A few months back, I was perusing the Japanese Switch eShop and discovered something that made me gasp. They had remastered two of my favorite games of all time: Monster Rancher 1&2 DX! Nostalgia flooded my senses as I nearly bought it in Japanese. But, deciding there was too much text for me to know what I was doing, I sadly passed on it.
Suddenly and without warning last week, the English version was released, and tiny, internal me geeked out. I picked it up as soon as I could and jumped right back into what I was doing just over twenty years ago.
For those who don’t know, Monster Rancher is a series from around twenty-five years ago in which you raise monsters for battle. You’d be forgiven for thinking that sounds exactly like every other Pokémon wannabe that had flooded the markets at the time, but Monster Rancher was a completely different beast.
The main premise is that monsters are locked in “Disc stones” and can be freed to raise and battle. This meant you could put any CD or DVD in your Playstation, and it would generate a monster! Many a champion monster was born from a messy pile of CDs littering the living room floor.
I can’t stress how cool and addictive this was. It was also time-consuming. You had to go to the shrine, take out the game disc, put in a CD for a monster, then replace the game to see what you got. With jamming a CD impossible for all but the most determined Switch owners, Tecmo/Koei had to change that system for the re-release, and what they’ve done is perfect.
See, you can now search any artist or title you like, giving access to CDs that might have been hard or impossible to come by! Many are yet another goo dog, as is tradition, and tons are locked until you meet certain criteria in the game (I really wanna know what locked monster that Ziggy Stardust holds!)
I began this wanting to gush about the game. I searched the opening to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure part two, a little ditty called “Bloody Stream.” It gave me the best monkey with stats far too high for a newborn. I named him Joseph. He wins every tournament! He has a Stand! It’s a little banana that hops around and follows him. I named his Stand “Bannanarama.”
Fearing his mortality during his second year, I decided to cryogenically freeze Joseph at the height of his fame. Returning to the shrine, I searched “Daisuke,” hoping to get something cool from a Guilty Gear soundtrack or title. That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole.
Selecting “Daisuke Inoue,” mistaking the singer for the inventor of the karaoke machine of the same name, I chose his album from the 80s “Blue.” What I got was this:
Those stats most certainly aren’t right for the most basic monster in the game. But, how can he be so strong?! Excited, I returned him to the farm. Given that he had the capability of a small demigod, he needed no training from my meager farm. With a battle scheduled for the next day, I let him rest.
He died the next morning. His funeral was filled with people who had zero time to meet him, talking about how great he was. His final stats showed he lived for zero years and zero months. Why? Why did he go right away!? I scoured the internet for any information on this album that may have a clue. Some discs give special monsters. Searching Dead or Alive for Playstation gives you a pixy dressed like Kasumi from that series, for example. Looking into the tracklist, I found this:
If I couldn’t find an explanation, my mind was gonna backstory this shit on its own. My monster died at birth because Daisuke Inoue felt coke, much like many musicians in the 80s felt. I find my trips to nostalgic things often end with a trip to crazy-town. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it is an adult perspective on weird shit I liked when I was young. I honestly can’t say. I recommend this remake. It’s as fun as I remember. Hell, it’s more fun now with total access to any disc. It can just…get kinda strange at times.
Monster Rancher and the banner image are owned by Tecmo/Koei
Daisuke Inoue – Blue is property of Sony Music Japan