Master of Monsters
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|Master of Monsters|
|Genre(s)||Turn-based strategy game|
|Distribution||1 cartridge (Mega Drive/Genesis)|
Master of Monsters is a turn-based strategy game created by Japanese software developer System Soft (now System Soft Alpha) for the MSX and NEC PC8801 later ported to a variety of consoles and PCs including the PC Engine, NEC PC9801, Sega Mega Drive (Genesis), Sega Saturn and PlayStation. While it never garnered the same success as its System Soft stablemate Daisenryaku, the game has garnered a loyal following over the years. Its success in the US market on the Sega Genesis proved sufficient for a sequel on the Sega Saturn and an anime art-style enhanced PlayStation version titled "Disciples of Gaia" with a Japanese RPG feel.1
Today, System Soft Alpha has returned the game to its strategy-based roots, and the 2 titles (I, and "Final" – but not II) in the Master of Monsters series as originally popularized on the NEC 9801 PC were updated by System Soft Alpha with new graphics and gameplay features. Two more sequels (3 and 4) were made for Japanese Windows and harken back to the deep strategic gameplay of the NEC PC9801 versions (as opposed to the more casual Genesis and PlayStation versions). Available for Japanese language Windows-based systems, the remakes include マスターオブモンスターズIII Special Edition, マスターオブモンスターズ4 ～光と闇の争覇～, Master of Monsters Value Edition (the original game, updated and with expansion packs added in), and 真・マスターオブモンスターズ Final. There was also a spin-off of the game targeted towards the younger audience titled Masumon Kids, and there is now a cell-phone based version of the game available for the popular cell phone game market in Japan. 
Gameplay involves the player (or multiple players) summoning and moving monsters around a board in order to capture towers and eventually defeat the computer or human controlled opponents. Moves are based on a hexagonal board structure, such that every tile on the board is adjacent to six other tiles. Other notable features involved the large variety of monsters, upgrading ("leveling up") of veteran units, and perhaps most importantly, the control of a "Master" character who, if killed, can end the game for that player.
The focus of the game is strategic, despite the fantasy-type characters that might imply an RPG element. Other than the existence of the Master character and magic in the game, the gameplay is very similar to System Soft's more hardcore modern warfare strategic wargame series Daisenryaku, with the exception that some versions of the Master of Monsters (such as Master of Monsters – Final) series allow equippable items, weapons and armor.
The Sega Mega Drive / Genesis version had a surprisingly sophisticated soundtrack for its hardware and may be recognized as one of the best soundtracks for that system. It was composed by Hayato Matsuo.
There exists a bug within the Sega Genesis version of the game that can be exploited to essentially guarantee a win. One of the tiles on the bottom row of the screen can be occupied and when it is, no monster but those owned by the player sitting on the tile can move during their turn. A computer controlled monster can theoretically land on the tile, preventing players from moving their monsters as well, but this is a rare occurrence and is typically followed by the creature moving onward toward its targeted opponent next turn, resulting in only one turn lost to players involved.
The game Lords of Chaos by Julian Gollop of Mythos Games predates Master of Monsters by one year, shares many of the same elements of summoning and tactics, and may be an inspiration, along with the earlier title Chaos from 1985. David White, creator of the Open Source Turn-based strategy game, Battle for Wesnoth cites Master of Monsters as an inspiration. Master of Monsters has also been compared to later games such as the role-playing video game series Pokémon (which also revolves around commanding monsters) and the real-time strategy game Starcraft.
- WesnothPhilosophy – Wesnoth
- "Top 10 Renovation Games". IGN. June 17, 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
Developer's Website: System Soft Alpha Japan