You play as the niece or nephew and successor to Hector Finnegan, a world-famous monster tamer. While the country is torn as to the legitimacy of the claims, Hector was found guilty of treason and executed for the murder of the emperor. As his successor, you seek to carry on Hector's legacy and clear the family name. As you and your monsters grow more powerful, you discover a hidden world within the monster tamer ring. There could be more to Hector's story than what the majority wants you to believe.
Single-player turn based rpg, online PVP, monster training and collecting
Neo Monsters is an on-going game with frequent story updates. Thus far there is no "ending" to the game. Completing the League Battles can take weeks to months depending on patience or financial investment into the app.
Oct. 22, 2015
Publisher: NTT REsonant Inc.
Genre: Monster Tamer/RPG
Rating: 9+ Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Price: $.99 + Optional in-game purchases
Pocket Trend has put out some pretty solid games for the Apple App store. I was actually introduced to the developer through the predecessor to Neo Monsters—Dragon Trainer, Hunter Island, but I found the former to be more noteworthy as it has improved on a lot of shortcomings of its successor. As a fan of Pokémon, monster taming games are an easy draw for me; the RPG elements included and the convenience of having the game available to me in my pocket are extremely appealing. While expectations of IOS games are never as high as those for consoles, I still found myself impressed with the amount of thought put into Neo Monsters. It’s certainly not a game for everyone and yes, it is a clear clone of Pokémon games, but it shouldn’t be overlooked by die-hard monster tamer fans.
You play as the nephew or niece of the renowned monster trainer, Hector Finnegan. The game opens up with a young version of the protagonist witnessing his uncle’s historic win within the championships, claiming the title for himself. Some time passes and the protagonist has inherited Hector’s old monster ranch. They choose a starter monster out of three available options (sound familiar?) and set off to begin capturing and training monsters, expanding the monster ranch, and working their way up through the monster leagues. It sounds like it’s ripped right out of the Pokémon franchise, and… it is, but the story takes its own life from there.
As your character progresses through the league, it’s slowly revealed through your rivals, NPC’s, and your character’s mentor—an elderly man that watches the ranch while you’re away—that Hector was accused of having assassinated the late emperor. He was executed for his crimes and given a nameless grave. There are doubts behind Hector’s treachery and a conspiracy beings to unravel itself. The story is further expanded upon by engaging in the side-quests that are accessible through the “online” gateway on the home screen.
In these side-quests the protagonist is sent back through time in rifts in the dimensional fabric and actually encounters Hector in his youth working as a simple bodyguard and escort. It’s discovered that the protagonist is not the only individual using these rifts in time and altering the past. A mysterious group of shady characters armed with their own teams of monsters is constantly attempting to kill Hector. The story is told through a series of dialogues. There are no cutscenes to speak of, but it’s presented in a way that holds the player’s attention.
The story is still being unraveled through ongoing online updates to the app.
There’s really no religion to speak of in Neo Monsters. There are holy and evil aligned monsters, and some of the evil monsters’ designs are a little occultist in nature, but they’re pretty mild. The holy monsters often bear crosses or angelic features, but there are no direct references to any faith.
The animated violence is extremely mild. There are animations for attacks, and the monsters wiggle when they perform these attacks, but there is no on-screen blood or gore. Murder and violence is implied through the story, but again it’s kept pretty mild.
There are mild innuendos made by NPC’s and the “d” word is said here and there, but I’ve heard more crude language out of elementary school students.
Taverns exist, and drinking is mentioned, but nothing goes beyond that.
While simple, Neo Monsters does touch on the importance of legacy. It’s established from the beginning of the game that the protagonist is endeared to their uncle Hector and is striving not only to walk in his footsteps, but to find a way to clear his name and restore the family’s honor. It is surprising to see a game that focuses on a beloved uncle when the parents were very much alive. Most games would either have the son follow in the footsteps of his father or have the main character having been orphaned at a young age be raised by the uncle in order to establish this connection. Instead, there’s just a simple bond between the nephew/niece and the uncle. It really is a small detail, but it’s an angle that isn’t seen too often in any media.
There’s also something to be said about the protagonist’s refusal to take the mainstream assumptions surrounding his uncle’s treachery to heart. Instead of falling into despair or hiding in shame to avoid being branded with Hector’s crime, the protagonist seeks the truth through trials and through bypassing time itself. They defend Hector in the past physically and his reputation in the future. Rather than submitting to the popular opinion and hearsay, the protagonist looks into the matter personally.
The controls of Neo Monsters are touch-based, requiring you to navigate through several screens in order to progress the story, train your monsters, arrange your teams, etc. The first screen you will encounter, as well as the screen you’ll spend the majority of the game working from, is the home screen. Here, you have access to the league battles, training, explore, monsters, hatch, the shop, and online challenges.
The easiest way to explain the gameplay is to break down each of these screens.
In Explore, you are given a world map to engage in adventure. As you progress through the league, new maps are unlocked for you with new monsters at higher levels, new dungeons, and new tamers. Each map has at least one dungeon and several checkpoints that you can fast travel to when entering that map from the home screen. Each map also has different areas where rare monsters can be encountered. You will be alerted to these rare monsters when you enter a specific area. Explore is where you will be encountering and capturing the majority of your monsters, the strongest of which will be located within the dungeon areas of the map. Much like Pokémon , monsters are captured easiest when their HP has been lowered. In Neo Monsters, when a monster is in the red, your luck will be between 70-90%. You can use a capture-card to capture the monster. If the capture card breaks, the monster cannot be captured and you will have to try again in a new encounter or on another monster in the encounter. Encounters generally consist of four or more monsters, so there is plenty of opportunities to capture a large number of monsters if you can chip away at their HP.
Dungeons contain the area’s strongest and most rare monsters, but in order to retain all your captured monsters from within the dungeon you must survive the dungeon and defeat the dungeon boss. Dungeon bosses cannot be captured, but they are typically the evolved form of monsters that you fight in their encounter that are able to be captured.
In each map there are four trainers that are encountered. You must defeat each of the trainers before you can participate in the League Battle’s current tier.
Training monsters is a little different in this game from other monster tamer games. In Neo Monsters, you do not gain exp for your monsters through the course of battles. Instead, you gain training points. Training points are more easily obtained through trainer battles and online challenges than in grinding against wild monsters. It could take hours to gain even a handful of training points and those points are burned up within minutes. In this regard, I highly suggest taking advantage of the online challenges. They require tickets (which I will address later) but it still takes less time to train your monsters using the online challenges than outright grinding.
In the Training screen, you can train one of your teams of monsters. Teams can be arranged in the “monsters” menu from the home screen. You are given a set of cards that range from bronze to gold and represent different stats. There are cards for attack, hp, defense, and speed. Using gold cards give you more exp points towards that stat for the monsters you are training. However, using the same kind of card (like attack cards) in succession gives you combos which also give you more exp. Using a card costs one training point, and every card also has a step count on the top of the card. Your trainer will walk that many steps and gain a new training card for their hand. The stat of the card is always random, but the color of the card is determined by the color of the spot your character lands on. Gold spots will award you with a gold card. Purple cards have random effects like shuffling your current hand for a new hand or upgrading your cards. These purple cards are obtained by landing on purple spots. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, but it does require some trial and error.
Training allows your monsters to increase in strength in each of their stats, obviously, but it also allows them to evolve. Evolution in monster tamer games isn’t exactly a surprise, nor is it unique to any one franchise. However, Neo Hunters has taken a page from Pokémon’s “Mega-evolution”and has its own version- Ultra-evolution. (…creative, I know.) Ultra-evolution requires not only level ups of a certain monster, but element components gathered from online missions. Bottles, coins, and other “ingredient monsters” can be captured or rewarded during these gathering missions. It requires a lot of these creatures and the missions require a lot more online tickets so it can be time-consuming. The ultra-evolved monsters are extremely powerful but they cost more to keep within your party. In addition to an already complicated and timely process, every monster only has a certain amount of training sessions that they can partake in. More sessions may be bought by using de-aging fruits but again these fruits are obtained via online missions. One fruit buys the monster one more training session. It takes a lot of time to fully train, evolve, and max out a monster. Either you spend a lot of time waiting for your online tickets to replenish themselves or you spend some cash to buy more. At first, the training process isn’t too cumbersome, but as the tournaments become more difficult, it becomes more and more of a pain. It could take days of training, online play, and gathering before your team is ready.
It’s essential to build a decent team of monsters and train them before attempting the league battles. Team building is a little more complicated than in most other monster taming games as well. You have a certain amount of points that you can spend on your team and 16 potential slots. As you level up as a trainer and move up through the league battles, you can gain more points so that you can expand your team or add more powerful monsters. Every monster has a cost. The stronger the monster, the more it will cost to add it to your team. Because of this, you’ll have to build your teams to be both effective and powerful within your allowed budget. As your monsters evolve, their cost goes up. Rare, epic, and legendary monsters also cost more but they tend to perform better in battle. Stats aside, teams should also have elemental diversity. You can arrange up to four different teams. A team of a single element may be useful during explore, but during trainer and league battles having a variety of elements is always a good idea. Some elements are stronger against others and deal more critical damage. Some monsters have passive effects that can greatly aid you in battle as well. For example, one of my monsters has the passive ability “auto poison” which will inflict any new monsters my opponents send out with the poison condition. It works very well with the “poison eater” ability which offers critical damage when used against a monster inflicted with the poison ailment. Some attacks damage multiple monsters, some monsters heal, and others may effect your team or individual monsters in a negative way. Combat in Neo Monsters is a good deal more complicated than a lot of monster tamer games, and it takes some time to get used to but the game is good at offering help. Attacks that will have a greater effect in the moment will be highlighted and elemental strengths and weaknesses are offered on the battle screen, so you don’t have to memorize a lot of battle tactics and elemental match-ups.
Completing league battle tiers gives you more trainer points, exp, and gems as well as moves the main story along.
Online activities require tickets, which replenish with time. Some activities, such as gathering missions, require more tickets. The story missions, those involving time-travel, require fewer tickets and offer bonus EXP which really comes in handy for training. You also get daily log-in prizes if you turn on the app at least once a day. Of course, there are community updates and a PVP function that has just been released.
Finally, there is the matter of the in-app purchases. You can buy additional tickets, de-aging fruits, and gems. Gems allow you to buy golden eggs which hatch out rare, legendary, or epic monsters. These monsters are randomized but you are always guaranteed a rare monster that’s a bit stronger than those that you can find in the wild. Those with ultra-evolution are infinitely more powerful but they cost a good chunk of your team points so it’s a give or take.
Overall, this game is pretty impressive for an app. The monster sprites are animated (even if they’re limited to battle animations), and there are hundreds of monsters that you can encounter and capture. Of course, there are several that look like Pokémon or digimon, but there are hundreds still that are actually very creative and fun to look at. The character art is hit or miss and they express a few limited emotions through image changes, but again it’s an app game so they were limited in how they could present multiple characters and a larger story.
The over world looks nice and the environments blend well with the character sprite. It’s all done in an anime to chibi style, but it works very well. Visually, everything is very colorful and well-rendered.
The soundtrack is nothing outstanding but it’s actually easy to listen to. Dungeons, the over-world, battles, and different areas all have their own themes. The sound effects are minimal and there’s no voice acting but all in all, it’s not something I’d put on silent if I can help it.
A lot of time and effort went into the creation of Neo Monsters. At times, it can be frustrating and needlessly complicated, but overall it’s a nice little game to sit down with. I enjoy seeing the monster designs and oddly enough, I find myself invested in the story of the game—I want to know about Hector’s supposed treachery. The battles require a good deal of strategy and it is really rewarding when I can pull off a win. I’ve only spent $.99 on the game, so the in-app purchases aren’t as necessary as they are in other games. It’s no Pokémon , but anyone that’s a monster lover will find something to enjoy with this game.
+ Hundreds of monsters to capture, train, and evolve.
+ Unique training and combat system
+ Interesting story
+ Visually appealing
+ Nice soundtrack
- Training can be a little time consuming
- In app purchases
- Necessary wait times if you don't want to spend cash
- Some designs are very clearly inspired by other monster training games
- Eats away at the battery life of your device