Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is a monster-raising role-playing game for the Nintendo DS developed by TOSE and published by Square Enix. It was released on December 28, 2006 in Japan, November 6, 2007 in North America, and March 14, 2008 in Europe.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is the fourth installment in the long running Dragon Quest Monsters series that made its debut in 1999 on the GameBoy Color. The series is often compared to the much more popular Pokemon series.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker puts you in the role of a young boy hoping to partake in the Monster Scout Tournament. After being assigned a mission to join the tournament by the monster research organization CELL (which is run by the protagonist’s father), he sets out on his adventure to acquire monsters and become the best scouter in the world.
When he visits Domus Isle, he is told that the Monster Scouting Tournament has been postponed, but that this is the perfect time for him to take the scout’s pledge on Infant Isle. As the name would suggest, Infant Isle consists mostly of the weakest monsters in the game. When the protagonist is about to take the pledge on Infant Isle, he meets a young girl named Solitaire, whom is battling a monster that can speak the human language. After scaring it off, he takes the pledge.
The protagonist then returns to Domus Isle to partake in the tournament, which involves the contestants exploring the nearby islands looking for a strange, star-shaped mineral called Darkonium.
The boy heads off to Xeroph Island, which is a desert-themed island. On this island, the boy finds the English-speaking monster from before, but it is injured. Dr. Snap, the operator of the tournament, is able to heal it.
Joker overhears Dr. Snap talking about the Incarnus, a legendary creature. The creature eventually reveals that it is the Incarni, and the boy agrees to give the creature the mark when he wins the tournament. After the boy and the Incarni collect all of the Darkonium and defeat the guardians of each shrine, he wins the tournament. However, Dr. Snap kidnaps the Incarni and plans to use the Darkonium to turn the Incarnus black and open a hole to the Dark World. The boy ascends the volcano that Dr. Snap resides in to stop him.
After defeating Dr. Snap, the protagonist destroys the portal to the Dark World and rescues the Incarni. The boy then heads back to pay his respects to the scout stone on Infant Isle, encountering the Incarni again, where it tells him that he should be prepared for the adventures that they will soon face.
Being a monster raiser, all of the fighting is done by the monsters rather than humans, much like the monster arena in other Dragon Quest games. The player initially starts with only one creature and through the use of intimidation can recruit other monsters to join their team. By winning battles, monster will gain experience points which will increase their level and subsequently will allow them to gain skill points that can then be used to invest in more powerful abilities.
The battles are of the traditional turn based variety. The player has the option to choose, fight, give orders, scout, and flee. The player can only give orders in wild battles, while the Scout battles are AI controlled. The player can assign a battle tactic to give a certain monster a role in a battle. Only three monsters are allowed on field at once, but three substitutions are allowed outside of storage to switch the monsters on the fly.
Unlike the previous Dragon Quest Monsters games, the player can obtain monsters by using the Scout option in battle. When this option is chosen, your monsters will attack the monster you wish to Scout, but instead of dealing damage it will raise a percentage meter which tells how likely it is that that monster will join you; because of this, raising monsters will a strong Attack stat is very important, as it is the only way to attain new ones.
Each monster has at least two base skills which vary from a collection of abilities to base stat enhancements. Each skill contains either four abilities or four tiers of stat boosts which can be obtained by putting skill points that a monster gains from leveling up into them.
In addition to using intimidation to recruit new monsters, the player can also use monster synthesis to turn two existing monsters into a new, and hopefully more powerful, one. Each monster has a positive or negative alignment, or both, and the player will need one of each alignment in order to synthesis a new monster. Once the synthesis has begun they will be able select up to three skills from either parent or from the new monster type that’s being formed. If they select a skill from one of the parents then any skill points that have been given to it will be halved. Skills from the new monster type always start with zero skill points.
Much like other monster-raising games, Dragon Quest Joker puts each of its monsters into a corresponding family, of which there is a total of 8. Each family has specific skills, abilities, stat focuses, and even affects how long it takes to level up and raise a monster.
- Slime – The fastest of the families and strong all around; slimes grow much faster than most monsters.
- Dragon – Very physically strong and known for their breath-based attacks; dragons are the slowest race to raise.
- Nature – These incredibly intelligent creatures use support skills to their fullest. Nature monsters either resemble plants and animals.
- Beast – These fantasy-inspired humanoids are the best at taking and dishing out physical damage.
- Material – Constructs that have come to life; these monsters have some very high defense.
- Demon – These tricksters use their abilities to flip the fight in their favor while having a higher attack and defense.
- Zombie – With high hit points, as any zombie should, these walking cadavers are generally well rounded.
- Incarni – Not much is known of this family, only rumors.
Developed by TOSE, this game is the first in the Dragon Quest Series to feature Wi-Fi. Yuji Hori added new gameplay features such as scouting for monster, Akira Toriyama was responsible for the visuals for the game, and Koichi Sugiyama composed the music.