Monster Tale is a 2D platformer game with some RPG and pet raising sim elements, developed by DreamRift,
whose previous game was Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
, also on the Nintendo DS.
The game follows the story and adventures of Ellie, a young girl that one night wanders off from her home, finding a bracelet in the woods that ends up transporting her to the Monster World. Upon arriving, she discovers an egg with a very distinctive spiral design from which hatches a cute little monster that she decides to name Chomp.
Ellie initially sets out to find Chomp's mother and to find her own way home, but slowly discovers that the Monster World is home to other children who rule over the land with an iron fist, keeping the monsters in their servitude, rather than treating them as equals. She then champions the cause of helping to liberate the Monster World, while still attempting to find a way back to her own world.
The gameplay consists mainly of a 2D platforming adventure where you have direct control of Ellie that takes place on the top screen of the Nintendo DS, and the "Pet Sanctuary" on the bottom screen where you can raise and evolve Chomp into different forms by giving him various items.
Ellie has both a melee attack where she attacks with her satchel, and a ranged attack where she fires bullets from her bracelet. Use of the bracelet drains a Super Meter on the bottom screen, but successful melee attacks will gradually fill the meter. There is a combo counter on the bottom screen that increases as Ellie and Chomp successfully hit enemies with melee atta cks in quick succession. This has two effects: firstly, enemies defeated when the combo counter is high will drop more money, and secondly, Ellie's Super Meter recharges more quickly.
As the game progresses, Ellie will gain new abilities which give her new attacks to use in battle as well as allowing her to explore more areas of the map, in true Metroidvania fashion. (The shrines that imbue her with new moves even look similar to the Chozo Statues
from Metroid!) These moves include things like dashing, combo melee attacks, wall jumps, charge shots, etc.
The player has limited direct control over Chomp; mainly, a button press is used to decide whether you want Chomp to be on the top screen or the bottom. If Chomp is on the top screen, he will automatically attack enemies that are in the vicinity, but his Pet Meter on the bottom screen will slowly drain over time, plus decrease even further if he takes damage. As Chomp levels up and evolves, he can learn special moves, and up to 2 of them can be assigned at any time to the L and R buttons. These can be used on command with a button press, unlike Chomp's normal attack.
If Chomp is on the bottom screen, he will consume pet items that you have collected over the course of the game, but this will be discussed more in-depth in the next section. Additionally, this will also fill up the Pet Meter rather quickly, allowing you to bring him back up to the top screen and continue to help Ellie.
There is a minor rock-paper-scissors mechanic that is presented in the game through the idea of elemental affinities. There are three elements in the game: fire, water, and earth. Water beats fire, fire beats earth, and earth beats water. Some monsters have certain element affinities, and similarly, Chomp's evolutions and special moves have their own independent elemental types. Damage dealt and received by Chomp is dictated by the elemental relationship between him and the enemy he is fighting.
Raising and Evolving Chomp
Chomp levels up by gaining experience points from defeating enemies and from consuming pet items, which are occasionally dropped by enemies, and can also be purchased at the shop. New levels get him more special moves, stat increases, and new traits (which can effect him in various ways, but must be manually assigned into a limited number of slots). If a particular form of Chomp levels up high enough (each evolution has its own independent experience bar), he can "master" particular moves or traits, allowing them to be equipped in other forms.
The "Evo Screen" allows the player to choose which Chomp form they would like to use at any given time. The mechanic is not like Pokemon where evolutions are permanent and previous forms can not be used anymore; it is more akin to unlocking a new class in an RPG, giving you new moves and a different set of stats to use. The Evo Screen is presented in a tree-like structure; a new form can only be unlocked by using the form that it is directly branching off of. There is a progress bar for each form showing how close you are to unlocking it. Different forms have different requirements for unlocking them, and each one has a short blurb hinting at what is necessary.
Oftentimes, this will involve giving Chomp a particular type of pet item. These items range in category from food and sweets to toys and exercise equipment. Feeding Chomp items will increase his stats as well as possible increase the evolution progress bar. Occasionally, they will also help out with the action on the top screen, such as the toy catapult firing cannonballs which will damage enemies.