Brad: I think its safe to say that nobody plays strategy games for the graphics, but there is a minimum requirement of functionality. When I play Warlords, I can tell my infantry apart from my cavalry because my infantry looks like a little guy, and my cavalry looks like a little guy on a horse. In Master of Monsters, all my units just sort of look like red blobs. This slows things down, as now I have to select every one of them to figure out what they are, and what they’re attacking. But at least I can tell what they are eventually – the same can’t be said of terrain. Are those red lines supposed to be a mountain, or a lava pool, or just a really big pizza that someone left laying around? I need to know, because different landscapes can have a variety of effects on my units.
Our yellow Pegasus takes on one of the blue blobs… whichever one is the dragon.
Of course, since the game never makes the information about terrain effects readily available, I guess it’s a moot point, anyway. I’ll just assume it’s a mountain, move my red blob there, and hope that my red blob gets a bonus from fighting on what might be a mountain. I don’t mind this complete lack of necessary info – it’s not like I’m trying to plan a war or anything.
We gave Master of Monsters the nod over a lot of other hex-based strategy games in the Genesis library largely because it was one of a few that we could understand without taking a college-level course in it first. A lot of the resource management aspects are simplified, but in a good way that streamlines the game and allows you to focus on tactics. But understanding the game conceptually, and actually being able to figure out what’s going on are two different things. And MoM withholds the info that we need to be able to do both.
You could try to track down a copy of the fairly rare Master of Monsters, checking out eBay, going to used game stores and flea markets, and probably spend about $20 to buy a copy, which may or may not still have a functional battery for saving your game. Or you could download the game I mentioned a two paragraphs ago, Warlords, which is in the same genre but vastly superior, off of an abandonware site and play it on the very PC you’re using to read this. For free. Your choice. I know it may not seem fair to compare a PC game to a Genesis title, but believe me when I tell you that the things that make Warlords so much better have almost everything to do with design and little to do with platform.
Lazy-ass summoners. Why don’t you ever fight your own battles for once?
Stryker: This game’s decent, but I’d be lying if I said that my fondest memory of it wasn’t when some guy came into my store and traded it in for a few bucks. And that ended up being the copy that went into my personal collection, so its not like I even got to enjoy a 900% markup on it or anything. So basically my favorite thing about Master of Monsters is that I saved about $17 on it. I guess that’s something.
Mr. Do!: Rare games are rare for a reason – nobody bought them. Sometimes there’s a good explanation as to why.