Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner - PSP - Review
Vengeance has a bittersweet flavor. On one hand, the quest to find and kill the abomination that murdered his mother is a constant struggle for Vice. It will be the end-game for his family’s honor. On the other hand, the quest itself leads to a more powerful course in life – that of a jewel summoner.
Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner is a role-playing PSP release from Atlus. The game centers on Vice, and tells a decent story.
According to the backstory 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.
This has led to the current state of the world. Monsters, or abominations, occasionally attack and cause general mayhem. One killed Vice’s mother, which has set him on the path to track down and destroy the wretched beast. But wait a moment … Vice is not the only one with a vested interest in the monsters.
In the kingdom there is a special profession known as Jewel Summoners. They can cull a monster from jewels and it will fight for them. Now it seems rather obvious that 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 by 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).
But that is merely the edge of this layered cake. You see, you can level the monsters, boosting their skills and traits to take a rudimentary beast and then bolster it into a formidable fighting machine. Hey, you may even get attached to the monstrosity after you invest so much time in the beast.
But there is that word – prototypical, and in that regard Jewel Summoner does not stray too far from the formula. You fight, you level, you unlock new skills. Graphically this is a title that also borrows heavily from previous games of its ilk. The visual presentation 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.
The game’s soundtrack is a little on the sparse side, and some of the text-driven dialogue seems a little forced, but that is all par for this particular course.
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.
The differentiating elements of this game, and the clear stars, are the monsters and the ability to level them up to create an arsenal of creatures, covering the various elements and capable of fighting the range of monsters you will encounter. Consider it akin to a team game where you select the best starting lineup possible for the various opponents you will encounter. Having a bit of variety is important.
Still, Monster Kingdom does not stray too far from the Japanese RPG format, and that makes for a game that, while enjoyable, also has a familiar feel to it.
Review Scoring Details for Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner
The game launches you straight into the action, but slows way down when you enter a town. You can bumble your way through, but – and this is especially early on – the game seems a bit too sandbox in design without a clear indication of the direction you need to go.
The monster details are very good, as is the majority of the artwork.
What is here is decent.
Put together a solid support cast and the game will be much easier to play.
Some very typical Japanese RPG elements, injected with the elements of collecting and leveling monster helpers.
A quality RPG for the PSP is delivered by Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner. The game has some very familiar aspects, but generally is engaging and entertaining.