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A Dragon Quest Spin-Off series, where you control a youth who wanders the world, collecting, battling, and breeding monsters and eventually using them to save the world. Dragon Quest Monsters and both versions of Dragon Quest Monsters 2 were released in America and Europe as "Dragon Warrior Monsters".
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To date, the games in the series are:

There are also multiple spin-offs of the Monsters series on mobile phones, such as Dragon Quest Monsters: Wanted! for Android. Unfortunately, Caravan Heart, Joker 3 and all of the rereleases and mobile games (including Joker 2 Professional) are No Export for You. However, Caravan Heart was translated into English through two years of work by dedicated fans; available here.

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Note that the Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road games, which include three arcade games and Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road Victory for the Nintendo Wii, are a Collectible Card Game series that plays quite differently from the Monsters series. The cards had a barcode on the back, you scanned 3 cards in the arcade console to determine your party in the arcade, and you fought various monsters in an arena hosted by Morrie the arena master from Dragon Quest VIII. When you first started the game, it spat out 3 random cards, and you could get more random cards by putting in more money.

There was a seventh game announced starring Erik and Mia from Dragon Quest XI as kids, but it ended stuck in Development Hell for a while...until May 26, 2021, when it was announced as an entirely new game; Dragon Quest Treasures!

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Tropes present in this series include:

  • 100% Completion: There are rewards for this... At least one of which is impossible to get. In Joker, you can (only) get the Prince of Thieves (think Robbin' Hood — Kandar — with a black cowl and a crown) by collecting every single monster. The problem is... It didn't occur to the programmers that that should actually be every single monster except the Prince of Thieves itself, leaving 100% completion a big ol' Catch-22.
  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: Each monster species has their own innate level cap, some of which can be very low, though through breeding the level caps can be raised and eventually every monster can hit the maximum cap of 99. The monster that most exemplifies this is the secret Dimensaur in the second game, who has the maximum possible growth rates in all its stats but has an absolutely pitiful level cap of 9 (which also means if you were one of the lucky people who got one legitimately back in the day and didn't cheat it into your game, it would be impossible to breed it and increase the level cap).
  • Affably Evil: In Joker, we have Dr. Snap, who is seen as a hard-working and great man, not to mention a brilliant scientist and superb monster scout himself. He even helps The Hero in training his monsters.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In Dragon Quest Monsters 2 the citizens of Great Log don’t believe the Cobi or Tara’s warnings that Great Log is sinking and don’t even notice their island is dying until it is almost too late, not even their parents. In the remake they catch on Great Log is in serious trouble sooner and Cobi and Tara’s parents believe them from the start, their dad even helps directly by giving side-quests to help them train.
  • Animated Armor: The Restless Armours (Roguenite in the original two games) and Knight Abberants (Mad Knight in the original two games) monsters.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In the second game, to obtain the Ice key, you need to give away an Army Ant and Mad Gopher to a shopkeeper and your father respectively. As such, obtaining these monsters from the Pirate world are mandatory to beat the game, but they are given the highest possible join rate, to where they'll have a decent chance of joining without even being given any meat. And normally when you obtain a monster, in the main worlds it becomes significantly harder to get them to join you even if you no longer have one of it in possession, with even Com Mons having little chance of joining you without Sirlion or copious amount of Ribs. However Army Ant and Mad Gopher are not given this penalty, in case the player obtained one of them and released or bred them, saving the player much frustration in trying to get another one to progress when Sirloin is effectively unfeasible to obtain at this point.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The combo moves in Dragon Quest Monsters 2. When they actually work, they're awesomely powerful and have some really impressive animations compared to the normal attack skills in the game. But even assuming you knew of their existence and the working combos, while ensuring your monsters had compatible personalities so you can use them, it's a low random chance of them actually working each turn. Thus unless you're lucky, trying to intentionally use them will mostly result in you spamming moves less effective than what you would do in conventional strategy, so unless the skills required for a combo are actually optimal at the time, you're better off using moves that net you more consistent damage than gambling on proccing a combo move.
  • Battle Aura: Psyching up in Joker and Joker 2.
  • Big Bad: Interestingly averted for the first two games, who don't have any sort of overarching villain. The closest there is are the kings of the rival kingdoms in Terry's Wonderland. The remake of DQM2 adds in a new villain for the post-game, the dark dimensional force known as Gloom.
    • Played straight in Joker games, which have Dr. Snap in the first one, Rigor Mortex in the second one, Dr. Snap (Again) in the third game.
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you finish Joker 2 in an English mode, US DSi... the credits change to English. (Just in case the big US and EU flags during the part where the Japanese commercials talk about a worldwide tournament weren't a big enough clue.)
  • Bonus Boss:
    • In DQM2, after clearing the Pirate world, a King Squid appears in the world and will join you if you defeat it. However, it appears less than halfway through the main game, while being as strong as the demon lord bosses at the end of the main game. So while you gain access to it early, you won't reasonably be able to take it on until near the end of the main game or after some extreme grinding that would make you strong enough to easily handle anything in the main game outside of the final boss.
    • Also in the second game, there's Milayou from the first game, whose teams you can fight after beating the Traveler world, though despite being by far the most difficult challenge in the game outside of some top-end magic key world bosses, you get no reward for beating her other than some experience.
  • Cap:
    • The first two games were pretty much cap-free, with 999 being the only stat limit, and all monsters had it. This changed in Joker — individual monsters now have distinct caps. Oddly enough, the monster with the highest total caps? The humble Lump Wizardnote . (The second-highest was the See Butterfly.)
    • Terry's Wonderland had odd caps for agility (Maxed at 511), and Intel (255), but every other stat could be maxed to 999.
  • Break the Haughty: After being losing to Terry in the Starry Night Tournament, the King of Great Log and the King of Dead tree are humbled and become a lot more polite to him.
  • Cassandra Truth: In Monsters II, nobody believes you about the island sinking, especially not powerful Monster Masters. Not even your character's parents believe you.
  • Catchphrase: The King in the first game. "Busy, busy, busy..."
    • Also in the first game is the left clown's "Oh... King...", translated as "That's a bit much!" in remake.
  • Chest Monster: The mimic line — Cannibox, Mimic, and Pandora's Box. They make good monsters if you capture one — good spells, very good attack, the only drawback being low MP... which is fixable. There are pot and statue versions, as well.
  • Com Mons: Slime and the other Mascot Mooks et al. In Joker 2, they gave this a nod in the "X/XY" system. Every family (other than ???) has an "X" and "XY" monster, based on the common monster of that family — Slime, Dragon, Conklave, etc, and breeding them with themselves results in a higher tier version of the same critter. This can be repeated again for a still higher tier version of the same Com Mons you ran into at the start of the game.
    • To elaborate: You can get a Rank C Slime X by breeding 2 level 20 Rank F Slimes, and you can get a Rank S Slime XY by breeding 2 level 50 Slime Xs. These variants look exactly the same as the original variants, but have much higher stat growth and caps, and in the case of the XY versions they have a bonus "Ultimate" skilltree thrown in, as well.
    • They try and fail to make the standard Slime a lethal joke monster by giving them Mega magic, but the effort to breed one actually able to get that move is far less effective than just getting a Rainhawk that would be a superior monster. However they succeed in Joker by making it part of the Disc 1 nuke.....
    • They also succeed in the first two games in a different way, Slimes are really common and easy to recruit. Another common monsters are those of Insect family and Beast family. After you can breed, breed Slime with an insect for a Snaily, who has high attack, massive defense and agility, and decent all around stats, and grows at ridiculous rate. With a Beast, you get the Spotslime who has good growth rate, and decent stats. And if you reach +5 with the slime, you can get a Spotking, who has awesome stats and still retain its growth rate, and has tons of inherited skills(especialy if you add a Healer in the middle of the process).
  • Continuing is Painful: Being wiped out in the first game results in the loss of all your items.
  • Creature-Breeding Mechanic: The first several games in the series have a breeding system in which offspring may not have a similar appearance to their parents, but they will inherit their parents' powers. Joker and its sequel changed this to a fusion system.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The King of Great Tree is bit of a scatterbrained bumbler, but there are hints he was a great monster master in his youth. He proves he still has it with his fairly potent team of metal monsters in the tournament. He can also be surprisingly wise and he comes up with a surprisingly brilliant solution to the fight over the spirit stone.
  • Crutch Character: In the first two games, Birds and Bugs generally levelled up faster than monsters of other families, which got them stronger quicker, but had weaker stat growths and lower level caps that left them weaker than other families in the end. In practice though this really only affected Bugs, as there were still plenty of high-end and even middle-end Birds that had decent-to-great level caps and stat growth while still levelling up faster than equivalent-strength monsters of other families, which made Birds one of the best families to use.
  • Cutting the Knot: How the King of Great Tree solves the problem with the spirit stone, rather literally too. Instead of keeping it for humans or giving it to the monsters he breaks it in half and gives each broken half to a side, ensuring life for all and that they will always need one another.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Happens sometimes in the pre-Joker games. Chances are improved by feeding the enemies meat in battle.
    • In Joker, a variation is used through scouting. You don't actually HURT the the target monster when scouting, but you "show them your strength". Depending on how strong your mons are, the target may join you in admiration or refuse to be dragged around with weaklings.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: A rather interesting case of this being meta: The early online tournaments for Joker were, of course, teaming with cheaters. Naturally, this means that the tournament scene would be littered with nothing but Gold/Darkonium/King Metal Slimes, (thus making the whole ordeal incredibly painful) right? Nope, you run into teams with three different forms of Incarnus, which absolutely sucks compared to the metal slimes. In the original Japanese release, Incarnus was marked as "guest", meaning he wasn't usable in the online tournament at all — and the Japanese tournament servers had better sanity checking code to prevent things like using 3 versions of him at once.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • In the original game you can get a ??? and a Goldslime before completing the C division in the Tournament. The game gives you JUST the right high power monsters via auto-joining bosses in the first few Traveler's gates to accomplish the feat, making the entire rest of the game a breeze
    • Players with knowledge of how Slimes turn into King Slimesnote  allows for an early game, powerful monster in the first 2 games — any Slime that is +5 or above, bred with another Slime, results in a King Slime with vastly improved stats and spells. In Joker, this was turned into a "Quad Fusion" — any monster with 4 grandparents who are Slimes is a King Slime.
      • King Slimes in Joker are Rank C, which means you can jump from Rank F to Rank C in one go, skipping the first 3rd of the game. In addition, King Slime is one of only 2 monsters (the other being a postgame exclusive dragon deity) that receives "Courage" (mistranslated as "Cleric" in the US version) as a skillset. Courage is based off the skillset of the protagonists from the main Dragon Quest games, which includes their iconic attack Gigaslash and several high end spells they commonly learn such as Kazap and Multiheal. This means that not only is making the King Slime a huge stat increase for the point in the game; it gains access to some of the franchise's strongest abilities. Say goodbye to most of the challenge until endgame and postgame content!
    • The "4 Slimes = 1 King Slime" combination was removed in Joker 2 due to the specific fusion being tied to the Slime XY line, but the King Slime is still an extremely easy monster to make early considering how strong it is. Instead of using 4 normal slimes, you fused a Rank F slime family with any other Rank F monster to get a "Behemoth Slime". Fusing two of these Behemoth Slimes together will result in the King Slime. This is arguably better because having different monsters mixed in means the resulting King Slime can have other skills to inherit.
      • Additionally, a pair of similar combines was added — Great Sabercat (breed 4 Great Sabercat Cubs) and Great Dracky (4 Drackys), both monsters available in the first map. These two monsters have downsides (traits that make them sub-par) but can be bred away to make other rank C monsters that are equally powerful, and still allow you to skip ranks F, E, and D.
    • In both Joker and Joker 2, you can simply breed monsters to get a similar monster of the same rank. In Joker 2, doing this enough times in the same rank will move you up a rank, no matter what — for example, breeding a Beast monster and continually choosing the Beast monster child will have you go through 1-3 "generic" beast monsters for that rank. Upon reaching the final generic monster of said rank, breeding again with almost anything will cause the resultant child to be a generic monster of the next highest rank, all the way up to Rank A (there are no generic rank S monsters). With enough time and effort, it's entirely possible to have an entire team of Rank A monsters the second you can breed monsters, trivializing the rest of the game.
    • Manipulating Slimes combination in the first two games can lead to this. Taken Up to Eleven in the second game, after you can breed, you also get Sailor Ring which increases defense growth. You started with a Slime and its likely that you caught some Insects. Snaily +1 equipped with Sailor Ring while levelling its first few levels can Solo the Aquatic wild monsters of the second world after a bit of grinding(while having awesome spells from Slimes to boot).
    • If you want to take it further, the second world supplied you with monsters with awesome skillsets, namely Healers, and the optional mandatory recruitted Octo. The third world(which the same Snaily can solo relatively well with a +3 and a Sailor Ring enchanced growth) has Grizzly who has some useful skills, and there's an Armorpede breeding opportunity ready to make some vicious Snaily that can solo the entire main game from that point while making the lower class Tournaments a total joke(and get a Magic Key for another nuke).
    • In particular for DQM2, the simple, low cost, and easy to obtain Increase spell (which raises the defense of your entire party when used). Up until the Sky World (which is past the halfway point of the main game), very few enemies have skills that deal damage regardless of defense, have support moves to weaken, or just simply have really high attack to still hurt you despite defense boosts. So to get through anything up past the halfway point, you can simply use the Increase spell a few times in a battle and then be left completely untouchable (especially easy if you're using high defense monsters).
    • In Terry's Wonderland, there are several Non Player Characters willing to breed with you after you pass a certain class. One example is Teto, who after you beat him, apologizes for his behavior and offers to breed his Iceman with you. If you breed it with a bird, you get a Blizzardy, a high-end monster with high HP, agility, and defense. It is also used in many lucrative breeds of other high-end monsters when it starts to cap itself.
    • Also in Terry's Wonderland, there are a number of optional gates you can enter throughout the game that have bosses that are significantly stronger than what you should be able to take...and thus are significantly stronger than what you can get without abusing the other entries on this list. As such, if you can take them down (which requires a bit of luck and some status ailments), they'll be mainstays. The first of these, Madknight, can even take himself down without ailments, since his Rampage skill can target himself!
  • Distaff Counterpart:
  • Drop the Hammer: The Hammerman monster, to no one's surprise.
  • Dub Name Change: Pretty much a given. Most notable with Caravan Heart and the Joker games. Outside of Japan, most of the boss monsters and their new names had an Early-Bird Cameo because of this (as their respective games had not come out yet overseas).
  • Dump Stat: In the second game, Agility was squarely this; like in Pokemon it's supposed to be used to determine which monsters go first in battle, but instead of being deterministic with "faster goes first", the game randomly decides the monsters' order each turn with Agility only being an influence, a rather minor influence at that. It's so bad that a monster can have nearly half the Agility of another monster and still frequently go first, making Agility by far the least useful stat and nearly a nonfactor. And other than being used as part of the requirements to learn a few skills, Agility has no other effect at all (not even for running away, which is determined entirely by your monsters' levels). In the first game, turn orders were still decided randomly, but Agility played a much bigger influence in determing the turn order, so faster monsters would actually go first most of the time, making it a bit more useful.
  • Early-Bird Boss: The Hood Squid, the third boss of DQM2 and the first boss of the Pirate world, is the first boss to pose a real threat to the player. While it doesn't have that threatening of skills and its stats aren't outrageous, it's much stronger and durable than anything the player has fought thus far, hitting a lot harder than the Warmup Bosses of Oasis, while the player doesn't have that strong of monsters nor have monsters with access to much skills (as well as likely lacking any healing skills).
  • Early Game Hell: Caravan Heart gets hit pretty hard with this in the beginning compared to the other Dragon Quest games. You start out with only one monster, can't even befriend any more monsters since the monsters in Caravan Heart are named characters that join at set parts of the game, and you have to learn how to handle the caravan mechanic, where each step taken on the map consumes rations, which have to be refilled either with food items or gold. This means that not only are you fighting with only one party member for the first hour or so of the game, but you're also incredibly strapped for gold since regular exploration on the map is consuming a finite resource. It's not uncommon for players to get stuck before they reach the first Illusion.
  • Evil Counterpart: The mysterious swordsman in the original game, which series vets recognized. Downplayed with Prince Kameha in the second game, who is more bratty and sneaky than actually evil.
  • Evil Twin: Terry? in the first game, who looked like an older version of the protagonist wielding a sword. This may have been intentionally done for die-hard fans of the series.
  • Excuse Plot: In Joker, the framing (i.e. the Monster Scout Challenge) is simply "go catch some monsters".
  • Expy: Warden Trump is totally not Gendo Ikari; he even does the Gendo Pose. Compounded by the NERV / CELL connection, and the fact that his quiet son has four friends who have a strong connection to heavenly beings.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Played with here. Lightning and Darkness are used in some of the strongest spells and skills. Wind is a better fit for the "typical element trio" than either of those.
  • Foil: The Kings of Great Tree and Great Log. The former is a goofy but kindly Reasonable Authority Figure who wants Terry to be the champion of Great Tree but never at any point forces him, the latter is a serious and rude ruler who forces Milly to fight for Great Log.
  • Forced Level-Grinding:
    • In Joker, when you have to deal with quadrilinear synthesis in order to Catch em' All, you'll have to do a ton of grinding to raise and synthesise the ridiculous requirements, many of which require high end metallic slimes (which in turn require you to get a lot of the very difficult and annoying to get lower end metal slimes).
    • Thankfully, in Joker 2, it's been made somewhat easier. The english release gets Meddle Slimes, which are incredibly easy to catch post-game and turn into metal slimes when caught (allowing you to catch many of them without them becoming harder to scout). Not to mention that post-game, an entire, easy-to-access area composed of almost entirely Liquid Metal Slimes and Metal King Slimes is available, speeding up level grinding much faster.
  • Fusion Dance: What "breeding" has been presented as since Joker. Potentially a Woolseyism, as it explains where the "parents" disappear to, averts Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action, and allows for the third "gender" used in the breeding system (neutral, as opposed to positive and negative). The lack of defined genders also can be a relief for some people who would otherwise go to the trouble of catching a monster again if it turned out to be a girl after planning to give it a boy's name.
  • Global Currency Exception: There's an NPC in both of the first two games who will trade you medals for rare monster eggs. Including the Big Bad, once you beat the game. In Caravan Heart, it's medals for rare monster hearts.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: You get bonuses for it. Although some people just pick one or two families until the post-game.
  • Grande Dame: Madame Rhonda Rummy in Joker, the tournament's financial sponsor. One of the islands that function as "levels" in the game is entirely owned by her.
  • Green Hill Zone:
    • DQM2 has this in its first world, Oasis. The Oasis world is a desert-themed world, with a simple story, incredibly basic and weak random encounters, and just two very simple bosses that can each just be beaten by taking any random minimally-levelled team of monsters and ordering attack over and over with no strategy at all.
    • Joker starts with Infant Isle, a literal green hill that's home to many weak, easy to defeat enemies. Also the terrifying gigantes
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Breeding most of the boss-type monsters. (Some are based on Dragon Quest mythos, such as the boss of Dragon Quest II requiring his Dragon as one of it's parents.)
    • "Quadrilinear" synthesis combos were especially bad about this in Joker, with nearly all of them requiring ridiculous and nonsensical combinations.
    • Dragon Quest Monsters 2 had the Dream Egg system, which would allow you to get any monster in the game, except for the three hidden monsters (contrary to popular belief). While the game gives you a vague description of how it works, how it really works (which is really convoluted) is not explained.
    • Also in the second game, the combo moves. If your monsters use certain skills on the same turn, they can combine their moves into an ultra-powerful attack that is far more powerful than the attack skills in the game (e.g. one monster uses Blizzard and one uses Blazemost, they can combine their moves into Blitzer, an attack that strikes a single monster for around 800 damage). The existence of this phenomenon is not mentioned in the manual nor even remotely hinted at by any NPC in the game. Then there's actually figuring out what moves combo with each other, and the fact that if you do use the correct moves for a combo, your monsters need to have compatible personalities and it's a random chance for the combo to actually happen if all conditions are satisfied, a random chance that is still pretty low. As such, the vast majority of players weren't even aware of the existence of combo moves, much less knew the working combos in the game.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Even more so than Pokémon, as any two monsters can breed, no matter how terrifying or improbable that is.
  • Inevitable Tournament: Every game has a tournament arc somewhere along the line.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The higher rank monsters of the non-??? monster families in the various games, as well as any of the bosses that join you automatically. Most of the series' Dragons are included in the "higher rank monsters" list, and most of those are used in the creation of Infinity +1 Sword monsters.
    • DQM1 / DQM2: Any of the bosses that join you automatically (especially early game), any metal slime family monster.
    • Caravan Heart: Reincarnated human party members.
    • Joker: King Slime (VERY easily available, gets an overpowered skilltree based on the Dragon Quest III hero's spells and abilities)
    • Joker 2: Swarm, Conklave (Swarm gets 5-6 hits a turn and can equip anti-Metal Slime weapons, Conklave gets 4 hits per attack, attacks 1-2 times a turn, and can equip anti-Metal Slime weapons). Joker 2 also added specific Infinity -1 Sword monsters, in the form of X (Rank C) and XY (Rank S) versions of iconic Rank F monsters (Slime, Green Dragon, Conklave, etc). You get these by breeding 2 of the normal monsters together when they're level 20, or in the case of XY, by breeding 2 Xs at level 50.
    • Joker 2 Professional: Any monster can now do the X/XY system, meaning that with work, you can turn any monster in the game into a Rank S IMOS. (This also means there are over 800 monsters in the game. But hey, nobody argued with Battle Road Victory.)
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The ???? family of monsters in all games but Caravan Heart. They are all exclusively based on the Big Bads and Bonus Bosses of previous Dragon Quest games, all supremely powerful as a rule, and all fairly difficult to breed. DQM2 even had Mythology Gags in the form of "evolved" super-versions of the Dragon Quest bosses, such as a Berserk Dragonlord, or "Asura Zoma".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Warubou/Rottney is a total jerk in Terry's Wonderland, but turns out to be this in the sequel. He is rude and has a penchant for pranks, but when Great Log is in danger he immediately takes things seriously and gives the player sound advice in saving the island. When it turns out Great Log is on the verge of death, Warubou/Rottney reassures that the player did their best and is not at all hesitant to sacrifice himself to save Great Log.
    • Prince Kameha is a spoiled brat who nonetheless wants to make up for the mischief that endangers his island and goes to great lengths to do this.
  • Just Add Water: Any pair of monsters will create viable offspring. A very large number of monsters are never seen in game outside of breeding.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Rigor Mortex from Joker 2 is lot more malevolent and more serious than the previous villains which included the jerkish but far from evil kings, the foppish Darck, and the creepy but well-intentioned Dr. Snap. Gloom from the remake of DQM2 also falls into this, especially in comparison to Darck who was made even more goofy.
  • Leaked Experience: Monsters on your farm who aren't sleeping will slowly gain experience, at the cost of becoming much more wild.
  • Level Grinding: It's a Dragon Quest game, 'nuff said.
    • Part of the Level Grinding will come naturally, as you attempt, for the Four Hundred Billionth Time, to get a certain monster you need for a combination to join you.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted. Physical attacks can hit the damage cap, while magic and breath attacks have set values.
  • Luck-Based Mission: In Joker, to gain brief access to the Metal Menagerie (a place consisting entirely of metal slimes), without buying a pricey and one holdable at a time Metal Ticket, the player has to complete Madam Rummy's "Slime Challenge" (where you have to defeat a certain number of slimes in her garden before time runs out). Clearing the challenge though is a tedious process that requires luck to win; the spawning locations aren't consistent, the amount of Slimes in each encounter is random (usually it's the max amount of 3, but it can randomly be less), and the Slimes will randomly use the skill "Clang", a first strike move which makes them impervious to anything thrown at them that turn (essentially it wastes time, when you're on a time limit). So to win the challenge, you have to hope the Slimes spawn favorably, you don't get individuals or groups of two when you encounter them, and that they don't use Clang too much.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
  • Magikarp Power: Through skilled breeding and training, any monster can have any skill, and completely maxed-out stats. Or at least, in the first two games.
    • An example is the humble Slime. The first monster you get in every game except Joker/Joker 2 (where it's the first monster you catch), Slimes can learn Madante (Magic burst), the most powerful magic spell in the game. Or at least, could, if they could ever hope to get their stats high enough to pass the minimum stat requirements to learn it.
    • Metal Slime monsters tend to be this. At the start, they only have a decent defense and speed stat, and their unique immunity to magic — but defense scales oddly, meaning their single digit hit points won't save them. They also level up slower than anything else in the game. However, give them a few levels, and perhaps a few healing or support abilities, and they become some of the most game breaking monsters you can use.
  • Marshmallow Hell: You can teach your monsters the famous Puff-Puff move, though it is called "Ahh" in the English translation. Also in the ending of 3DS remake, Terry receives this from a bunny girl as congratulations for winning the Starry Night Tournament. This is notably one of the only times in the whole series it isn't a fake-out.
  • Mascot Mook: The iconic Slime is usually the first monster you get or capture, and in each game the Slimes make up an entire evolution tree on their own, with a few of them being designed specifically for the Mons games.
  • Metal Slime: And Liquid Metal Slime, and Metal King Slime, and Metal Kaiser Slime, and Gold Slime... Somewhat difficult to catch, but makes incredible monsters as when they are a part of your team, they retain the outrageous agility, defense, and immunity to negative status and all magic... But gain more than single digit hit points and actually get good spells.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Joker 2 Professional — Liquid Metal King Slime, which is a giant flying Liquid Metal Slime. Why? Why not!?
  • Missing Secret: Robbin' Hood in Joker. It can't be found in-game, synthesized, OR won online. The only way to get one in-game was to complete both the Monster and Skill libraries... Which would've required a Robbin' Hood in the first place. Leopold, Empyrea and Trode became these once the wi-fi tournaments for Joker stopped. Empyrea and Trode required ALL monsters (including them) and Leopold required a complete skill library (including a skillset that only Leopold had).
    • In the second game, after beating Kameha's team for the second time in the postgame, talking to him again has him give the same dialogue from between the two battles about how he's training to beat you, implying there's a third battle with him once you satisfy some conditions like the second battle required. However even if you complete the rest of the postgame content and obtain every monster, he still gives the same dialogue when you talk to him, as there's no third battle.
    • Dialogue in the second game also implies you'll be able to gain access to the door in the Starry Shrine behind the professor and the Starry Night Tournament will happen in this game with you competing in it, yet neither event ever occurs.
  • Mons: The main series has had monster catching all the way back in Dragon Quest V for the Super Nintendo, and this spinoff codified the DQ way of raising mons.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Every single dungeon in the first Dragon Quest Monsters is based on an iconic boss fight from a previous Dragon Quest game. For example, the first 2 dungeons are from Dragon Quest I, and have you fighting the Golem and Dragon, who join you. They even had plans to add a 99 floor dungeon that ended with the Bonus Boss of Dragon Quest VI: "Dark Dream" or Nokturnus, the local Satan analogue, but it was Dummied Out for time's sake. Dragon Quest Monsters 2 has "evolved" versions of all the iconic bosses, such as Asura Zoma, Lord Dragon, et cetera, as well. You discover in Caravan Hearts most of the way through the game that you're in the world of Dragon Quest II, centuries after the events of the original series.
    • Mixed with Continuity Nod; the main character of Terry's Wonderland is, as it happens, Terry, and his kidnapped sister's name is Milayou. Both of these kids share names with two major characters of Dragon Quest VI (which wasn't actually localized until 2011). This becomes especially relevant during the Final Boss sequence in Wonderland, when The Dragon is summoned to fight Terry. The game heavily implies the Dragon to be an older version of Terry, after a Deal With the Devil that saw him sell his soul for power while desperately searching for his sister — which describes the DQVI Terry's character arc exactly. "Terry?" even tells the main character to take care of his sister and not lose himself to the pursuit of power.
    • In original series (1 / 2), the bosses made somewhat logical sense — breeding the Dragonlord's (Dragon Quest) true form required you to use his first form. Most boss monsters were similar references to their original games. One notable exception to this is Hargon (Dragon Quest II), who isn't used to breed Sidoh, but instead is used to bread Baramos (Dragon Quest VI). Likewise, Baramos, who is NOT used for Zoma, but instead used for Mudou (Dragon Quest V) (Murdaw in modern translations). Mudou himself isn't used for Deathmoore (Mortamor), but rather is the only way to get Poseidon, an original monster for Monsters 2.note  What do all these bosses have in common? They're all famous Disc-One Final Boss — each of them were played up as the main antagonist of their respective games, quite famously in DQ 3's case, only to be revealed as only a middling flunky at best.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Battle Road Victory''s Coup de Graces. Not in terms of damage (though by the time a player successfully pulls one off, it will be a One-Hit Kill), but in execution. Here's what some of them look like.
  • Olympus Mons:
    • Most of the bosses from the main series, and all of the ones from the game itself, are recruitable, mostly through breeding, with Mythology Gag after Mythology Gag included in the process. For example, to get the true last boss of Dragon Quest II, you need to use his dragon. In most of the games, the last boss is available using Mini Medals after you finish the credits.
    • In the original 2 for the Gameboy Color, they added Olympus Mons Plus 1 — upgraded and evolved versions of the other Olympus Mons, such as a Zoma with a huge scythe ("Asura Zoma"), or a berserk Dragonlord (Lord Draco).
    • Joker would introduce even more, including many that are unique the Monsters franchise including a Metal Slime Death Star.
  • Oh, Crap!: The people of Great Log finally realize their island is sinking when almost all of it is submerged and react accordingly.
  • One Game for the Price of Two:
    • Dragon Quest Monsters 2 came in two versions, Cobi's Journey and Tara's Adventure. The main differences between the two lied not in the main quest (although they had different random encounter tables), but in the Playable Epilogue, where both versions featured completely different bonus worlds to explore. Each one had its own little plot. And, of course, following the trope to the letter, the best (non-randomly generated) bonus world required an item from both games to access.
    • The almost immediate re-release of Joker 2 as Joker 2 Professional may be seen as this as well. A persistent rumor is that they discovered a game breaking multiplayer glitch and had to patch it, and used the modifications to the game to justify forcing people to upgrade.
  • Palette Swap: A staple of the Dragon Quest series, this was actually mostly averted in most of the DQM games, with some exceptions — for example, Slime / Metal Slime, or Phoenix / Blizzardy in the original. The fact that Joker 2 returned to the series's roots with a large number of them actually pleased the fanbase as these were all Mythology Gags. The fact that it made Joker 2 really really complex, especially when breeding, especially when breeding old DQ bosses, was also a factor.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • DQM2's second main world, the Pirate World, has this. In the Pirate world, you immediately have access to water to surf on, where the water possesses random encounters much stronger than what you'll find on land in Pirate World until the very end of it. While the water's random encounters may be too strong for a player first entering Pirate, they naturally provide much more experience than the random encounters the player will encounter for a while through natural progression, so a player could grind on the water monsters to get some quick levels in and make most of Pirate a breeze. It's also possible to recruit these monsters upon immediately entering the world, so a player could get a relatively strong monster on their team very early on Pirate, especially if they're playing Tara's version and it's an Octoreach (which not only has the highest base stats of any random encounter in Pirate, but also has incredibly high growth rates for an early game monster, potentially being a Disc-One Nuke for the player).
    • DQM2's third main world, the Ice World, prevents the player from accessing the rest of the world before resolving a plot point within the world, with the mountain pass cut off by guards and ice preventing the player from surfing on the world's water. However, next to the port town that is immediately accessible, there's a four square stretch of water before water-blocking ice that can be surfed on, where water-based random encounters can be fought. Like in Pirate, these water monsters are stronger than what you'll find early on in the world and give more experience. Unlike Pirate though, the water monsters here aren't that much stronger than the early inland monsters while being weaker than the later inland monsters, so they're not as helpful for providing quicker levelling and have no potential as a Disc-One Nuke.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Averted. Every monster can be bred later (with some very specific exceptions—Watabou / Warubou, for example—and most of the games have randomization for items, meaning that the Sirloin you just wasted is replaceable. Even the spoilered monsters are available using the Dream Egg system in Dragon Quest Monsters 2, although, well good luck.
    • Captain Crow wasn't quite this in Joker 1 (you just had to re-find and re-fight him after using him up), but in Joker 2 once he's used, he's gone. The workaround is to use the game's Tag Mode — Tag Mode enables you to capture a friend's monsters, at the cost of the resulting monster being a "guest" and thus unusable in online play. Fortunately the "guest" tag can be removed after 5-20 generations of breeding.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Everything in the original Joker was named after a card game term. The Hero is Joker, The Rival is Solitaire, the main monster has different forms based on suits (Wulfspade, Hawkhart, Cluboon, Diamagon) with stronger Ace versions of each...
  • Plot Hole: Terry and his sister Milayou, the main two children in Terry's Wonderland are also important characters (as adults) in Dragon Quest VI, but events as they play out in VI raise questions about their DQM adventures. Terry and Milayou are both accomplished champions of monster breeding in DQM, and Milayou was even dating a prince, but at some point between DQM and VI they lose all access to the world of monsters and don't care. Events in Terry's Wonderland specifically seem to inspire his path as an adult. In Wonderland, Terry encounters a mysterious older swordsman wearing similar garb to him; in the end, the mysterious swordsman charges Terry with looking after his sister, no matter what. While western gamers wouldn't know it (since VI wasn't localized until 2011) the swordsman is actually a grown Terry, currently embroiled in a quest to find his sister that gets sidetracked by a Deal With the Devil — the Devil in this case being Dhuran, the Final Boss of Wonderland; the swordsman's presence in DQM is actually part of a Stable Time Loop.
  • Polygon Ceiling: The move to 3D came with a number of changes that alienated some of the player base, including the removal of randomly-generated dungeons, a very slow movement rate for the main character (necessitated by a combination of the new over-the-shoulder viewpoint, and the DS's small screen), a removal of random battles, and a complete overhauling of the skill and capture systems. In short, Joker 1 and 2 feel VERY different from the aggressively retro Monsters 1 and 2.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Monster strengths and powers in the Monsters series have only a tangential relation to their equivalents in the main games.
  • Power Nullifier: Mute status effects for spellcasters, surround status effects for melee, "trip" and other "waste a turn" effects for everyone.
  • Prequel:
    • The original game is a prequel to Dragon Quest VI.
    • Caravan Heart consists of the childhood adventures of Prince Kiefer of Dragon Quest VII. At the same time, savvy players will realize they're walking around in the world of Dragon Quest II.
  • Rank Inflation: Classes of monsters in Joker go from F to A, then S (for Japanese "shin", aka "perfect"), then X. In Joker 2, they renamed X as "SS".
  • The Rival:
    • In the original, Terry is constantly compared to a "Mystery Trainer" from the kingdom of Great Log, who is allegedly not only really good, but one of the scariest damn people you'll ever met. You don't actually get to meet this rival of yours until the final tournament, though. That's because your sister that you were supposed to be "rescuing" is the "Mystery Trainer."
    • Prince Kameha from Cobi and Tara's adventure tries to be this, but he is too inept and inexperienced to be one. It isn't until the post-game he gets a proper monster team.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The early games had an increasingly complex roguelike system, which was eventually ported to the main Dragon Quest series proper in DQ9's "grotto" system.
    • DQM 1 had nothing but a City of Adventure and dungeons that were completely randomly generated, making it a very simplistic Mons Roguelike.
    • DQM 2 added some more static areas, but also random worlds (including random towns, random monsters, random bosses, and 1-10 random dungeons each) through the "key" system.
    • Caravan Heart had a very static world map (it was the map from Dragon Quest II set centuries after the events of that game) but had very random dungeons.
    • Joker and Joker 2 mostly removed this element of the series to make way for the 3D, although Joker 2's "Hell" has random elements to it.
    • The Updated Rereleases of DQM1 and DQM2 for the 3DS retained the randomization.
  • Regional Bonus: The overseas release of Joker 2 fixed some bugs. As well, the formerly nigh-unscoutable meddle slime (which is an early game Metal Slime) could be scouted as a regular Metal Slime, which is a boon because, being a different enemy, the lowered scout rate from scouting an already scouted monster does not apply.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • In the second game, the king of the Oasis world actually goes out to address the concerns of his people, going into the well by himself to find the source of the water shortage and then later leading his men to the thieves' hideout, instead of just sitting on his throne and expecting you to solve everything like almost every other member of royalty in the series.
    • In the Terry's Wonderland remake the kings of Great Tree, Great Log, and Dead Tree accompany Terry to Blight Tree to protect the spirit stone.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The "Mystery Trainer" in the original whom everyone speaks of in fearful terms. Not only is she a girl, she's your sister. You know, the one you THOUGHT you were "rescuing."
  • Savage Wolves: In Joker, the hero partners with a Shapeshifter whose primary and original form is the "wulfspade". This monster is actually the legendary Incarnus, and his One-Winged Angel and Super Mode forms are variants on the adult wulfspade form.
  • Schizo Tech: The setting is medievalesque, but the main character uses a jet-ski to reach new islands.
  • Secret Character: In Dragon Quest Monsters 2, there are three hidden monsters (Dimensaur, Lamia, and Kagebou), that can't be legitimately obtained ingame by any means. The game's library will also never have any data on them or even count them (even after you obtain the monsters). The only way they could be obtained were through prizes from promotional contests (though since these contest have long since stopped happening, the only way to get them now is through cheat devices). Many myths and theories were thought of to get these monsters ingame, particularly through the Dream Egg system, but all of them have been debunked or never had any proof to back up the claims.
  • Skippable Boss:
    • In Dragon Quest Monsters 2, during the Pirate World you'll typically progress by beating the Hood Squid to get it to join you, where you then take it to the bard in a nearby town to get its dancing to summon a mermaid, which talking to the mermaid queen is required to get the ghost ship to appear. However it's not the Hood Squid's dancing specifically that attracts the mermaid, just any monster on your team with a dancing skill will do, so for example you could go get an Octoreach with Odd Dance instead and skip fighting the Hood Squid altogether.
    • In the same game's Sky World, at the end when you go to see the king with all three Heaven equipment, you'll have to fight some Evil Armors blocking various points in the castle, which serve as some mini-bosses. Using the Change Staff to transform yourself into an Evil Armor to make them think you're one of them doesn't work, as they'll question your rank and who you are, and then attack you when you can't answer. However if instead you use the Change Staff to transform yourself into one of the Demonites around the castle, they'll think you're one of the cooks and will let you through, disappearing permanently in the process and allowing you to skip fighting them.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Happens often from one game to the next. You should be able to easily figure out who is who though.
  • Spin-Off: The entire series to Dragon Quest, but more specifically, Caravan Hearts is a direct spinoff of Dragon Quest VII — Keifer is sucked into the Dragon Quest II world (a few centuries after the events of the Loto/Erdrick trilogy) and has to fix things that have gone wrong in the years since a hero last visited. Dragon Quest Monsters Battle Road is a spin off to this spin off.
  • Start of Darkness: In Joker, it's suggested that dark matter, the Life Energy of monsters, doubles as The Corruption for human beings. So, Dr. Snap, who was indubitably evil from the start, may have gone mad after he took an interest.
  • Starter Mon:
    • In the Game Boy games, it's just a Slime. Mostly it's because Slimes are the Mascot Mook, as they're very common and weak, but they do have Magikarp Power in that they can learn Mega Magic.
    • In Joker, you get a special, powerful, ???-type partner who can change his form. He's also the only monster you can't remove from your party.
    • In the remake of Dragon Quest Monsters 2, you get a special monster whom you can change the appearance and stat growth of. This monster learns special skills no other monster does, is ???-type, and is gifted to you by a godlike monster who wants you to look after her child.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: In the first two games, you can woo monsters to your side by feeding them quality meat.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The King of Great Log is a lot nicer in subsequent appearances. This includes the remake where he becomes an ally after you defeat his champion in the tournament.
  • Treachery Cover Up: In Joker, Snap's villainy is given this treatment in the post game, as the truth would probably cause a panic.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: A very weird In-Universe version of this. Ever wanted to see if Zoma could take on Psaro? Well, now you can. The intro to the new Wii title dials this up to 11.
  • Updated Re-release: And each one can generally be expected to have newer, cooler monsters that you will never see in the West.
    • DQM 1+2 PSX, a Playstation remake of Dragon Quest Monsters 1 and 2, with improved graphics and the ability to do various things cross generations (breed between a DQM and DQM2 save, for example).
    • Both Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 and Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3 got "Profesisonal" re-releases relatively shortly after release, which were similar to Expansion Packs — hundreds of new monsters, rebalancing, additional storyline content, et cetera. They also had a more heavy focus on online competitive play.
    • Terry's Wonderland 3D is a remake of the first game for the Nintendo 3DS. The game retains the roguelike elements of the first game, but is fully 3D, implements the Joker skilltree and monster size system, and includes an expansive epilogue that takes place after the original game's ending.
    • Similarly, DQM2 got a remake, as a single 3DS title: Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru and Luca's Marvelous Mysterious Key. Beyond the additions in Terry's Wonderland, "Super G" monsters that count as entire parties by themselves are added, as well as the item forging mechanic from Dragon Quest 10 and 11, rebirth monsters from DQX / DQXI, and a double speed mode for combat.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Subverted. The status effect spells are actually pretty useful, especially against other Tamers.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Dr. Snap wanted to make a paradise for monsters in Joker. Overlaps with Dystopia Justifies the Means, as he was quite willing to wipe out humanity to do this.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Snap in Joker. To the point where everyone thinks that he was the one who saved the world, and people continue to believe that he was the good guy long after you beat the game.
  • Visionary Villain: Dr. Snap wants to make a world for monsters by eliminating humans.
  • Warmup Boss:
    • In DQM2, the first boss Beavern fulfills this role, being a simplistic boss with no threatening skills. He's only slightly stronger than the normal enemies you been fighting, and is there to give players experience against an enemy that could pose a threat to them if they're rushing through without levelling up their team at all. The second and final boss of the Oasis world, Curselamp, also qualifies; while its stats, particularly its durability, are a bit beefier than Beavern's, its attack power is mediocre and the only skill it knows is Upper. So with any team that's a bit levelled up, it poses low offensive threat, and by just ordering attack over and over with no strategy, you can easily beat it before it can raise its defense enough with Upper to be impervious to your attacks.
    • In Terry's Wonderland Hale, a Healer with only his regular attack and can heal himself. If you have recruited a full team, he can go down in a couple of turns.
  • Wasted Song:
    • In DQM2, Limbo has its own unique overworld music, but unless you spend a lot of time grinding with Limbo's random encounters before fighting the final boss, you'll get to barely hear it, as the world is extremely short and devoid of content, and once you beat the world, its overworld music reverts to the generic overworld theme that plays in the rest of the main worlds, which then makes the Limbo overworld theme gone on that file. The theme that plays inside the final boss' castle, a remix of the Limbo overworld theme, also qualifies, as unless you grind against the random encounters there, you'll also only hear it for a couple minutes before fighting the final boss, and once you beat him, his castle disappears permanently, making it inaccessible for the rest of that file (you can still enter the entrance area before the castle after beating him and hear the castle's theme, but the bridge to the castle is gone and there's absolutely nothing to do there).
    • The Ice World also has its own unique overworld theme that plays nowhere else in the game, and like Limbo, it turns to the generic overworld theme after clearing the world, making it permanently gone on that file upon clearing the world. However, unlike Limbo, the Ice world is very large and elaborate with a lot to explore, so you'll spend some time there with its unique overworld theme before clearing it.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • In Joker, Snap thinks he's one, but he's much closer to a Card-Carrying Villain with a god complex.
    • Your dad and his "evil" organization might actually be one, since they seek to wipe out all the monsters. You know the ones that constantly attack and kill humans, and those demons who keep trying to destroy the world.
    • The Celestial Fiends in the Terry's Wonderland remake want to take the spirit stone from the humans so that they can save their own kingdom. In the end they aren't evil at all, they are even willing to listen to the humans if they can supply an alternate solution.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: You can't kill Dr. Snap because he's human. Then he is transformed into a monster. Immediately afterwards you're told it's okay to kill him now.
    Incarnus: Come, Player, attack! This... THING has ceased to be human... It no longer deserves our mercy!
  • World Tree: Lots of kingdoms in the DQM world live inside of enormous trees: Great Tree, Big Stump/Big Tree, Dead Tree, Great Log, and Blight Tree.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: In Caravan Heart, you beat the Big Bad, causing him to flee the (good) High Demon Lord he was possessing, only... he ... fled... right? Whoops. After the credits, you see the 4 other (good) Demon Lords who helped you out throughout the game floating in the darkness... then the darkness sprouts a hideous face. Cue the hero having to run screaming back to the Alternate Universe to sort that little mess out....


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