Maybe you've played enough Pokémonnote and think it's about time somebody made the next one. Maybe Shin Megami Tensei captured your imagination and you want to write your own story about brave protagonists facing down impossible odds with the aid of supernatural beings. Maybe the idea of collectabeasts tickles your fancy, but what you really wanna do is tear 'em all down to show people what they're really made of. Now you wanna write a Mon series, and this guide's here to help you do that.
Let's have a little history lesson. While heroes have made use of monsters as assistants throughout storytelling history, the Mons series as we know it today really began with the original Megaten game. The Ur-Example series is likely The Bard's Tale, where you could enlist monsters to join your party if you left a few slots open. The Trope Maker is Shin Megami Tensei for the NES, where you could enlist monsters (read as demons) you face down in battle to join your side. The Trope Codifier, through and through, is Pokémon Red and Green, originally released on the Game Boy in 1996.
Mons series are very toyetic and lend themselves toward trading cards, action figures, and most of all video games. Seeing as how the most successful Mons series are video-game-based or else heavily video-game-friendly, we'll be referring to your Mons series as a game for the rest of this guide. If you're starting with a story or comic first, just imagine we're discussing your inevitable video game adaptation which will sell a million copies and make you a household name, okay?
Mons games have a surprisingly diverse number of subtropes. When you peel away everything that's optional, here's what you have left:
- Mon: No duh? You're gonna need some monsters (or aliens, or robots, or small gods) to collect, after all.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: Inevitably. Part of the appeal of Mons is gradually accumulating a panoply of monsters who answer to your beck and call. Note that catching 'em all isn't mandatory, and shouldn't be, but being able to is always good.
- Monster Compendium: It isn't essential, but if you want to use Gotta Catch 'Em All, it is a must. Unless you're satified with The Hero having access to every Mons at all time (which can turn the Mons menu into navigation hell near the end of the game), with only short descriptions for each of them.
That's it. That's all. Potentially everything else is up in the air. If you're writing a story instead of working on a game, some video game tropes just plain aren't going to apply to you, and if you're a game designer, you're not contractually obligated to follow in Pokémon's footsteps to the full of your strength. Break out! Be unique!
You need collectible creatures and an impetus to scrounge up a bunch. Everything else is details, and you can get some amazing details out of Mons games. This is for the structure of the game or mechanics of the setting, by the way; for flavor, story, and what kinds of monsters you'll have available for collection, check out the Writers' Lounge.
Broadly speaking, there are three common types of Mon games and two ways to do them. There's the Pokémon approach, where you assemble a team of monsters and train them all at once, often swapping on the fly. There's the Monster Rancher approach, where you train one or a very small number of monsters at a time, and switching focus is more difficult or disadvantageous. And there's the Mega Man Battle Network approach, where collecting new monsters is almost an afterthought, but customizing the monster you've got is paramount. Last, you'll have to decide if your game will be single-player focused or multiplayer focused. More on that in a moment.
Note that in non-game stories, the "many" or "one" approach is entirely up to you based on the story you want to tell, and you don't have to worry about multi/single-player stuff at all.
The Pokémon approach is the safest for games in part because it lends itself very easily to Crowning Moments of Awesome — leading an unlikely team of aberrations to victory is perhaps an inherently wonderful feeling. It also allows you to be more experimental, including a few "weird" beasts that might be intolerable in a one-monster-at-a-time game. The Monster Rancher approach has its benefits, though, such as having a much more intense connection to the monsters you raise, and room for much greater depth in monster stats and growth. The Battle Network style is rare and may be a borderline case of Mondom, but being able to raise a single monster like a Western RPG character has a certain untapped potential.
As for single- or multiplayer, this is a harder question than it looks. At first shy it seems that multiplayer would be the obvious choice. Then you must realize that you will have to test every monster you come up with twice as much, once for balance in the game itself, and once for against human players whose tactics are far, far different than an AI's. Just look at Pokémon Diamond and Pearl — Stealth Rock is situationally-useful in the main game and game-defining in multiplayer. Wanna bet that's due to insufficient testing? Likewise, a multiplayer component demands a wider variety of moves and abilities in order to make tactical decisions more involved, difficult, and thus interesting. If this is your first go on the game-design ride, you might wanna play it safe.
From there you need to decide about how many monsters you'll want in your game, if your game will be bisected or not, and features like trading or sharing. You can have a Mons game without trading, you just have to think of other ways to dole out beasts in interesting rarities.
Incidentally, there's no rule that says all Mons games are roleplaying games. If you want, you could make a Mons action game, tactical RPG, even First or Third-Person Shooter. Anyone try a Mons Metroidvania yet?
Here are some tropes you'll have to choose between.
- Boss Battle: Even if they're not bosses per se, an elite trainer or high-level threat that tests your entire team is always a great chance to test your players and really give 'em a chance to shine. If you want gym-leader-alikes, you'll need boss battles of some kind. In Monster Rancher, though, pretty much every fight is a boss fight, and they just get progressively harder as you go along. Either way works, just make sure the player gets catharsis. In a Mons game, beating a boss challenge is definitive proof the player's collection is getting stronger, and a proper boss fight results in a euphoric "we did it!" rush like no other.
- Character Level: A handy measurement of power, and common to nearly all Mons games. While there are exceptions, such as Monster Rancher, even they have stats which are rated by level for a quick comparison of how good a beast is in a specific stat. That, and watching numbers get higher is a known fascination among gamers. Probably a good idea.
- Note that you could excise character levels or stat growth entirely, in which case your game will resemble Magic: The Gathering or other collectible card games. It might be really cool to see a game where Com Mons are as important as Olympus Mons for the sake of victory — you need the former to bide time to send out or protect the latter, and Com Mons may even be more useful than Olympus Mons in some situations. Consider this, game designers of the future!
- Com Mons: If collection is especially heavy in your game, you'll need Com Mons to pad out the selection and make more desirable or powerful beasts harder to catch. That said, Com Mons don't have to be complete junk. Further, in games like Monster Rancher where getting new monsters is difficult and switching out unlikely, it would do you well to nix the idea of Com Mons entirely and make every beast at least a little useful.
- Duels Decide Everything: In fact, they don't have to! Admittedly, to paraphrase John Hodgman, the first thing you'll want to do if you get a domestic monster is to find another one and make them fight, but much like how Western RPGs like to remind us that non-violent or differently-violent solutions to problem are possible, you can show the world how mons can solve conflicts peacefully. Hopefully this will be in a less-boring manner than most Pokémon not-battles.
- Elemental Powers: Another damn-near universal trope, and it's hard to argue against. They're relatively simple to add and can make for a great deal of tactical importance. That said, Elemental Powers are not necessarily...
- Elemental RockPaperScissors: While an important aspect to games like Pokémon and Shin Megami Tensei, they are not necessarily universal. In part this is because element can make things interestingly complex, or they may make things ridiculously easy, or they may make things ridiculously complicated. Funny enough, Pokémon shows all three. In the main game, elemental alliance is pretty much all you need to exploit to get the upper hand; sans heavily-unbalanced moves, elements have their own interplay and usability; and with heavily-unbalanced moves and elements with tons of weaknesses, dozens of Pokémon wash out simply because of their typing even if they're otherwise appealing stat-wise. The downfalls can be avoided by making every element equal, but doing so outside of exact symmetry is... difficult.
- Experience Points: Generally the reason random encounters are tolerated even after you've caught everything in the area. If you have character levels, you're gonna need a way to increase 'em, and since "everybody goes up one level at this milestone" is a little... anticlimactic... alternatives are gonna have to be very clever.
- Improbable Power Discrepancy: In most collectabeast games, this is in place so you don't have to spend hours and hours leveling up that new monster you got just so it'll be ready to stare down the next gym leader analogue. If your game is going to be less linear than Pokémon, you could be experimental and have the "towns" all have roughly similarly-low-leveled beasts in unique varieties, thus allowing you to collect a diverse bunch of beasts before assaulting better-entrenched and more dangerous areas where there's less civilization to back you up.
- Magikarp Power: Always fun to have one or two of these guys. Might wanna make 'em a little less Magikarp-y in a Monster-Rancher-style game, but hey, even Monster Rancher had its Magikarps.
- Olympus Mons: Much like how you don't strictly need Com Mons, you don't strictly need Olympus Mons in your bestiary. There's a definite advantage to it, though, since it means there's a greater variety of power levels and levels of utility, making your monster list more interesting. On the other end, collectabeasts which are vastly superior to everyone else will be disproportionately represented in the endgame or multiplayer regardless of what you do to make 'em difficult to catch, so making Olympus Mons a little less uber or Com Mons a little less terrible has a certain appeal.
- Serious Business: While this is a flavor question, it's universal enough that it's worth getting out of the way as optional. Are mons the heart of the setting, or are they just a means to an end? Will your mon-user protagonist fight non-mons or non-mon-users in addition to the inevitable opposition? Will having non-mon gameplay elements be cool, or will they violate The Law of Conservation of Detail? It's up to you to decide.
- To Be a Master: An obvious starting point, but much like "someone wakes you up" in Eastern RPGs, "you all meet at a tavern" in Tabletop RPGs, and "your new co-workers are barely-legal bunny girls in heat" in hentai games, it's so very, very overdone it's basically a steak briquette at this point. That said, it is a useful starting point, and common enough that much like "I'm gonna fight crime" for superheroes, nobody bats an eye at collectabeast games having a protagonist who wants to be the very best, like no one ever was.
Monster collection games have a few obvious ... falterings, let's call 'em. Here's a few to watch out for:
- Level Grinding: It's everywhere, pretty much a bunch of people hate it, pretty much a bunch of other people can't go ten minutes without filling a bar of some kind or the shakes start to come back. It's a real balancing act. While a little grinding is useful to test out your Mons and give rare Mons a better chance to show up, too much will utterly kill the flow of the game and threaten the interest of your players. There are ways around it, of course. One key is to make experience point drops significant. Look into Leaked Experience, too.
- One Game for the Price of Two: This is one you should probably be avoiding. Robopon had only one edition released outside of Japan, leaving the game incomplete. Further, wireless trading and other internet-enabled trading has basically erased version differences beyond what you can catch on your own; even Pokemon gets away with it mostly out of historical inertia at this point. Stay away from this one and you'll look like a more sound investment.
- Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage: It is not unheard of, and in fact very common, for a game of mons to have ultra exclusive mons available only by nigh impossible challenges or by special events. Whether or not you should add a mon or so (or several) to the list of exclusives only released through promotional means depends on many factors, and how well received doing this depends on the mon in question. For instance, it can be enticing to get a mon who is an absolute powerhouse in the games as a bonus and attract more people to the event in question. If the event is particularly exclusive, it can help increase its rarity and ease the players on its powerhouse potential shaking the meta game a little, adding one of many secrets only given to the most devoid of your players. On the other hand, if the mon is pretty yet rather usless if not overshadowed by pre-existing (not to mention more common) mons, it becomes a waste of time to go after and will more than likely be the next vendor trash mon whom players would sooner buy a Gameshark to nab in their game if they only need it as far as their mon-log is concerned than go to the event to get it. Then there is the event itself where you have to make it interesting to make it worth it for people to pay attention to, and give plenty of time and preparation both for your players and yourself to prepare. Don't fall for the disaster of releasing a wifi-connection event spur the moment, where few people were aware it was happening, fewer had bothered to connect with you and everyone else who heard it ran out of time to set themselves up for it. The promotion can be as big or as small as you want it, but organization and a fitting theme is a must. Maybe you'd like a small wifi-session online to encourage the connectivity and trading aspects of your games. Or maybe, for the commercial-minded, you'd like to host a mini-convention of sorts for your players to physically gather to (which by the way it wouldn't hurt if there were other freebies, too). More so, keep in mind that if you plan to release mons exclusively through promotional means, ensure that these events reach out to as much of the globe as possible. Your players will thank you for it.
More to come...
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: In some (well, most) of the mon-oriented games in the market today, a key aspect of the game is to create as many mons of different themes, styles, and variations, the majority of which should be appealing and varied enough to have at least one of your mons favored by any player that picks up your game or watches your series. Similarly it is a given that, with so many varieties of mons in the game, the player has a flexible selection of what mons they can get, be it from the beginning or over time, and should they want to follow the Gotta Catch 'Em All mentality, it is a good sign that the mons you design are off on the right track. However, while it is reccomended that you should add rewards or possibly even a sub-quest (if not the quest) to catch 'em all, and it is mandatory to have most if not all of your mons be appealing enough to entice players to do just that, it is not necessarily law for you to have to force your players to catch them all. Some genres make it a point that, while you certainly get a generous selection of potential partner mons to care for and strengthen, you don't necessarily have to form a team of them to win, nor really force yourself to get all of them to reach the end of the game.
- Digimon, especially in its earlier seasons, for instance, star a handful of kid tamers who each only get one mon partner in a world populated by over hundreds of variant species. It does not hinder them should these digidestined stick solely to their one digimon partner, and by sticking with that one mon, they grow stronger with them and keep in mind their strengths and weaknesses to better strategize. However, how closely you should follow or avert this trope depends on how effective your mons are in combat both singularly or in numbers. Going back to the Digimon example, a digimon as seen in the series can be quite effective on its own depending on how well it is trained and bonded with its tamer.
- Pokemon, however, brings up ideas of how training only one Pokemon out of a possible team of 6 is very risky tactic and puts you in a disadvantage more often than not, and introduces hurdles to enforce the point that teamwork is better than a one-mon army. For instance, you can have the water type mon Blastoise to overpower a team by brute force, but it risks being taken down by grass-and-poison-type mon Venusaur due to a type disadvantage. You could have Blastoise raised to a high enough level that it will only fear those close to or exactly to its level (moreso if they are the aforementioned grass-type), but it is wiser to invest time in recruiting other mons, such as fire-and-flying-type Charizard, to tower over the mons who pose a threat against your Blastoise.
- Even outside of the elemental balance, there could also be other factors that encourage you to diversify on your mon collection, such as in Monster Rancher where the cute monster girl succubi, Pixie, are very intelligent and excel in their abilities and move-point-drainage of the opponents, but are scared silly at having their frail bodies get hit, parallelling the bulky Golems who high defenses and power allow them to pound opposing mons into next Tuesday with narly a scratch, but are about as fast as a snail stuck on frozen molasses and thus are outsped by the majority of other mons.
- The Kid with the Leash: What happens if the mons don't want to fight? Or they can't be controlled? Or if the mons want to cause havoc and the leash's ability to hold them is limited?
- Power of Friendship/Love/Trust: The overwhelming popularity of Digimon and Pokémon have made the stereotypical mons series very kid-friendly, but series like Narutaru and Shin Megami Tensei, the latter of which is the Trope Maker, have proven that it's not impossible for these series to take a turn for the worse later on, or to have a darker depiction of what would happen when people are given full control of monsters with immense destructive power.
Suggested Themes and Aesops
- The majority of the story's focus will be The Player And Their Mon and the training of said mon(s) to reach their fullest potential and be the strongest (either strong enough to overcome whatever goal their is or the strongest ever). Depending on the mechanics you have behind it that define how much of the mon's stats you monitor and grow or what you do with them, you can potentially expand on the relationship you, the player, have with the mon, your partner. The most common theme is friendship, especially if your character and/or mon are the good-hearted type, and depending how much you integrate your mon's affection to your tamers in-game or story-wise, you can work with a sub-plot that shows that a strong bond with your mon enables you to tap into your greatest strengths. For the reverse, you can also deconstruct the idea of why a mon would mindlessly follow a trainer who horribly pounded the crap out of them on-sight when they first met by showing the trainer strengthen their mon through grinding while ignoring the underlying problems with this training regimen, ending with either the mon giving in to this treatment to mindlessly stick with this trainer (for better or worse) or get fed up enough and turn on them.
- If the mons are treated more like chess pieces in a large game, such as the case with Yu-Gi-Oh!, you can also show this aesop in the form of a character's strategy clashing with another's instead of just their treatment of them, such as one character being so used to owning and using only immediately powerful monsters and/or monsters of a particular theme, only to clash with another character who uses "puny" monsters who didn't neglect the fact said puny monsters have game-shaking abilities that wipe the floor with the power-player, or otherwise has easily-obtainable abilities that nulls the single-minded grouping, disarming them. If not making a complete U-turn of their strategy, it could still at least ease or somewhat alter a character's way of play to show they're learning.
- Nearly every mon series to exist had played around with motifs, sometimes following every motif of the book for different groups of mons. Nearly any motif can be used on a mon, be it for the story behind a particular group of mons, or for the mon designs themselves. Some can cover every mon in the book, such as Fighting Foodons which is relatively mon-like where the mons are all some form of food, or Dragon Drive where every mon are some form of dragon. Pokémon and Digimon are examples of covering a huge variety of different motifs, such as Digimon's devas being based on the chinese zodiac and their bosses, the sovereigns, being based on the four directional gods, or Pokemon's legendaries being based around grouped themes like the creation trio Dialga, Palkia and Giratina (who are embodiments of space, time and antimatter respectively), the elemental bird trio Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres (who not only represent ice, electric and fire, but are all flying types and follow a spanish-number-in-name theme), or the lake trio Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf (who not only are found in Sinnoh's lakes, but represent knowledge, emotion and willpower respectively and their ability to take such away if mishandled).
- And then there are the tamers themselves, who also can have just as many different motifs to their designs as the mons could. A key rule differing a tamer's motif to a mon's is that, more often than not, a tamer's motif will usually determine the kind of mons (or if just one mon, their evolutions) they'll have on their team. Some of them are a bit more subtle in their connections with their mons, as with a lot of characters like Digimon's digidestined, Pokemon's trainers, Yugioh's duelists, etc, but a lot of them can make it incredibly obvious what kind of mons they're inclinded to train, which if handled with care, can cook up a nice idea for a unique appearance for them (such as a character who uses fire-type mons having a heavy fire motif in his fashion sense and possibly his appearance). A motif tied to their mons don't necessarily have to limit to just appearance, but can also link them based on personality or even the mon's reputation (such as if a mon's species was notable for being hot-headed for no apparent reason, or was so highly praised that they are common insignias for noble blood). Then there are some who collect mons with less important things in common (such as collecting all mons with beady eyes or who have yellow and black stripes).
- Depending on the nature of your mon series setting, the plot could be anything, and being a flexible genre, the mon mold can be applied to a good number of situations. The key ideas on what can inspire a plot that works for your series come from
- ) the location - Does the series primarily take place in a tamer's world or the mon's world? Are they similar or vastly different? Do they constantly travel between worlds, or does the series focus primarily on one or the other? Is one or both of these worlds set in a world like ours or an entirely different world?
- ) the mons and their relationship to the tamers - Are the tamers used to the mons, or were they a recent discovery? Was it a fad that your trainer jumped in the bandwagon on or something that, by a stroke of fate, caused your trainer to stumble in on it? Are the mons like pets or like partners to the trainer? Are the mons friendly to the trainer, hostile and dangerous to them, or shades of both?
- ) the tamer's goals with the mons - What are the mons primarily used for? Are they used to make the tamer powerful, or are the mons using the tamer to make themselves powerful? What does the player hope to achieve in training one or several walking killing machines?)
Among other notes. Some common plots in other existing mon titles include:
- One or both of the worlds are threatened by some dark force. The trainer is either the chosen one or one of several chosen ones who discover the mons and team up with them to save the world(s).
- The mons are part of some popular game or the latest fad and the trainer is either a newbie who lived under a rock of the whole thing or a notable veteran. Perhaps the trainer is destined for great things that unravel as the story goes on, or perhaps they uncover an underlying, sinister plan underneath the fanfare. Perhaps the mons are used by corrupt trainers for their evil schemes. Or perhaps there was something dark behind the origins of the mons themselves.
- The mons are a powerful force otherwise unknown to the world, and when an equally powerful force causes mayhem to the human world, the trainer-to-be stumbles on the mons to fight back. It could be that this force was a dark entity, or it could also be that this force were other trainers who are otherwise no different from the main character, who had found their own mons but misused them by forgetting the simple fact massively-godly-powered-beasts trained to kill are not toys.
- Either the main character or someone the main character meets happens to be someone who holds great importance over the mons and/or origins of them and may or may not necessarily realize it for various reasons, and the usage of these mons will unlock their true purpose somehow.
Set Designer / Location Scout
- The location the setting should be can be incredibly flexible, but it all depends on the theme of your mons. Take a look at the kind of mons you have in mind for this kind of project. What kind of environment would they best fit in? It's one thing to plot the specific home nest of this mon, but it's also another thing to plot out what the rest of the world is like beyond just this small nest. The mon's relationship to their trainer in general should also be taken into account as far as what sets apart a trainer's life and a mon's life, especially when considering whether or not they live in the same or different worlds.
- A series like Digimon, Dragon Drive or Mega Man Battle Network is set in a normal earth-like world for the human trainers and a digital world where the mons live. In the former two cases, the physical representation of the digital worlds alter themselves into general elemental hubs that fit with the mons who live there (so you'll see things such as an urban city, volcanoes, a vast ocean, a jungle, etc, that may be programmed inside it), while in the latter case, the net navis live inside a world that appears very artificial and bizarre, constantly reminding you that you are inside the internet.
- A series like Pokémon or Monster Rancher are set in a world where the mons live in unison with the trainers, and the humans not only have grown accustomed to the sight of these mons running around outside their backyards (or if they themselves are a trainer, inside their house) but utlize a mon's abilities to assist in the daily duties of life.
- In cases like Shin Megami Tensei 's spin-off Devil Survivor it can also be a case where the trainers live in a setting much like our own reality, but the mons invaded or appeared into the setting in a world not accustomed to seeing monsters roaming around, and so the player takes on the role of learning of and controlling these beasts.
- And in yet another case where the usage of these mons is like a game, as with Yu-Gi-Oh!, it could be that the mons don't have a home world shown to us (if it even exists) unless the player specifically calls forth that environment or morphs their immediate surroundings to its alikeness (in Yugioh's case, the various field cards temporarily transform the immediate surroundings of the duelists to match the card's environment, among other cards, for as long as the duel lasts).
- Depending on if a mon comes first or their location does, their design should reflect the same vibes as their home world, even if only subtly. If your mons are a collection of robots, for instance, they may reflect a theme that makes it clear they are some form of artificial life, and may be more understandable that they live in equally artificial locations than not. If mons are portrayed like embodiments of the elements, however, they may live in more natural areas where there are hardly any signs of artificial "eyesores" that exist, and usually have hubs themed after each element that exists among the mons (example, a dark shadow and a dark part of the world, or a fire imp and a volcano). If your mons include both of these types and more, their world may be just as varied as they are. In the end you decide what's right for your mons, and if you decide a mon expy of Optimus Prime thrives in a homeworld set in a forest where there isn't another robot or computer in sight, then go for it.
- In some cases, a mon may be designed to have an appearance very similar to a human if not exactly so. In other cases, all mons could be very human-like in general (as opposed to just some of them). It is important that you make a human-like mon's appearance very unique to that of a true human to set off the difference between the two (not including if you intend for a human-like mon to masquerade themselves as a human). Otherwise, the line drawn between people who are mons who look human and people who ARE human can get a little blurred.
- The humans who command the mons also can have various preferences in fashion sense, but unless there is a particular reason why the character is so vastly different from others, it is usually recommended that they at least stay consistent with each other. For example, it can be incredibly jarring for one character to be a robot when the rest of the cast resemble the kind of people you see around your neighborhood, and especially weird if said robot was the only robot in a setting where robots otherwise don't exist. It is easier accepted as that character being particularly
weirdunique if there was a reason for this, such as said robot actually being a cosplayer of a robot mon, the robot came from the future (or another dimension entirely), it was the first to be released out of others in development, etc.
- Mons have awesome powers the majority of the time. The more powerful the mon is, the more awesome their abilities usually are. Or so the unspoken rule goes among many mon-oritented titles. A mon typically has very flashy abilities sometimes drawn from their power, and other times caused by amplified parts of their body (such as their claws that release power beams reflecting their slash markings they leave). The choices of what kind of abilities the mon should have and in what manner they should use it vary between mons, but it always tends to reflect some aspect of them. For example, a mecha mon may primarily use abilities shot out of its cannons or guns, while a mermaid mon may manipulate or call on water to attack. This doesn't necessarily stop you from breaking this trend, however, such as with Monster Rancher's Doodle, an animated doodle of a stick figure man, who is so random that it rides around on a rooster-cycle, shoots its head at people, and summons a ginormous woman's foot wearing a stiletto to step on people.
- You also have to consider whether the abilities available to the mons are universal or unique to the mon. An ability that is universal means that the ability can be learned or otherwise available to more than one mon or family line of mon. A unique move is a move only available either to that particular mon or that mon's family or evolutionary lines. Although a series can include moves of both flavors, one of these groups tend to have priority over the other.
- Pokemon is an example of universal moves having priority over unique moves. Pokemon can learn moves such as Toxic, Return or Frustration, which are moves that are learned by nearly any Pokemon, and although they have moves that more limited groups can learn, such as Thundershock or Water Gun, these groups are still quite wide and apply to more than one family of mons (in this case, Thundershock is a common move among electric types, while Water Gun is a common move among water types). There are more powerful moves that can be learned by an even smaller pool of mons, but still remain that there is usually more than one family of mons who can learn it one way or another. Out of the majority of the moves in the Pokeverse, only a small handful are unique to specific mons (some of the uniqueness being changed over the generations), such as Milk Drink being available only to the cow mon Miltank, Sacred Sword being unique only to the musketeer-motif quartet of Cobalon, Terrakion, Virizion and Keldeo, or Chatter being available only to the parrot mon Chatot.
- Digimon is an example of unique moves having priority over universal moves as the majority of the digimon have signature abilities as their main attacks and very few instances a mon shares an attack that can be used by another mon. In fact they are so exclusive that a digimon adopts an entirely new set of signature moves when it digivolves while losing (or revamping) its old ones, and some mons that are inherently the same may adopt different variations of the same move if not new moves entirely. For instance, Patamon, a cute rodent-like critter with wings for ears, has the signature attack Boom Bubble, which is only unique to itself, so unique that when it digivolves to the angelic man Angemon, he loses the Boom Bubble attack and gains the new signature attack Hand Of Fate. An example of a move upgraded from one form to another includes Agumon, an orange dino digimon who learns Pepper Breath, an ember-shooting attack, that grows bigger and powerful when Agumon digivolves to the even bigger dino Greymon in the form of Nova Blast. There are only a few number of moves shared among different digimon, most of them being shared because the species are expies of each other (Agumon has a dark expy known as BlackAgumon, both of who learn Pepper Breath), but there are some exceptions even among expies (The Agumon from Digimon Adventure who is Tai's partner, for instance, learns a different set of signature moves from the Agumon of Digimon World Data Squad, who is Marcus's partner (although in the anime he learns more or less the same moves plus extras Tai's Agumon doesn't use)). One example of the rare shared moves includes Bubble Blow, a move universal to most In-Training level digimon.
- Monster Rancher is another example that plays the exclusive move factor much more straight, as every species learn a list of signature moves unique only to their species or the subspecies which their own species is dominant of. For example, a Tiger who is a hybrid of a Naga learns the same moves as a pure Tiger because they're both primarily Tigers. The exception include rare cases or systems involving a monster fighting alongside or in place of another monster as aid, allowing the primary fighter to temporarily use an attack that was exclusive to their aid.
- Mega Man Battle Network is a rare instance of balancing the number of exclusive moves with the number of shared ones, not by the true amount, but by the way the attacks work with the navis. Every navi has relatively equal potentials and skills (stats notwithstanding), but also have their own signature attacks. However, these signature attacks can be taken and copied in the form of chips, which can then be installed into another navi, teaching them that move.
- Besides the attacks themselves, there is also the matter of whether your mons should call their attacks, or simply attack. There are many reasons for and against this that many of the titles may either ignore or call attention to for lulz. On the pro side, you can think of creative names for the abilities your mons can use that better define the attacks, whereas it would've caused abilities like that awesome Calypso's Wrath attack be known by a general description like "that one watery move that causes the sea to crash onto you", or cause named attacks to be only known by the few, proud, dedicated of fans you have otherwise if they weren't named. It can also help identify your mons better through their signature attacks if their names and appearances weren't memoriable enough. On the con side, however, if it takes particularly long for the character to charge up and launch the attack simply because the obligatory move-intro scene of awesome or the reciting of the attack name made it so, it can be annoying ( or hammy) otherwise, and in some cases the timing involved from naming an attack to actually doing it can bring up questions such as "If my opponent is announcing they will stab me with a sword as The Poke of Doom, why don't I use that to my advantage and just shoot him from a distance?" or "Why don't I attack them while they're showing off?"
- Speaking of which, Power Trio of Mon Genres (game version) are:
- Monster Rancher is the modest contender of all three, it was largely set on a world of Medieval European Fantasy and basically a Slice of Life example of the Mon genre. The anime was closer to Digimon, with heavy focus on character development for humans and monsters, Anyone Can Die being in effect, and a save the world plot.
- Pokémon, king of Gotta Catch 'Em All, Loads and Loads of Characters, Cash Cow Franchise, and very popular. The setting are Vague and literally everything had to be connected with the Pokémon themselves. Tournament Arc + To Be a Master = Profits. Largely Trope Codifier.
- Digimon is THE Hot-Blooded contender, with more modern, Magic from Technology setting, with Saving the World ALWAYS became the focus. However it didn't start as a normal videogame, instead a Spear Counterpart to Tamagotchi
- Shin Megami Tensei and the subsequent series (including the Persona series) is an Unbuilt Trope to the Mon genre: instead of showing us a Sugar Bowl country with Ridiculously Cute Critters, it was a Darker and Edgier setting filled with Ugly Cute monsters. Also, it was a Trope Maker.
- Narutaru, when you need horrifying Deconstructive Mon series, you know the man.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki, is Toku series with some aspect of Mon. The Henshin Heroes become stronger after get their contact monsters, can use their body parts as equipments, and summon them. It's deconstruction, the monsters have no loyalty to their masters and will eat them should the contact card is destroyed. The same thing would occur if the monsters aren't well-fed, meaning you must continue fighting to feed your mons, even if you want to quit - and more mons you have, it's just harder to feed them all. Oh, there's another way to get around this, the mons also eat humans. At least one Rider is more than happy to lets his mon eat random people, it help cover his murder anyway.