Pokémon is the single most recognisable monster collecting video game franchise in the world, and for good reason. The Pokémon formula is so great that it has barely changed in its 25-year history. If it’s not broke then why fix it, right?
However, the dominance of Pokémon doesn’t mean the franchise hasn’t had its fair share of competitors and knockoffs. In fact monster collecting can be considered an entire video game genre of its own. Let’s explore a few of the great monster collecting games that were inspired by Pokémon.
Digimon World (PS1)
Digimon World didn’t get much love from critics at the time, but I think it has stood the test of time as the quintessential monster raising game. In Digimon World, you raise one Digimon at a time by training or battling to raise its stats. Every so often, you’ll need to care for your Digimon by feeding it, letting it use the restroom or going to sleep.
But the most fun part about Digimon World are the evolutions. Unlike Pokémon, Digimon don’t have linear evolution paths. Instead, each Digimon has branching evolutions which are determined based on your Digimon’s stats and how well they’re taken care of. It’s always exciting to see what your Digimon will evolve into.
Another great aspect of Digimon World is that there are no random encounters. Unlike the majority of Pokémon games, you can actually see the monsters roaming around, which is great when you’re low on HP and don’t want to battle.
If you are still hungry for more Digimon games after beating Digimon World, I recommend checking the great PS4 Digimon games, which include new gameplay mechanics and even more Digimon.
The Temtem hype might have died down a little bit, but it’s still a great game even as an early access game. With many gamers feeling disappointed with Pokémon Sword and Shield, the early access of Temtem came at a great time. If you’re not familiar with Temtem, it’s essentially a Pokémon game with slightly different combat mechanics. But the concept is the same as Pokémon — catch monsters, battle other tamers, level up, and evolve.
The developers are planning for a full release of Temtem in 2021.
Monster Rancher (PS1)
Monster Rancher is a criminally underrated monster collecting video game series that started with a great game on the original PlayStation. So what was so special about Monster Rancher? This game series had a unique disc-reading mechanic. If you inserted a CD in your PlayStation, it would generate a monster. Once you have a monster, you could raise it to battle other monsters.
Unfortunately, the variety of monsters isn’t as impressive as Digimon and Pokémon and the gameplay is pretty simple in comparison. Regardless, it’s a fun game and could easily take hours of your time.
Dragon Quest Monsters (GBC)
Dragon Quest Monsters, known as Dragon Warrior Monsters in North America, allows you to battle with and against the monsters from the Dragon Quest series. Like the mainline Dragon Quest games, you’ll have random encounters with monsters. The difference in Dragon Quest Monsters is that you can add defeated monsters to your party.
Dragon Quest Monsters was ahead of its time because it introduced a breeding mechanic before breeding was introduced in Pokémon games. And many of the monsters can only be obtained by breeding, which makes this an important aspect of the game.
Updated versions of this game were released on the original PlayStation and the Nintendo 3DS, but both versions were only released in Japan.
Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu (PS1)
Jade Cocoon is a role-playing game that’s sometimes described as a mix between Final Fantasy and Pokémon. You take control of a Cocoon Master and traverse through a world filled with monsters called minions. And just like Digimon World, there are no random encounters in Jade Cocoon — you can see the monsters frolicking about in the world. You can capture monsters in a cocoon to use them in battle. You can also combine monsters to level up their stats and abilities.
Aside from the cool monster catching mechanics, the game also has an extremely charming art style with beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds. Jade Cocoon’s relaxing soundtrack isn’t half bad either.
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