be combined to create more powerful monsters.
Although not widely popular, the games do have a loyal cult following, mostly because of the games' innovative "unlocking" aspect. In Monster Rancher 1, Monster Rancher 2, Monster Rancher 3, Monster Rancher 4, and Monster Rancher EVO, monsters can be generated by inserting any CD into the game system. Monster Rancher 3, Monster Rancher 4, and Monster Rancher EVO can also use DVDs.
The characteristics of the monster (such as stats, breed, and traits) are determined by various integers stored in the game. To generate a monster, a random number generator is needed to define what characteristics the monster will have. However, because random number generators are only pseudo-random, the entropy of possible monsters would be limited by the pseudo-random seed. To resolve this, TECMO created a CD reading system that would generate unique random number seeds and, consequently, a large variety of random monsters Discs contain digital information with a different sequence of values. When the game reads this information, the values found within the discs data are mapped to the range of integers in the game.
Some CDs and DVDs can be specialized to produce rare monsters. For instance, in Monster Rancher 4 the Harry Potter DVD generates a unique owl monster, and in Monster Rancher 2 and Monster Rancher 4 TECMO's Dead or Alive game creates a Pixie named Kasumi. In Monster Rancher 2, the Lost in Translation DVD generates a unique squid-like creature. Special CDs called pandora discs can produce multiple monsters. Often, the Monster Rancher game CD itself is a pandora disc.
In Monster Rancher Advance and Monster Rancher Advance 2, the system generates random monsters by using character sequences rather than CDs, due to the limitations of the Game Boy Advance game cartridges. Certain combinations of characters will determine the monster's breed, sub-breed, stats, and traits. Passwords found in-game can be used to generate rare monsters.
In Monster Rancher DS (a Japanese-only game) and Monster Rancher DS 2, the system is revised to take advantage of the Nintendo DS's input devices. Monsters can be generated by speaking into the microphone, drawing figures on the drawing tablet, or inserting a Game Boy Advance game cartridge into the second slot.
For Monster Farm Online and Monster Farm Lagoon, the unlocking system is changed entirely. Players select a monster species you have some knowledge of, with the basic purebreeds automatically available, and insert a CD or DVD to create special traits for them. This is so that players do not need to find a disc that is unique to one particular territory to get the rarest monsters.
For My Monster Rancher, the creators went back to the character entry method for unlocking, and most monsters are released from in-game saucer stones that you recieve for winning tournaments.
- Monster Rancher 1
- Monster Rancher 2
- Monster Rancher Hop-A-Bout
- Monster Rancher Battle Card Episode 2
Game Boy ColorEdit
Game Boy AdvanceEdit
- Kaite Shabette Hajimeyou!: Monster Farm DS referred to on this site as Monster Rancher DS (Unreleased in North America)
- Monster Farm DS 2: Yomigaeru! Master Breeder Densetsu referred to on this site as Monster Rancher DS 2 (known as Monster Rancher DS in North America)
- Monster Farm Online (Beta release of an online game Nov. 2009)
- Monster Farm Lagoon (Full online version of game)
Monster Rancher was also an anime series based on the first two video games. It originally aired in Japan on TBS, while it aired in the United States on BKN (normally known as UPN, Fox, Fox Family Channel) and on Fox Kids in the United Kingdom. It ran for three seasons with a total of 73 episodes.
The Monster Rancher series has received overall positive reviews; The lowest to date, Monster Rancher EVO, was met with mediocre reviews and much criticism, due to radical changes in gameplay. The DS installations have since brought it back in popularity.