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Review: Monster Lab - Nintendo DS

by Steven Williamson on 8 October 2008, 17:01

Tags: Monster Lab, Eidos (TYO:9684), DS, Wii, RPG

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The bigger the monster, the harder it falls

Alongside you on the journey, you have three mentors, Professor Fuseless, Dr. Heleena Von Sonderbar, and Senor De La Sombra, who act as your assistants talking you through the three fields of monster creating: Mechanical, Biological and Alchemical. It’s later on in the game, as the difficulty steps up, that the differences between the three fields of monster creating become tactically important in battle.

Following one of multiple pathways through each level, you move from point to point carrying out quests, ranging from searching for a mysterious stranger to simply getting from point A to point B without dying. With the character’s movement carried out on the bottom screen, the upper screen displays a map where you can see points of interest and any monsters in front of you, which if you take the appropriate route – and if you’re fast enough - you can try and avoid on your way to your destination. Alternatively – and having much more fun in the process - you can attack any monster head on and if you’re successful you’ll be awarded with creature parts aiding you in creating bigger, better and more monstrous-looking monsters.

Whenever you do bump into a creature on your adventure, the top screen switches to an arena where you can watch the action play out and see the damage you’ve done to your opponent as well as damage inflicted on you. The bottom screen is used to choose your attacking and defensive maneuvers.

Your monster is represented on the bottom screen as a silhouette of a body, detailing 5 body parts: torso, legs, head, left arm and right arm. By selecting a part on your creature, you can select one of the attacking or defensive maneuvers relating to that part, for example the 'saw' blade' maneovre, which pertains to the arm. Each action is represented by a numerical value which indicates the damage that you can inflict, in addition to how much strength (or battery drain) that it will take from your character in the process.

It’s a simple yet effective system to do battle, one which is accessible, yet deep enough to get you thinking before making any hasty decisions. What ultimately makes combat so much fun is the range of moves on offer, the depth of the system - in terms of the strategic decisions you have to make - and the nicely weighted challenge of your opponent, which grows in ferocity as you progress.