TGS 2001 Fall: Hands-On: Monster Farm Advance

Monster ranching for the busy gamer.

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Tecmo had a playable version of the latest entry in the Monster Rancher series at its TGS booth. Called Monster Farm Advance, the game takes the series onto Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. The game follows the same basic flow of the previous titles but features some modifications to the gameplay due to the cartridge format.

Players will begin the game like they always have: being assigned an assistant who will show you the ropes as you begin your way through the wild world of monster ranching. Your assistant will tag along as you progress through the game and let you know how things are going, as well as provide advice. The biggest change in the game is a two-part tweaking of the graphics engine and the method in which you get monsters. The game offers some impressive sprite-based visuals that are rich in detail. In the case of the monster you raise, MFA manages to actually stay very true to the graphics of the original games and recreates them on the GBA. Granted they aren't polygonal, but by using sprites, the game manages to fake 3D very well. As far as the process of obtaining a monster goes, things have obviously changed. Rather than generate a monster off a CD, MFA allows you to input a word, such as a name, and it generates a monster based on that.

The game plays as well as the other entries into the series. Players will have to make sure they have enough resources to fund the care and feeding of their monster. To drum up some cash you'll have to enter your monster into battle, such as a tournament, in the hopes it will win and be given a prize for such things. The game appears to be shaping up into a portable, and often-addictive alternative. Monster Farm Advance is due this year in Japan.

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