Imagine if you put concepts from Pokémon, Digimon, Monster Rancher, and Dragon Quest Monsters all together in a blender and added just a hint of unique flair and some quality of life changes, the result would likely resemble a game like Disc Creatures.
Disc Creatures is a monster taming RPG or “mongame” as many fans prefer to use now developed by Picorinne Soft and published by Dangen Entertainment. In Disc Creatures, your character is taking the first steps to become a “DiscR” short for Disc Ranger, who uses the titular creatures to battle others and help solve various problems throughout the world.
Like most “mongames,” you choose your starting creature at the beginning, but this time it’s a little different. Instead of choosing one out of three possible choices, you choose three out of five, and since battles are three on three, you have a starting team rather than a single starting monster. Similar to Monster Rancher, creatures are obtained from discs you get although they have to be installed to your DiscKid via a PC before you can use them in battle. Discs can either be given to you, gained through a gacha mechanic, or won after a battle. Not every wild creature you defeat will give you a disc, although using the hi-res memory item will increase the chance it does. Wild creatures can also appear in several different ways including on land or in whirlpools, the latter of which requires a special item to lure them out.
As mentioned earlier, most battles are three on three besides a few early ones, similar to most games in the Dragon Quest Monsters series. Each creature can use one of three different moves they have, and when they learn newer moves you have to decide what you want to switch out, but you can do this anywhere outside of battle via the move changer. All moves cost a certain amount of energy, so you’re in trouble if you run out. Luckily, creatures can also take a turn to e-charge instead of using one of their moves. While e-charge restores a large amount of energy, if the charging monster gets hit when it’s charging then the attack they’re hit with will be critical, so you have to be more methodical about your strategy and take your creatures’ speed into account, but this can also be beneficial when an opposing creature is charging. Specific items can also be used to recharge energy as a low-risk alternative. A little bit of energy also charges after each battle. Each battle is divided into rounds and after each monster takes a turn the next round will commence and it continues until one side has been defeated. Like most other monster games, there are also type strengths and weaknesses with 12 different types, although the system isn’t as conventional as you might expect. For example, fire is weak to wind and electric is weak to ice, so it can take a moment to understand which types have an advantage over others.
Creatures also have different skills that can help them in battle, such as Flamorbs immunity to Dark. It’s difficult to know what skills creatures have in the beginning unless they activate every battle, but you can always check each creature outside of battle so you can see if and how their skill will affect your battles.
Once you find a certain building, you’re given a compendium. Not only does this compendium have information about creatures you’ve already obtained, but it will show you all available creatures in a previously explored area, their rarity, and how they can be encountered if necessary. This can be helpful when you want a creature but aren’t sure where to get it, as you don’t have to capture one before learning where they’re located.
While evolution isn’t present, you’re introduced to an alternative concept known as fusion. Fusion consists of combining two creatures into one by using a recipe, but you only need to discs of the necessary creatures, so it’s good to have multiple copies of the same creature when fusions consist of more common creatures.
Unlike other similar games, Disc Creatures is divided into episodes for the main quests, which each have you explore an area and battle a boss at the end while encountering new creatures and other DiscRs on the way. Bosses become more difficult as you progress through each episode, so it’s better to experiment rather than stick with the same team, although when switching out creatures it’s best to level them up a bit before putting them up against a boss. Even then, defeating a boss can be harder than it looks even when you’re aware of their moves and weaknesses. As of writing, I’m at the end of Episode 2. My first team managed to take out the boss but was defeated by the minions, while my current team is strong against all of them but still need to gain a few more levels before they can deal enough damage. If you’re fighting a boss or another DiscR and feel like the battle is taking too long, you can use the Surrender! item to end the battle. You’ll end up losing still, but it’ll at least give you the advantage of knowing what you’re up against the next time you face that adversary.
Something notable about Disc Creatures is that PCs aren’t only in Cafes (similar to a Pokémon Center), but there is also at least one somewhere in each area, which serve as welcome save points, although you can already save anywhere, the PC adds extra benefits with all of its functions. Another notable feature is that creatures can’t use items twice in a row, which helps makes the game a little more challenging. While items can be found, given, won from battle, and purchased at shops, obtaining the money needed to stock up is more challenging than it other games, since that early on you aren’t given much and most items cost more than you have.
Disc Creatures also has a stellar soundtrack that perfectly encapsulates the best of Game Boy music. I’d even go so far as to say the soundtrack has close to an Undertale level of quality. I just wish the tracks were able to have the same kind of memorability because Disc Creatures would likely be getting more attention from both players and media as a whole.
For retro-inspired monster RPGs, Disc Creatures is as close to perfect as they come. There are a few minuscule flaws, but they can be easily overlooked. It’s the biggest problem at the moment seems to be its PC exclusivity and lack of coverage. I highly recommend Disc Creatures to any fan of mon games and looking to try out something other than Pokémon. Since it’s not graphically intensive, most modern computers should be able to run it just fine. Maybe one day it could even see a release on Nintendo Switch alongside some of its influences.