i'm sure i'll come up with a better title than that by the time i get to posting this. if this message is still here, then i've failed. badly.

i first saw mention of monster crown around the time it released because one of the monsters in it was designed by mossworm - an artist whose work i quite enjoy. for a long time it sat in the back of my mind as "that one gbc pokeclone i might try sometime." recently, i nabbed it as an impulse buy to try scratching my constant creature collector itch. i'm writing this so you don't make the same mistake i did.

fuck i took a melatonin an hour ago im feeling it

an ingame screenshot of monster crown's overworld. the player character is standing in front of a coffee shop with a green partner monster.

i want to like this game So Bad. i really truly do. i bought it largely because i was extremely interested in the crossbreeding mechanics (and only became moreso when i found out about modded "pedigrees," i.e. crossbreeds with custom sprites to make more or less new creatures entirely) but it is so Fucking Broken. like i am not lying to you i could not go more than five minutes without encountering some kind of unexplainable bug in this game. i've been playing on pc (as opposed to console) so i have no idea if they're any more or less present there but fuck it is so annoying.

broken ui and graphical glitches are present from the very start of the game. literally before you even start playing the character customization ui is fucked up

monster crown character customization. the arrows to cycle through character sprites are misaligned and partially overlap the sprite itself.

another view of the broken customization ui, this time showing a fullbody sprite in the corner of the screen that is offset to the point of displaying behind the arrows around it.

one of the most common bugs is that monster sprites will just become semi-transparent completely at random. this persists between battles but sometimes fixes itself for a bit. i have no idea what causes either of these

monster crown character customization. the arrows to cycle through character sprites are misaligned and partially overlap the sprite itself.

i've encountered multiple softlocks which is also really fucking annoying. getting softlocked in a menu was the first thing that happened after i got my starter. one thats gotten me a couple times now while trying to do a particularly annoying puzzle happens when i dare to stand on this specific tile that just freezes me in place until i use a hotkey to warp myself back to the farm

an ingame screenshot taken inside a grassy cave. the player character stands at a bend in the path next to a large bridge.

worth noting as well that NONE of the pages relevant to doing that modding i was so interested in work at all. all of the steam news pages and pinned discord messages that link to it are completely broken and link to different nonexistent sites or 404 pages. the absolute CLOSEST i was able to get to finding a working "solution" was finding the sprite importer tool through the wayback machine and using it there. the same could not be said for the gallery, where other people had uploaded their own crossbreeds to use.

uh, as far as actual gameplay goes, it's... fine? i can appreciate the aspect of exploration theyre going for but i never felt like i could really get into it without getting stuck in some obscure corner of the map. when i first booted up the game and saw an exp share option i was super stoked bc most pokeclones are like vehemently against them for some fucking reason but i very quickly found out that - despite being on by default - this game does not want you using the exp share. the way it works here is that after you win a battle, experience is evenly distributed between all of your monsters (of which you can have up to 8). when i had it on, even with less than a full party, my monsters were gaining a whopping total of 1 (or maybe 2) exp per battle. turned off, one monster instead gained 20+ exp per battle. this was not nearly as non-grindy as i was hoping. it was so much worse.

a screenshot of monster crown's post-battle screen, showing a party of four monsters gaining one point of experience each.

another big issue i've had with the overall design here is that i've encountered, like, a disproportionate amount of overleveled boss monsters in just completely unexplained innocuous areas. one of them was a scripted loss as part of the story, which was fine, but the others were just kind of randomly plopped into the world? the most egregious of these by far was a random dragon that appeared when i entered an otherwise completely normal house next to a ferry (this is actually the opposing monster in the screenshot showcasing the weird sprite transparency bug, for reference) - even weirder and more frustrating though was that after i forfeited that fight and came back it was like nothing ever happened. i was able to enter the house just fine. not that it mattered, because the only thing in it was an npc that does nothing but talk about the ship next to it.

a screenshot of a house on the coast next to a docked ship. the player is standing in front of the door.

the interior of the house. there is nothing of particular note visible. a female npc stands in the corner facing a wall.

there's also a handful of other mechanics and features that exist but feel clunky at best or broken at worst. in some of the screenshots above you can see a little green circle with a monster icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen. that's the monster radar, which you get from an npc when you start exploring the eastern side of the map. i think it's supposed to direct you towards nearby monsters, but i don't think i've seen it work correctly once. even if it did i think it'd be pretty useless, especially with the sheer amount of monsters that tend to spawn out of bounds. it really feels like just another part arbitrarily tacked onto the broken ui.

the story is billed pretty hard as being "dark" and generally more mature than that of most pokemon plots but i feel like it's really superficial in that regard? stuff just kind of... happens. sometimes characters curse. there's an evil team running around somewhere. your dad wanders off into the forest and almost gets eaten by a monster. after beating the first boss trainer he rows a boat into the middle of a lake and gets turned into blood by a big animal.

i still think it's best described as "pokemon RBY but weird stuff happens at random."

i dont know if i'll be able to complete this game. i do not care about the story. i would, however, like to see more of the monsters and at the very least experiment with crossbreeds to some extent. i dont want to grind. it's getting dire. i cant go on much longer

after finally unlocking breeding i have some newfound motivation if purely motivated By Monster Breeding. being someone who spent a LOT of time just breeding shinies with competitive-tier stats i would never use in pokemon ultra sun i do genuinely think i could get a huge kick out of minmaxing breeding combos to get the perfect monsters here. i especially love the idea that just about any monster i like can become "viable" if i can breed the right stats onto it. i just dont fucking know if i'll have the patience to get to the point where i can really have fun with that

a screenshot of the ranch ui, offset to the point that it is partially offscreen and covering other elements and text.

the vast majority of the bugs i've encountered have been ui-related and they're SO BAD in the monster box it is genuinely fucking unusable. most of the time the selection menu to move or release a monster is just completely invisible and i physically cannot navigate to the bottom row. i can barely manage to select monsters to begin with. i cannot fathom how it could have possibly gotten this bad. this game was twenty dollars

RATING: 2.5/10

i would really, really like to see this game improve. i would love to finish it sometime if only it was functional. in the time between starting my playthrough and now, the devs have announced both the completion of new DLC AND a sequel game. the DLC in particular has been refered to as a "final 'content pack,'" which both interests and worries me. i can't see it getting much better without some really major overhauls. i really like the crossbreeding stuff though

FAVORITE CREATURES: darwhol, laz, nautlus, amphyvern, lazsuit, saliskipper (unstable), megalico (unstable), gualop (malicious)

Darwhol, a purple, whale-like creature with clawed fins and a saddle-like shell on its back. Laz, a small, undead quadruped with molded skin. Nautlus, a cyan-and-yellow mollusk-like creature with four tentacle-like limbs and a beak. it has two shells - a curled one covering its back half and another shaped like a helmet on its head. Amphyvern, a brown-and-green wyvern with a frog-like head and large tusks. its wings and tail are fin-like. Lazsuit, a quadrupedal monster with a wide, toothy grin and big eyes shooting out clouds of smoke. its limbs all taper to a point. its body is green, and its head and neck are a darker color than the rest of it. Saliskipper (Unstable), a fat axolotl-like creature with a big head and dopey smile. it is cyan, purple, and white. Megalico (Unstable), a stocky orange quadruped resembling a cross between a housecat and a basking shark. its mouth is open wide. its coat is covered in jaguar-like rosettes. Gualop (Malicious), a bipedal monster that somewhat resembles both a shark and a dinosaur. it has short horns on its head and an overbite, showing a few sharp teeth. it has a dark green bottom half and a lime green upper half.