previews\ Jan 24, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner - PSP - Preview

There is little in the way of a precursor to the start of the game. You are swept up in the action from the moment you launch the title. In many ways this is the prototypical Japanese RPG, in both look and feel.

As the story goes, there was a time when monsters and the people of the land lived in harmony. But that time is long gone. The monsters were sent away and many were captured in jewels. Break open a jewel and a monster is released, but they are not the creatures of the bygone era; rather they are aggressive and will attack.

Now there is a special set of people within the game known as Jewel Summoners. They can cull a monster from jewels and it will fight for them. Enter Vice, a young man whose mother was killed by an Abomination (a bad monster). He is on the path for revenge, traveling the countryside to destroy the monsters/Abominations in the hopes he will find the one responsible for his mother’s death.

Of course, Vice is destined to become a jewel summoner (come on, he’s the hero, the game is about jewel summoners – doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this was going), and he can call forth monsters to fight for him when an Abomination is encountered. Monsters, the good kind, can be swapped around if they have been fighting for too long and are growing weak, and the game – once an encounter is made – goes to split screen, and follows the traditional turn-based format of choosing an attack and then unleashing it, waiting to see what you did damage-wise and then waiting again as the enemy gets its turn.

You capture monsters for your arsenal but fighting one until it is almost defeated and then capturing it in a prism-like jewel (the game bases most of this on elements and so you need to capture a monster with the same type of elemental prism corresponding to said monster – sounds like that was just made more convoluted than it needed to be, sorry).

Fight, level and unlock new skills – all pretty standard stuff. So too is the graphical style of the game. Don’t look for anything too groundbreaking, but what is here is pleasing enough. The game consists of static, two-dimensional map screens that players will have to use to navigate. When the fights come up, the monsters square off on a mundane backdrop, with most of the PSP’s power obligated to rendering the detailed monster models.

While only in preview stage, this Atlus title may tread the familiar, but still manages to be a solid experience. The pacing can slow down a lot when you first take Vice into a town and try to navigate to find where you need to be or who you need to talk to, but this is countered by fights that are briskly paced.

While somewhat typical of the RPG genre, Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner may still prove worthy of a look for those genre fans looking for their next fix.

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