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Now, Monster Rancher as a series is quite different from genre staples in that it's a monster raising simulation, and the series takes that title to heart. At times it can dip into unprecedented levels of difficulty, but come on, who doesn't love a little challenge?
Monster Rancher EVO ("Monster Farm 5: Circus Caravan" in Japanese) is a bit different from older entries and later entries in that it retains 4's raise-5-monsters-at-a-time mechanic, while being more plot-heavy and traditionally RPG-ish than any predecessor (which explains its weird English name). You play as the aforementioned Julio, who, in the beginning of the game is not confident in his Breeding skills. The game begins as your circus troop of you, Albert, Marlene, and Gaufre are joined by Nayuta, who quickly demonstrates a rather unique talent: unlocking monsters from Saucers.
Armed with this ability, and Julio's Anima Recorder, you and the Orcoro Circus set out on a continent-spanning adventure, fighting stray monsters with darkened anima, unraveling each character's past, and putting on circus shows.
Tropes present in Monster Rancher EVO:
- Ambiguously Brown: Gaufre and Nayuta. The former is from a colorful Jamaica caricature, but the latter is more of a straight example.
- Anime Hair: Pretty much everybody up there. Spikes and huge, naturally gravity-defying hair is front and center among the main cast.
- Artificial Stupidity: Fighting the stray monsters can become this, as they'll politely wait around for your Guts to charge up most of the time. But sometimes, they won't.
- Blind Idiot Translation: Most definitely dips into this at some points. The translation is equivalent to an extremely good scanlation at most times, but when the lack of contractions and plurals rears its ugly head, you will notice. It doesn't hurt that this doesn't hinder the game in the least.
- Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: Tigers, which are more like wolves, and Hares, which look like gigantic bunnies. Golems, Pixies, Plants and Dragons avert this trope, as do other species of monster.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Dotty and Petty play this trope completely straight. They quote tried-and-true villain staples like getting somewhere before the heroes and blocking their path and stealing the MacGuffin just because the heroes want it.
- Cherry Tapping: The quickest way to win a boss fight? Raising a monster's Speed and Power/Intelligence to ridiculous heights and pounding away with low-Guts moves.
- Com Mons: The only monster that gives this feeling off is if you get one too many Hares unlocking discs.
- Continuing Is Painful: Mercifully averted in the case of losing to the dungeon bosses. If all three of your monsters get knocked out, you'll simply get a scene where Nayuta and Julio resolve to come back stronger. Cue Next Week.
- Cool Helmet: Who else but Gaufre? You got to admit, the guy makes steel and bull horns look natural. There is a reason for it though, in his village, it's customary to only show your face to family members.
- Competitive Balance: Any monster can beat any other monster if you put enough time and effort into raising it.
- Dungeon Crawling: Very present. A few monster races are ride-able however, making moving through the dungeons much quicker.
- Exposition Genie: Bajarl, a monster which was only raise-able in the second game, returns to explain things to you as you traverse the various dungeons.
- First Town: Colno, which possesses nice trees, a breezy atmosphere, and relatively normal living conditions compared to later towns you'll find.
- Genre Shift: Mainly, more of a half-and-half RPG/Simulation than it's earlier Monster Rancher entries.
- Gimmick: A positive example. "Do you remember how you thought there were monsters hiding around your house? There are! Unlock the monsters inside of your CDs and DVDs to raise and battle!" You'll be scrambling around your house to find out if you can get an awesome monster from that Hannah Montana DVD you hid in your sock drawer.
- God Did It: The origin of all Monsters (as explained in earlier game, MR 2) is that God created monsters to make it easier on humanity. But that created a slew of new problems, so God taketh awa--er, seal in Saucer stones to be resurrected when humans could be trusted.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: The Violet Cats, a duo of by-the-(cliched)-book villains who are out to annoy you at every turn.
- Gotta Catch Em All: It wouldn't be a mons game without this! Even though there are only around 25 base breeds in this game out of the 70 or so in the whole series, you can have sub-breeds, main monsters with the characteristics of their sub. Bringing the grand total to 246 collectable, raisable, fightable critters.
- Guide Dang It: The game itself is pretty easy to scratch the surface of. But getting deeper into the mechanics will require a dedicated site.
- Idle Animation: Every monster breed has them, and they're quite nice to look at.
- Killed Off for Real: A defining characteristic of Monster Rancher, also present here, is that monsters die from old age no matter how much you train and adore them.
- Let's Play: BlueThe Prairiedog has one up and ready.
- Love Triangle: Albert was caught up in one in his hometown that carried on for years due to a misunderstanding. It gets addressed and wrapped up over the course of the game, though.
- Magikarp Power: EVERY monster in the game has the power to beat the final boss single-handedly. Think about that.
- Mini Game: The bread and butter of your circus performances is doing well in minigames, which are tied to specific tricks that increase specific parameters for a single monster. That 30-second time limit gets shorter and shorter feeling as you get more monsters and harder minigames to complete.
- Mascot: Piroro for Monster Rancher EVO specifically. Mocchi and Suezo for the series as a whole.
- Mon: 246 of 'em!
- Monster Clown: Albert.
- Nintendo Hard: Easier than earlier games, but still prevalent.
- Pretty Butterflies: Monsters' 'souls' are represented as rainbow-colored butterflies.
- The Psycho Ranger: Dotty's Piroro/Gitan gives the impression of this, as it's a dark purple sub-breed of your purebred Piroro.
- Rebellious Princess: Marlene
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Big Bad of the game is trying to revive this even Bigger Bad--Moo. Could be considered a staple of the main games at this point.
- Sir Not Appearing In This Game: When your monster is performing tricks in the circus shows, sometimes the tricks involve old monsters such as Bakus and Color Pandoras. Just like with Bajarl, they're for show only, completely un-raisable.
- Training Boss: Dotty. He's the very first person you fight in the whole game and gives you a (rather Engrishy) rundown of how Monster Battles are fought, with Nayuta chiming in to elaborate.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: A criticism oft laid on this game. It does depart from the usual Tournaments and only-one-monster of most previous game, and is a lot lighter on the simulation aspect of Monster Rancher, but it's a solid entry in the series nonetheless.
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Julio, Tico, and Lambert, if you're into that sort of thing.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Marlene
- You Gotta Have Green Hair: Albert, just look at that crazy do! Petty, Dotty's cohort, is a straight example.
- You Lose At Zero Trust: As in, you lose your monster. If it hates you because, well, you were unnecessarily hard on it it'll run away.