Monster Tale

Developed in the United States by DreamRift
Published by Majesco
Released in 2011 for the Nintendo DS

The follow-up to Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure takes the side-scrolling platformer and combines it with the Tamagotchi monster breeding toys of the late-nineties. The fearless child-hero Ellie uses her monster buddy Chomp as an intermediary for the action on the top and bottom screen. By giving Chomp access to consumables, he grows into more powerful “youth”, “teenage”, and “adult” phases. Ideally, the player uses Chomp’s different forms (which assume the power of fire, earth, or water) to exploit the weaknesses of opponents. The problem?  Monster Tale falls into the same pratfalls as 2004’s Cave Story, i.e. “It’s got some good mechanics, but it’s way too easy!”  Chomp’s repertoire is never necessary because nothing commands the challenge or difficulty level. His starter skills are the only thing necessary to wipe out most bad guys. And without anything to push the limits of the player, the flaws of what may be the most linear Metroidvania game ever made become readily apparent. It’s clear that Monster Tale is lovingly crafted and that the combat system remains top-notch. There’s just no reason to explore and embrace it.

★★