The first thing I noticed about Monster Tale -- and the thing that you likely won't be able to help noticing either -- is that it feels so much like playing something on your Super Nintendo, it's not even funny. For that alone, I love Majesco for this. Not everything retro-flavored is good ... but if it's done right, it can be wonderful.
When Monster Tale opens, you'll meet Ellie, the blue-haired girl you are going to play. Ellie finds herself in a mysterious world with an adorable creature named Chomp who follows her around and just so happens to be willing to assist her during battle. This is where your adventure begins ... and while it's not exactly a unique premise, it does give the developers the opportunity to put some really fun game mechanics into play.
The second thing you are going to notice about Monster Tale right off the bat is that its map system works like Castlevania's does in the more recent DS titles. By no means is this a bad thing, either. After Chomp's introduction, you'll be gently eased into the ways he can be used. I especially appreciated the speed at which we are introduced to new mechanics here -- it does a wonderful job of explaining without making the user feel talked down to or left in the dark.
As shown in the screenshot above, both screens are cleverly implemented by dedicating the bottom screen to something called Chomp's "Pet Sanctuary". The little critter can swoop down there to regain health, eat powerups you find ("pet items"), and learn new skills by reading scrolls. It keeps you busy and dices up the sidescrolling part of the adventure, but never feels like a chore.
Monster Tale also manages to pull off another challenging feat in being cute without being annoyingly so. It is not as difficult as the sidescrollers it seems to be inspired by, but remains challenging enough to be worth playing. As Chomp develops, you can carefully customize him by using the money you find on weapons, powerups and more, so his performance is really what you make it. You'll want to choose wisely too, because there are lots of epic bosses coming that you'll need to be ready for!
Monster Tale comes out this March for the Nintendo DS and will retail for $29.99. If you want some quality gaming time reliving the joy of your 16 bit days, you just might to check this one out!
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