Dragon Quest Monsters initially began as Enix's answer to Pokemon. However, since it's beginnings on the Gameboy, it has grown into so much more than just a Pokemon clone. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker has its own spin on the "gotta catch'em all" philosophy. First of all, rather than using "pokeballs", you must impress Monsters using your Scout abilities to get them to join you. The higher rank the monster is, the more powerful your team must be to impress it. Second, your team consists of 3 primary monsters and 3 backup monsters. During battle, you are allowed to have out 3 monsters, but you cannot switch to your backups during battle, making for some difficult fights. Monsters level up in the style of Dragon Quest 8, where you gain skill points in addition to stat boosts that you can allocate as you see fit to the monster's skills. Monsters can use spells and abilities just like in the regular Dragon Quest games. Third, rather than breeding monsters, monsters are synthesized to create new breeds of monsters.
The main difference between this game and the regular Dragon Quest series is that rather than have random monster encounters, you can actually see the monsters on the field. This is great because you don't have to go through the guesswork of having to encounter the monster you want as you do in Pokemon. You can just walk around until you see it, then run up to it! Personally I like being able to see the monsters before I fight them so I don't have to waste time looking for certain ones. Also, the monsters respawn at a fairly rapid rate, so you don't have to worry about running out of monsters to fight when leveling up. An interesting part of this is that as you explore, you may notice certain strange objects in the area. These are actually indicators of rare monsters that may show up in that area. For instance on an early level, you walk by a campfire and some giant stones that look like dumb-bells. If you come back, you might encounter a Gigantes in that area!
As if that were not enough, Dragon Quest Monsters Joker also has an online battle portion where you pit your team against other teams on a regional, national or global scale to find out who's the best. Unlike other games where your only reward is bragging rights, this game has in game rankings and you earn items and monsters for each victory!
Dragon Quest Monsters offers solid gameplay on par with the main Dragon Quest series. With over 200 monsters to choose from, excellent online play and a great storyline, this is one game that is not to be missed!