Ascii's Master of Monsters for the Sony PlayStation falls into the category of strategy RPG, in as far as playing it is like a match of... RPG chess. You control one of six commanders who summon up monster troops to fight the forces of an enemy commander or commanders. Each type of monster has its plusses and minuses. For instance, a unicorn can cover a lot of ground but is generally pretty weak, while a serpent is very powerful but doesn't move all too fast. You can combine creatures in special shrines as well, giving the game a small degree of Monster Rancher flavor. If the melding goes well, you might get something cool like an ass-kicking Golem, but if the match is poor, you'll probably end up with a little puddle of woe that is the Slime. Once everything is set and on the field, it's all turn-based, one-on-one combat, with the different types of terrain and other similar factors weighing in to affect each fight's outcome.
It's a decent enough recipe for a game, but it's got problems in its implementation. Master of Monsters' interface is very clunky, the storyline is cheesy, the music is a dull repetitive loop, and the graphics aren't too much beyond what you'd expect from the original MOM for the Sega Genesis. Altogether, save for the infrequent bit of voice-over, it seems it could've been done for the 16-bit systems. But none of these factors means much to a strategy game if the strategy is advanced enough, right?
That's the rub. Master of Monsters has really basic AI, which is tuned so that your opponents go straight after your commander with little or no consideration as to the taking or retaking of towers - one of the main strategic focuses of the game. As such, each round consists of sending out Rocs, Pegasi, and other fast-moving creatures to claim neutral or enemy towers. Doing this increases the number of monsters you call or summon, and, in the latter case, lessens the number that the enemy is capable of bringing in. From there, it's just a matter of picking off your opponent's dwindling ranks and then your opposition himself. Repeat and serve. Sound simple? Too much so. It only approaches being a challenge when you're facing more than one opponent at the same time.
Still, MOM has its addictive qualities, and its multiplayer mode offers you the option to square off against three other human opponents with the best monster as the pot (multiplayer with a prize, not bad). There are a few nice minor touches too, such as being able to turn off the time-wasting battle animations (bet you would've liked to have done this to the spell displays in over a dozen RPGs) and a button command to show which monsters you haven't used yet. But when it all comes down to it, let's face it, games are expensive, and you'd be better off saving your money for stronger strategy RPGs such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Dragon Force, or Tactics Ogre.