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Video Game / Master of the Monster Lair

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The Masters of the Monster Lair! ...and their talking shovel.

Master of the Monster Lair is an Eastern RPG for the Nintendo DS made by Global A Entertainment and published by Atlus in 2008.

Owen is a young boy from the sleepy town of South Arc. The Mayor is dismayed by his town's lack of exciting tourist attractions, so he gets a really bright idea - get someone (Owen) to build a dungeon in the nearby cave to attract monsters. Upon discovering a talking magic shovel, Owen is given the daunting task by the Mayor of transforming the town's only cave into something a hero would be proud of.

As the aspiring eponymous Master of the Monster Lair, Owen must use his shovel to dig holes in the dungeon and create rooms for monsters to spawn in so that Owen (and presumably other future heroes) can fight them.

Master of the Monster Lair provides examples of:

  • Annoying Arrows: When you're introduced to bow-type weapons, you're told specifically that they deal extremely low damage but often have good secondary effects. This is pretty much accurate.
  • Anti-Hero: Owen and Kate are either Type 2 or Type 3. They're doing what they do for the sake of world peace, but they sometimes use some unscrupulous tactics to get what they want, including forging a letter from the Devil Prince threatening to murder the town mayor, in order to get his permission to build a 10th floor. They also have no problem killing enemies, even ones who offered to spare their lives. (See What Measure Is a Non-Human?, below.)
  • Beast Man: A large, large number of enemies, to various different levels: warcats, wardogs, humanosaurs, King Leon (lion), otter warriors... the list goes on for quite a while. Surprisingly, only one enemy type qualifies as being merely a Little Bit Beastly: the forked cat and its stronger types.
  • Black and White Magic: Kate and Owen use them, respectively. The shopkeeper calls them "naughty and nice" magic.
  • Black Magician Girl: Tomboyish Kate uses primarily uses offensive magic, in contrast to Owen's repertoire of healing and support magic. She asks the magic shopkeeper for ever more powerful spells to use against monsters. To round out the trope description, she primarily equips bows and staves as weapons.
  • Big Bad: The Devil Prince. Also The prince's father, Devil Lord, who you can fight in the post-game.
  • Body Horror
    • Gloop's LEGO Genetics can qualify as this if you have a good imagination. Try picturing a creature with the torso of a gigantic bull, the arms of an octopus, teeny-tiny little crowbat feet, and a fleshless skull for a head.
    • The ogre cyclops seems normal enough, until it decides to fire its Eye Beams... and its head splits open across the middle to expose its brain.
  • Child Soldiers: Owen and Kate are 12 and 13 years old, respectively.
  • Church Militant: The valkyries, who are stated to serve an "evil goddess."
  • Crossover: Owen and Kate also appear in My World, My Way.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Certain rooms allow the player to fight enemies under... less than fair conditions. For example, enemies spawning in any of the three types of bedrooms (straw, fancy, or plush) will be asleep at the start of combat, allowing them to be easily picked off one-by-one. Other rooms that have things like this are the demon cell (enemies are sealed and can't use special abilities), cellar (enemies are groggy and have a chance to fall asleep each turn), and the refrigerator (enemies are chilled and have greatly reduced attack power). The game encourages you to use these rooms as much as possible.
    • Really, the basic premise behind the game itself qualifies as well. Sure, you could become an adventurer and travel the world to hunt down monsters, but you'd be spending most of your nights in a cheap tent with no showers and only the most basic of food. Why do that when you can just dig a big hole outside of town, lure monsters in there to beat the stuffing out of them, and then go back home each night for a hot bath, a nice meal, and a good night's sleep?
  • Death Is Cheap: Monsters who are killed simply return to Hell, which is exactly 21 floors underground. This becomes part of a gameplay mechanic, allowing the player to re-fight defeated bosses upon reaching the 20th and final floor of the dungeon.
    • Also brings Gameplay and Story Integration into play: the Devil Princess doesn't mind that you killed her brother because he isn't really gone. She even tries to thank you for teaching the Smug Snake a lesson. The Devil Lord does get upset when you kill his kids, but only at the audacity that you, a mere human, would dare to harm a devil.
  • Dirty Coward: Shovel is accused of being this because he hides whenever the party fights boss. On the other hand, he is just a shovel, which Owen and Kate eventually come to realize and stop harassing him over it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Shovel really likes it when Owen rubs him with olive oil.
  • Dungeon Crawling: You make your own, then you crawl in it! The game features this — with a dungeon you make yourself — along with a deconstruction of some of the assumptions usually implicit to this premise; having a dungeon near your town is considered desirable, as it acts as a tourist attraction, lures monsters out of the wilderness where they pose more of a danger to ordinary people, and the items monsters hoard in dungeons can be quite valuable. In this game and My World, My Way, which is an otherwise unconnected game that takes place in the same world, "Dungeon Maker" is a respected profession.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Many, many examples.
    • Among Owen and Kate's fellow townsfolk only the furniture shop employees (Woody and Frau) are actually given names. The rest are all caled by their professions: the Mayor, the Trader, etc. Justified as Owen probably hasn't actually asked any of their names; he actively dislikes the ethically questionable Mayor and the obnoxious Magic Shopkeeper, is too shy to carry on a real conversation with the beautiful Trader, etc.
    • Owen, likewise, is referred to as Dungeon-Digger by most of his fellow townsfolk. Shovel just calls him Buddy.
    • Many of the boss enemies in the game are referred to by their species or title instead of by a name. Notable examples include the Devil Lord and his children, who even sign their letters to Owen this way.
    • The talking, magical shovel, as well, is most often just called Shovel. Possibly subverted as Shovel even refers to itself this way, implying that might be its actual name.
  • Eye Beams: Ironsides uses them, as do the ogre cyclops and ogre triclops.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: The cat monsters are female; the dog and wolf monsters are male.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Kate can equip bows and staves, while Owen can't. Conversely, Kate can't equip axes or swords, while Owen can. Kate also has far more offensive magic than Owen.
  • Hidden Depths: Woody, the accountant for the furniture shop, is originally a great example of a Miser Advisor: ostensibly a good guy, but totally money-hungry. This lasts until the player gets access to the Laboratory room. In the name of world peace Woody chooses to sell you the Laboratory at a 1,000 gp loss to himself.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Holy Light spell. It's extremely effective against undead like ghosts and skeletons, and usually One Hit Kills them.
  • HP to One: The "Devastation" magic spell.
  • Hub Level: The town.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: You as the main character build your own dungeon out of tunnels and specialized rooms for monsters to live in. One of those rooms is a treasure chest room, where monsters are inclined to just dump any equipment they have on their person.
  • Item Farming: Owen and Kate raise their stats by eating food. Almost all decent food requires at least one ingredient you can't purchase in town. Half the time, fighting an enemy gets you equipment or Shop Fodder rather than the food you're looking for. Do the math.
  • LEGO Genetics: Gloop the slime can mimic other creatures, and can even have each of his individual body parts (arms, legs, body, and head) be from different "donors."
  • Life Drain: Some special weapon abilities can do this, as can the Lifesteal spell.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The boss of the 5th floor is an Iron Golem who takes 1 damage from nearly all attacks. The only way to deal significant damage to him is to hope that your sword randomly triggers its one-hit KO attack. And even then, it only deals 100 of the 300-or-so HP the boss has, so you have to get really lucky 3 times before the boss's strong attacks kill you.
  • Magic Knight: All three playable characters. Owen is primarily a physical attacker who also specializes in healing and support spells. Kate is primarily a blaster mage but she's also decent at physical attacks if you raise her STR stat and give her a good spear or bow. Gloop can use both types of magic and use any equipment, at least as long as he's mimicked the right enemies.
    • Some enemies also combine magic and physical combat in this way. Mage cats, who use healing magic as well as decent bows, are a good example, as are the demon armors who use powerful spears as well as the Devastation spell.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Many examples, including crowbats (crows with bat wings), crowcats (cats with crow wings), pigboars (granted they look about like regular boards), and buffalobull (a buffalo with longhorn bull horns). Also applies to a few bosses:
    • The apple viper, which also qualifies as a Planimal.
    • The rogue leon, which is a humanoid with lion head and bat wings.
    • The devlin, which is half devil and half goblin.
  • Never Say "Die": Zig-Zagged.
    • Played Straight: Enemies and players defeated in battle are KO'd, words like "destroy" are thrown around, and even the Devil Prince's letter threatening the mayor, actually written by Owen, stops short of saying the word die, instead threatening to "take [him] to Hell."
    • Averted: There are times when the game does use unambiguous words like "kill" and "slay." Also, while it leaves the fate of some of the mooks ambiguous (on floor 2 you are told you're "capturing" hobgoblins, for example) it's abundantly clear that none of the boss enemies survive - some of them are even stuffed and put on display!
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Gloop the mimic slime, who joins Owen early in his quest.
  • The Paladin: Owen. He's not involved with any church, but he does hold true to the trope of combining physical combat with healing and anti-evil magic.
  • Planimal: A number of enemies, including the spple viper, fireflower, shroomlizard, cursed pepper, taterbomb, etc.
  • Power Copying: While Owen and Kate raise their stats by eating food every day, Gloop has a chance of mimicking a body part of an enemy monster after every fight. What he's copying at the moment determines his stats, special attacks, and possible equipment. The only thing that persists between forms is learned spells; he can learn spells by copying the Head of certain monsters.
  • Power-Up Food: The two human characters increase their stats by eating, with different meals raising different stats.
  • Random Drop: Animal enemies will often drop pelts, while humanoid enemies will sometimes drop rare coins.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Ironsides the golem has a big hole in its chest, exposing a glowing heart-like object.
    • The Devil Prince and his sister, the Devil Princess: the left half of their faces look like a human's, but the right half has red skin and demonic features. Interestingly their father does not look like this; his face is completely red and demonic.
  • The Reveal: King Leon was using you to set up a dungeon as his base of operations to take over the world before the Devil Prince can.
  • Sleazy Politician: The Mayor. He might not actually be corrupt, but he clearly cares far more about money than he does about world peace or even the safety of his own citizens.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Magic Barrier. It stops a single magic attack and hits the caster for 1/3 of the damage it would've done. The problem is that 90% of enemies don't use magic and when they do they're usually highly resistant to the element they use. The spell is useful for dealing with a few boss fights, but that's about it.
  • We Buy Anything: The weapon/armor shop purchases any items/equipment you find.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Sure, the enemies are all monsters who want to rule the world, but they're not all that bad. Some of them, like the Elder Dragon, even offer to let Owen and Kate go if they surrender, but that doesn't stop our heroes from killing them and stuffing their corpses to put on display.
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: Owen and Kate are childhood friends. Gloop and Shovel are the strangers. The game starts with Owen, who starts adventuring with a magic talking shovel and soon meets an intelligent slime named Gloop. After completing the second floor of the dungeon he's joined by his childhood friend, Kate.