With the announcement of Pokémon Sun and Moon, I figure we should treat ourselves to a game that similar in style and presentation, albeit tangentially for this article. Over the years there have been many Pokémon clone games. From phone and iOS homages such as Micromon to some more shameless rip-offs like the Robopon series from Sunsoft, each title tries to capture the feel of a Pokémon game but often misses the mark by simply not having the magic.
The large amount of clone games also includes fan-made, custom, region-based titles. Some of them are quite famous, such as the 4-chan projects Pokémon Sage or the nuclear themed Pokémon Uranium, and has spawned several let’s play videos in their own right on YouTube.
The game in question, however, is a full blown, browser-based, MMO titled MonsterMMORPG. Developed by a single Turkish programmer named Furkan Gözükara, MonsterMMORPG is basically a text-heavy, browser-based Pokémon game, complete with a massive list of 2000 monsters to capture and train, and hundreds of moves, abilities, and even maps to find and fight other players in both PvP and PvE action, all for free.
It would be fair to charge MonsterMMORPG as another Turkish knockoff, but Gözükara has been steadily updating the game since 2009, improving the browser-based gameplay in many respects. One of the biggest problems with the game is the over-use of windows and a rather plain and uninspired interface, riddled with advertisements and pop-up boxes that explain your stats. The barrier of entry is high; however, but in truth, taking away all of the issues with the browser-based gameplay, MonsterMMORPG is more or less a faithful, if somewhat shameless, Pokémon game.
Part of the appeal to these type of games is the creativity fans pour into them. Hundreds of artists on deviantart or tumblr pages showcase their own Pokémon creations, nicknamed “fakemon.” These artists also go a step further sometimes, imitating the art style of Ken Sugimori, creating a fictional region, gym badges, even in-game maps and sprites to showcase their own brand of pocket monsters.
For this niche sub-culture of Pokémon fans, the thrill is the thought experiment in the process, in how do you make a Pokémon visually striking and then the extra mile, create concrete move sets and stats for the creature? MonsterMMORPG has several deviantart artists who have contributed to the game's massive monster roster, each of them given proper credit for their work.
In one sense, the various fakemon designs become the centerpiece of MonsterMMORPG. While their images are forever static, as the only sprite-based gameplay is your in-character avatar on a GBA-styled map, the designs become the lasting impression of MonsterMMORPG. If there is one reason to even try the game out, it is to just go through the motions encountering, capturing, and training a set of custom-made fakemon, and see how many you can get.
Another major factor that propels MonsterMMORPG is the depth of the game's own system, although it suffers from being overly complicated. All Pokémon types, minus fairy, are present, with a custom-made type, the Light type, added. The game also has base IV stats, classifying all of the fakemon into several distinct categories of growing power. So regular monsters are run of the mill, low powered creatures followed by superior and emissary-classed monsters, while zeniths and legendaries make up the most powerful fakemon in the game stat-wise.
Because of the 2000+ monsters in the game, MonsterMMORPG has more or less flooded each game map. On average, each map can contain at least 30 fakemon on it, including legendary monsters that will be difficult to catch. The monsters also have 148 different natures and 207 abilities to their name, offering a wildly inconsistent amount of stat combinations that each monster may have. This also makes PvP much more nerve-wracking, forcing a lot of strategy by carefully selecting your monster team. Unlike the constant balancing found in Pokémon, MonsterMMORPG is a bit more chaotic, foregoing any bans or tier lists entirely.
For the masochists out there, the anything goes format in MonsterMMORPG can be a welcome change. Since PvP is a major selling point in any Pokémon-style game, formulating a winning strategy to effectively steamroll your opponents, a degree of freedom to create a winning team combination that is not found in the Pokémon games due to self-imposed or official restrictions. This makes MonsterMMORPG a “hardcore” game in a sense—an unfair, sometimes plodding affair if you are not ready for the whole experience.
In truth, the shortcomings of MonsterMMORPG in its over-design and stat-based gameplay will likely deter a large amount of people from playing the game. As a constant work in progress, MonsterMMORPG is a game in constant alpha, ever changing stats and items, moves, and experience gain. The constant imbalance of the gameplay is a harder pill to swallow, and even the charisma of the fakemon designs might not be enough to invest some time in a game that is rough to play.
For the hardcore few, the people willing to try, despite its massive flaws, MonsterMMORPG is a good alternative to tide players over. Ultimately, as a free browser-based game, MonsterMMORPG will never be a massive seller or popular choice, but it also doesn’t have to be. For some, the thrill of the game is simply catching, training, and battling hundreds of fakemon for a few hours a day, recreating that feel Pokémon gives you when you first boot up a new title.
Perhaps that is the ultimate appeal of these fakemon games—the feel of them pays homage to the Pokémon franchise. It is a feeling that Pokémon fans can attest to, the thrill of finding some new monster to capture, train, and trade with. It is a feeling that even fakemon games, like MonsterMMORPG, can imitate albeit for a brief moment, until Nintendo bestows a new title for fans to enjoy. After 20 years, it is clear the Pokémon franchise is never going away, with games like MonsterMMORPG, helping to fill that void for hardcore Pokémaniacs out there, despite its major flaws and faults.
So I hope you enjoyed this entry in the GYNHO series. Might actually get more of these really obscure, fan-made styled games in here, but what do you think? You want more unusual games like this out there featured? Leave your comments below or contact me on twitter @LinksOcarina and let me know!