Published on January 8th, 2024 | by Boouya
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince Switch Review
Summary: Overall DQM: The Dark Prince is a fine and serviceable game that would be a perfect pick up for any Dragon Quest fan.
A brief history of the series
Dragon Quest Monsters is a series of monster catching games debuting on the Gameboy Color in 1998, with the original Dragon Quest Monsters released in the US and EU as Dragon Warrior Monsters due to copyright issues. This was followed by a sequel in 2001 that was only released in Japan and the US.
The Western audience did not receive a new game until 2006 with the Nintendo DS release of DQM: Joker; this was followed in 2010 with the sequel DQM: Joker 2.
Western fans of the series have now been waiting 13 years for a new entry whilst in the intervening years Japan has received 7 games across console and mobile entries.
But now both Eastern and Western fans can finally play a new game together in Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince follows the character of Psaro from Dragon Quest 4. He starts the game having been cursed by his father Randanolfo the Tyrant. The curse means Psaro is no longer able to damage monsters. So he decides to become a monster wrangler he must work his way up through the ranks and gain experience and allies to eventually be able to battle and defeat his father and lift the curse.
Of course some people will say that the plot is very basic and to that I will agree, but it has been woven very neatly into the gameplay and never feels like you are being given large amounts of exposition to read through and mindlessly tap the next button. The addition of allies who join you along your adventure fit the traditional RPG character lines; Token Female and wacky comedic character but both do not feel forced and both do not overstay their welcome and distract from the gameplay.
The gameplay in DQM: The Dark Prince follows the traditional formula of wandering around the various biomes battling and collecting various monsters that live in them. Monsters are caught using a ‘Scout’ system where probability of success comes down to the strength of your monsters and your own strength which is enhanced by winning the various tournaments that appear in the colosseum or for completing tasks for villagers.
Monsters come in a variety of shapes and sizes with the most recognisable being the Slimes. Each monster breed fits a certain roll, Attacker, Defender, Magic and healing, making sure your team is varied is the best chance for success. With over 500 monsters to choose from there is plenty of room for replay ability.
If the 500 monsters were not enough DQM also adds the ability to synth together two monsters to create a new one. You are also able to share three traits from the parents when synthing together meaning the monster you create will be more powerful and ready to take on the next challenge.
Online play is also added from your main hub area the Rosehill Tower, here you are able to battle against other players in a style very reminiscent to the online battles from the Pokemon games. Whilst these battles are fun the battle system in DQM is rather limited and does not have the same nuances that a games like Pokemon has. Tactics are very simple and focus on a turn based system where you choose each of your monsters to attack, defend and heal. Items can be used during these fights though I found very little need especially if you have a monster with good healing ability.
Graphically DQM is very inline with entries like the Builder series in comparison to the Dragon Quest 11’s more realistic approach. The more cartoonish style fits this genre of game more and all monsters and characters have a decent amount of animations and have distinct features.
The biomes and areas of the world each have individual style whilst keeping a linear style, exploration is possible but does not have the same rewards as you would see in other RPG games.
Unfortunately like everything there are some let downs and for some this may kill any want to play and that is the performance of the Switch version (I am using a launch model Nintendo Switch). At times framerate can become really choppy almost down to the single digits. There are also times where characters will randomly pop in and out which can cause confusion when you suddenly start a battle you were not prepared for. Even in the loading screen I found the animation of the slime bouncing up and down to have bad framerate.
Overall DQM: The Dark Prince is a fine and serviceable game that would be a perfect pick up for any Dragon Quest fan. Also fans of games like Pokemon or Yokai watch may get a kick out of the gameplay, but do not expect a deeper battle system like those games. Other than that I would find it hard to recommend to a casual player especially if performance is not patched.
I personally hope this sells well enough that we see future games in this story get a western English release!