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Video Game / Monster Racers

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Anyone who's familiar with more than one Mons Series has probably noticed at least one primary thing about them: Overwhelmingly, they tend to be combat-oriented. Sure, there's the occasional Pet Interface among them, but even then, outside of the friendly virtual-pet interface, monsters like to fight each other. Someone at Koei must have looked at this, and thought, "Well, why do monsters have to do bodily harm to each other to be fun? How about monsters who engage in some healthy competition, like, say... racing?"

As you might've gleaned from the title, the 2010 Nintendo DS game Monster Racers is exactly that. A monster-raising game where, instead of fighting each other, monsters engage in friendly races with one another. The game combines the monster-catching and stat-building of the Mons genre with two-dimensional, Platformer-style races. Not only does it buck the turn-based RPG trend, it also does away with convention by being set in the real world (well, "real"). The presence of strange monsters is explained (sort of) by the fact that, a few years ago, a random, star-shaped island appeared in the Pacific Ocean, and shortly after it appeared, monsters that love racing each other started appearing on all the continents.

One thing that isn't unfamiliar, however: You play as a young boy or girl on a quest to become the world's greatest monster racer. That quest will take you not only to Star Island, but all around the world, from the Australian Outback to Mt. Fuji and beyond. On your quest, you'll take on the Star Seven—the greatest racers from each continent—and maybe a few villains as well. Good luck with that!

Not to be confused with Monster Racer, a mascot racer, or Monster Rancher, which is a simulation series.

This game contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Bruce just can't get Misaki's name right. She eventually suspects he's doing it just to mess with her. When he does finally get it right, he has no idea why she's so shocked. Or is he?
  • Aerith and Bob: Unavoidable, given the international nature of the cast. The main group of kids includes Misaki, Gen, and Zoltan, with enemies Rosalita and Don Jung. Oddly, the Star Seven all have very Western names, including Japanese Edwin...except for Tatanya.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: All of them, even if they're in India. All deserts have oases too, it seems.
  • All Just a Dream: If you lose during a tournament, it will tell you that you were kicked out of the tournament... only for your assistant to shake you awake and tell you to snap out of it; there's a tournament to go to.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The Sweden Cup, one of the very last tournaments you can unlock, has every single terrain type in it, serving as a culmination of all you've seen in the game.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: And look for the telltale sparkle on the ground that indicates Star Crystals are there.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Actually inverted for once: The Japanese boxart has a rather fierce looking picture of Furion, while the American boxart focuses on the very cheerful protagonists.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: You get kidnapped by a group of them in Africa, but they let you go when they find out you're nice to monsters. Moses is similarly serious about the treatment of monsters, but he's much more laid-back. He won't challenge you until you've proven your kindness to monsters to him, however.
  • Anime Hair: Edwin, which may be invoked in that he's the Asian Star Seven member. Moses too, to a lesser extent.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Done three times for the final boss: At first, from a storyline perspective, it seems obvious that it's Elder Aku, and indeed, said does appear to you after you beat the gauntlet of Recurring Bosses he set up for you... but then the camera pans away to reveal the True Final Boss... Professor Olaf! Except that the professor just bungled in there, and the real final boss is actually Misaki! Surprise! Played with some more in the post-game content, when it turns out the two fake bosses actually are even harder bosses.
  • Boxing Kangaroo: Jabberoo, one of the Oceanic monsters, is a kangaroo wearing boxing gloves.
  • But Thou Must!: If you don't want to take Misaki on as your assistant, your PC's dialogue option is thoughtful, polite, and appropriate as a rejection. You think she's having any of that? Of course not.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. As you go through the game and win tournaments, your fame builds, and you actually start to build up a fanbase. People do indeed treat you better because of it.
  • Elemental Powers: Done in a different fashion from most, in that a monster's elemental powers factor in what surfaces they're best at running over. So fire-type monsters can run on lava without taking damage, and water-type ones can swim at full speed.
  • Escape Rope: There's the regular Rope Ladder, which returns you to the map screen, and there's the Warp Ladder, which immediately takes you home. There's really no difference between them, though, since there's really no reason you can't go straight home from the world map.
  • Fluffy Tamer: The Monsterium lady, who loves even the scariest-looking monsters.
  • Frictionless Ice: Every area with snow in it has some of this ice. The North Pole is made up almost entirely of sliding ice puzzles like this.
  • Global Currency: Since the game is set in our world, the game attempts to avert this: The only place to spend money is on Star Island, and in the different fields, you can only ever get Shop Fodder from other racers or in treasure chests. This, of course, all breaks down in the races, since every racetrack, no matter where it's located, is littered with Star Island's currency, Uni.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Rosalita and her companion Dong Jun appear throughout the game, challenging you to races and stealing things.
  • Goomba Stomp: Jumping on your opponents will damage them and temporarily slow them down.
  • Green Hill Zone: Star Field is a green forest area which serves as the very first dungeon for the game.
  • Heroic Mime: Your character's text boxes never display anything but "...", but that doesn't stop them from having a lot to say.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Some of the Turbo skills have a larger area of effect than you might guess just from the sprite.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Your first fight against Reinhart. What did you expect when you challenged the World Champion near the very start of your career, anyway? ( He is technically beatable if you level grind like mad, but after a moment of shock, he summarily ignores your victory and leaves while pretending nothing happened.)
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Any monster can breed with any other monster, regardless of just about anything else. Perhaps justified, as the process appears to be Mad Science-driven.
    "I want to start breeding monsters, but Daddy says I'm not allowed to play God until I'm at least thirteen."
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Er, sort of. You do feed your monster crackers in order to heal them. However, monsters' health isn't measured by actual health, but rather Will, or determination to race. So although you feed them to "heal" them, you're really just helping them stay motivated.
  • Iconic Item: All monsters have a Power Gem on them that serves as one.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: The Monsterium lady, who's either a case of this or Offscreen Teleportation. She explicitly tells you not to think too much about how she does it.
  • Infinity +1 Element: In a way, the Hover ability. It grants immunity to all terrain types, though it doesn't provide any bonuses the way the regular Elemental Powers do.
  • Land Downunder:
    • Oceania is your first, non-Star Island destination. It features monsters based on Aussie wildlife, and you can visit landmarks like Ayers Rock, a rainforest, and the Great Barrier Reef.
    • Special mention must be made of Bruce, a man so Australian he sweats Fosters and bleeds Vegimite. Most of his dialogue is nigh-on incomprehensible.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Star Caves, which is actually one of the earlier dungeons. The lava courses can be quite tricky unless you choose Phoechick as your starting mon, since fire types are difficult to come by early on. There's also ones in Russia and Mt. Etna.
  • Mad Scientist: Franz N. Stein has a German accent and breeds monsters together through what is implied to be gene splicing.
  • Mascot Mook: Furion, in addition to featuring prominently on the box art, is also the signature monster of current Master Reinhart. However, it's actually one of the Olympus Mons, and one of the very last you're likely to catch.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Implicit with a number of the Eurasian monsters, many of whom have high Power.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Monster racing has been around for ten years, but aside from a little Mad Science here and there and the ease with which you can travel the world, not much is different.
  • Noob Cave: Star Fields is the first dungeon of the game and is used to provide an introduction to battling and befriending monsters in the wild.
  • Nitro Boost: They're littered around the courses. The Great Barrier Reef also has special wave-shaped ones.
  • Notice This: Star Crystals on the ground have a telltale sparkle.
  • Object-Shaped Landmass: The backstory of the game involves a strange landmass called Star Island, which resembles a star, appearing in the middle of the ocean, filled with monsters who love to race.
  • Olympus Mons: Each continent has its own legendary monster, which becomes available in the Playable Epilogue. They're all based on legendary mythical beings from that continent's history (except North America's, which is based on Tyrannosaurus rex), and it's implied that they were the inspiration for those beings.
  • Palette Swap:
    • This is a power you as the player actually have. You can give your monsters "Monster Orbs," which allow them to change color. The more orbs you give them, the more dramatically you can change their colors. It also helps unlock new skills, as a bonus.
    • And let's not forget Exotic monsters! Exotic monsters are essentially this game's version of Shinies- they literally are palette swaps, they're significantly harder to find (and harder to befriend, too), and using Monster Orbs, while increasing their loyalty, doesn't change their palette. They also get a significantly cooler encounter theme.
  • Playable Epilogue: Wondered about those strange altars scattered across the globe, in all the various dungeons you visited? Of course you did! Once you beat the game, a whole new story arc opens up where you can explore them all to meet the game's Olympus Mons.
  • Post-Final Boss: Misaki. The previous boss fight is against three of the toughest racers in the game all at once, on a battlefield filled with ups, downs, and lava, and their monsters have absolutely brutal skills and turbos. By comparison, even though Misaki has a legendary monster, the battlefield is relatively mundane, and has an easy-to-run-on surface. You also only have to race one person at a time.
  • Power Crystal: All of the monsters have one or more on their body somewhere.
  • Pre Existing Encounters: Wild monsters appear in the overworld as yellow orbs. You can also use an item to freeze them in place and avoid battle, but some of them don't move anyway.
  • Punny Name: The game overfloweth with them. The traveling billionaire Phil T. Rich, for example...
  • Recurring Boss: You must rematch all of the Star Seven in a row before facing the final boss.
  • The Rival: Zoltan, whose name alone clues you in to his attitude.
  • RPG Elements: Monsters have stats, skills, and levels, and your gain EXP from races, but races aren't like RPG fights at all.
  • Secret Test of Character: The whole game is one. Misaki and her grandfather were trying to find people worthy of looking after the monsters and ensure they never fall into bad hands.
  • Sequential Boss: Before facing the final boss, you must rematch each of the Star Seven. You do get breaks in-between to save, but trying to leave or losing means you have to start all over again.
  • Shop Fodder: As a substitute for Global Currency, you can find bronze, silver, and gold ingots scattered around the world. Their only use is to be exchanged for money you can actually spend, and avert the question as to why everyone in the world is using the same currency now.
  • Silent Snarker: The PC has a very expressive range of facial expressions, despite never saying anything. They get a lot of mileage out of the "exasperated" one.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Eurasia's terrain mainly consists of snow (which piles up and slows your monsters down over time) and Frictionless Ice.
  • Stage Mom: Tatyana's parents, who constantly insist that she's their "hope for the future" and pressure her into doing well. Sure, their daughter is the Star Seven of Eurasia, but she's happy to lose to you because it means a lot of the pressure is off her.
  • Spoonerism: Professor Olaf is constantly wixing his mords around and screwing up common idioms.
  • Starter Mon: You can choose between Leafy, Cuboom, and Phoechick, each of which specializes in running over a different terrain.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: There's a house in the First Town which is sporadically inhabited by whichever player character you didn't choose. It's implied that they're from an alternate dimension, and risking a lot to come and see you. Why make such a dangerous trip across dimensions? Giving you stuff on holidays, apparently.