Monster Arena is a combination of Monster Rancher, Digimon, and Pokemon all rolled into one. World exploration has been opted out of in favor of having more focus on the monster-management mechanics (training, and equipping your monster), and of course, providing an in-depth combat system. This game is going to surprise people not expecting much from a flash game with it’s impressive sprite based graphics, well designed user interface, and of course, addictive gameplay. But the question is, with all the accessibility of smart phone apps and handheld gaming systems, how does Monster Arena stack up against the competition?
The first thing we noticed about monster arena is the visuals. The 2D sprite based artwork not only carries a very nostalgic feel, but it is well executed too. Not many CG artists these days are able to do well with the limitations of doing everything on a pixel scale, but the folks behind Monster Arena deliver a polished look. The only catch is that some of the monster designs look a little peculiar –particularly with the dragon types which do not seem properly aligned to the perspective.
Speaking of monsters, there is a wide range of them in this game. From ones that look humanoid, to the cute little furry types, to giant massive hulking ones that simply exude power. Their abilities and skills also ran the gamut, and the animations help flesh out monsters. Particle effects, high animation frames, and clever use of iconography create a cohesive gaming experience that is not only easy on the eyes, but also makes you want to see so much more of the game.
The music matches up everything in game, which is great since with the visuals, the overall playing experience feels solid. While we do wish that the audio felt a little more distinct, but we love the way that the arrangement of the BGMs feel like they are paying respect to the old-school 16-bit games (without the limitation of chiptune-style notes of course). Choosing Your Way
Playing Monster Arena comes in several phases –the game has a pretty long prep time and of course, the combat system. Depending on what you like about gaming, it is likely that you will enjoy one phase more than the other, but naturally, both are fun to do.
Prepping up is more than just choosing a monster to do battle with. You will have to feed, groom, and train the monster. Each monster has different likes and dislikes, but the general idea remains the same: keep them happy. This is actually pretty fun and rewarding, for every good action you perform, the monster responds with an expression of joy –which actually does help you bond with the virtual creature. Item management can get a little hairy at times, good thing the user interface is well designed and allows you to easily figure out which items best complement your monster. Lastly, the training comes in the form of interactive minigames. While the controls are varied, it does not take long to get used to them.
The actual battles are the most animation heavy parts of the game, and for good reason too. Monsters clash off one on one in this mode and it is up to you to build up your special power bar in order to unleash devastating attacks on your enemies. Made for Everyone
Whether you are a long-time console gamer with prior experience playing titles like Digimon and Pokemon or other monster battle games, there are many to choose, or it is your very first time to play a game like this, Monster Arena is not a bad way to start. It has good visuals, a soundtrack that is definitely on the above-average fare, and a wide variety well designed monsters that are sure to have players picking out favorites and top picks for their roster.