Monster Rancher

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Note: If you're looking for the anime of the series, go here.

How can you describe Monster Rancher? Take the Mons fad of the late Nineties and early Noughties. Throw it into a simulation/management game. Add an action-oriented battle system unlike just about anything else out there, a unique method of obtaining monsters, and some truly unforgiving gameplay. Put it all in a blender and press "puree." Season to taste with a few odd RPG elements, and you have the Monster Rancher series in a nutshell. [1]

Monster Rancher (known as Monster Farm in Japan) is a console and handheld RPG franchise that combines the heart-pounding battling action and cute critters of a Mons series with the strategy and challenge of a simulation and management game. The premise of most games? You (yes, you, the player) have recently become a "monster breeder"--someone who raises and trains monsters to, well, do what monsters generally do--to fight. Monster battles are an extremely popular sport, and there's good money in raising strong monsters and winning lots of battles. You have a farm or ranch (as the title implies), and every week, you and your monster engage in some activity. You can train them by putting them through exercise routines, go battle, and, occasionally, go on adventures to various regions. The ultimate goal? To Be a Master and win the ultimate cup of the game, whatever that may be. But nothing lasts forever, and eventually, your epic monster will grow old--you must either retire them, or "fuse" them into a new, baby monster and start again. Although a few games have deviated from the basic formula slightly (most strikingly, Monster Rancher Evo which is one long Unexpected Gameplay Change), but in every Monster Rancher game, you know you'll find certain traits.

The series has gained some renown among gamers for its extremely unique means of obtaining monsters: Rather than running out and catching them, as is the case in most Mons series, you create monsters from "saucer stones." And what are saucer stones? Ordinary CDs and DVDs! By reading something known as "subcode data" off of CDs, games in the Monster Rancher franchise create monsters from pretty much any disc you can stuff into your Playstation. When the series progressed to the Game Boy Advance, it switched to using "passwords" (simple combinations of letters and numbers). And when the series went to the Nintendo DS, it got three new methods of monster creation: Sound (by using the DS microphone), drawings (using the DS touchscreen), and, in a nod to the originals, by reading the data found on GBA carts in the DS's GBA slot.

Despite its semi-famous gimmick, though, Monster Rancher itself remains something of a cult series, at least in America. (It's pretty well known in its native Japan, though.) It did spawn its own late-90's anime series, though, and it did air stateside. If you're looking for a brainier Mons game, you could do worse than this series--Monster Rancher Advance 2 is recommended if you're a total newbie, as it's relatively forgiving compared to other Monster Rancher games.

And it's still only relatively. Another thing about Monster Rancher games? They're hard. Really hard. This is partially due to their depth--despite looking fairly simple, there's a lot that goes on in the background. There are, in fact, entire websites dedicated to plumbing their depths. Here's a pretty good one should you happen to need one. And you most likely will--trust me.

Monster Rancher isn't a series to everyone's taste, unlike say, Pokémon, but if you get into them, they're actually quite rewarding. There's nothing quite as satisfying as beating an enormous fire-spewing, skeletal white dragon with an adorable, pink-fuzz-covered little girl-monster called a "Pixie."

Monster Rancher Evo, Monster Rancher Hop-A-Bout and Monster Rancher Battle Card Game now have their own pages.


The games provide examples of:
  • Action Commands: They're not quite standard "action commands," but the battle system is action-oriented without the games being full-on action-RPGs.
  • After the End: In the distant past, there was a horrible disaster that caused the gods to send down monsters to help people. Some monster descriptions (especially in 2) suggests that the "ancient age" was, in fact, our own. Other games, however, don't seem to have this, and are just set in an Anachronism Stew world of their own.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Fleria, the assistant from 3, was aged for the US release.
    • The more typical cover art variation appears too. The most noticeable is for Monster Ranchers 4. The Japanese cover is cute, bright, and colorful - just the protagonist running with an array of monsters. The American cover has a Suezo glaring intensely at us with a blocky picture of the protagonist and some monsters in his eye, set to a black background.
  • Art Evolution: Some of the monster's designs have changed so many times, it's hard to figure out which is the "canonical" version. Many monsters have gone through an art shift or two, but there are some standouts:
    • Mew: Its original form had a much smaller head, looked as much like a bear as it did a cat, and was called "Nya." Later games flip-flopped between just how "plush" it was--it went from "not very plush at all" (such as in 3 and Advance 2) to having a gingham pattern, and its button eyes fluctuated between designs.
    • Plant: The Plant originally had three flower heads, with a much different, 3-petaled design, as well as a mouth on its torso with no lips. Later Plants had just one, giant flower, with five petals and lips on its body-mouth.
    • Golem: You wouldn't think that you could do much to change a giant rock monster, but both its "connectedness" and its head have changed a lot. Golems have ranged from having a very humanoid, Egyptian mask-like face to a simple, flat rock with eyes on it, to many in-betweens. In some games, the rock parts of its limbs visibly float apart, while it others, it's fully connected unless it's doing a special attack.
    • Color Pandora: Originally depicted as one big caterpillar, with the three "parts" of it only splitting up for certain attacks. It had small noses and more generally "cute" faces. The version in 3 split it up into three parts, and was even cuter, with no noses at all. Later games gave them huge noises, and significantly cut back on the cute.
    • Joker: Quite possibly the most variable one of the lot, the Joker changed almost completely from its first incarnation--where it was fully corporeal, and had a Monster Clown face--to its second, where it became a floating spirit with Raymanian Limbs and a blank mask face. Then that changed into a fierce, floating humanoid head.
  • Art Shift: Monster Rancher 3 was the first entry to drastically redesign the monsters' appearance, skewed towards Kawaisa. Perhaps best represented by the Jells, which went from humanoid slimes to 'cuddly' balls of goo.
  • Artificial Stupidity: In any battle where your monster is forced to "fight for itself," without your instructions--well, let's just say you'll swear they were never that dumb when you were training them. Therefore, it's always the mandatory way to give your monster advice during battles. Unfortunately, that doesn't occur when it is in an errantry facing a wild monster. You'll just have to pray that your monster gets the upper hand in defeating it and in time, since there's a hidden time limit dictating the fight and if it runs out, your monster loses the battle by count out regardless if its life bar is more than the opponent's.
    • Controlling the monster in Errantry in the DS game is horrible. You click 50 times in the same spot and then, for some reason, it decides to go in the opposite direction.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Due to their high cost and frequently low accuracy, super-powerful moves tend to be a lot less effective overall than smaller moves used more frequently.
  • Awesome but Practical : Lots of example. High level moves with good accuracy is textbook example, particularly those that cost ranges at 40-45. Heavy, hard hitting moves with low guts cost is another good example. However the best example has to be the moves with C damage rating(above average) and A or S hit rate usualy with guts cost at range of 28 - 35. These moves hits rather hard and hits often making it a good choice to spam, and most of them looks pretty nice(Kato blows 2 tornado on the field for example).
    • For a specific example, Tiger's Blizzard in most games. It looks cool, being Tigers ultimate/signature move, but it costs rather low and has a good hit rate, damage and critical hit ratio. A lot of huge monsters have lots of these as well to balance their lower guts regen. Golem in the second game, for example, has a move that deals B class damage with B hit rate while only costing 26 in guts.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: Various games across the series have had translation quirks, but the standout is probably Battle Card for the Game Boy--the whole thing is a mess of pea-souper Engrish, with lines such as this, this, and this.
  • Body Armor Color Dissonance: In official art, and in the Game Boy Advance games, Zans are depicted as being a teal color (and in the GBA games, even create dark teal hybrids). However, in the console games, Zans and their hybrids are black! We don't get it either.
  • Boring but Practical: Consequently, spamming your opponent with many smaller moves can be more effective than trying to pull off big ones. The downside of this is if you miss a lot, or if you can't KO the enemy fast enough(a common occurence since smaller moves tend to be weaker), you will give a lot of bonus hit rate and damage to your opponent thanks to how the battle system works: your opponent gets a hit rate and damage bonus whenever your monster uses a move, while your monster suffers a hit rate and damage penalty.
    • Withering tactics. Using guts burning moves to make your opponent unable to attack or only able to attack with low class moves. Combined with enough speed and skill, this is probably one of the most annoying and effective playstyles as a whole.
  • Blood Knight: Jokers often ask you to participate in fights, and enjoy it thoroughly.
  • Bonus Boss : Lots. There are monsters that come from bonus tournaments after becoming Master rank, secret matches, post credit battles, unlocked monsters, and more. However the second game is still the king of this trope. There's the enemy class monsters from errantry(Rank A and S) and Legend Cup (the infamous Most and White Suezo). The IMA vs FIMBA match is notable since it's not only hardest in the entire game, it's also the most Guide Dang It.
  • Brother Chuck: Unlike Pokemon, which adds old monsters to new ones, Monster Rancher shuffles its cast around, with some monsters vanishing (and others suddenly reappearing after a long absence). With 71 total breeds and only about 20-30 coded into each game, odds are that your favorite monster won't be available in a new game, unless you happen to like only the mascots Suezo, Tiger, Mocchi, Pixie, Hare, and Golem.
    • Quite possibly the most bizarre case of this is Advance 1--Hare, considered the most popular monster in Japan and one of the series' staples, wasn't present! It was back good as new for Advance 2, though.
  • Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: the Tiger is a blue wolf with horns, not feline at all.
    • Further confusion stems from the Japanese name of Hare. There, it's called "Ham," short for Hamster. But even its early designs (before the name was scrapped) were still clearly a rabbit!
  • The Cameo: By using other Tecmo games as spawners, you can unlock monsters modeled after Ardebaran, Miku Hinasaki, Doctor Dance from Unison, Kasumi, and many others.
    • Holly, the first game's breeder's assistant, appears as a monster breeder herself in the second game to fight you on a certain event that unlocks other monsters.
  • Cap: Your monster's stats usually cap at 999. In newer games, they can go as high as 2000, but your monster's stats then have a combined stat cap.
  • Chekhov's Gun, doubles with Chekhov's Gunman. Ragnaroks(Dragon + Monol) card lore in the second game which is as follow "They say the ancient culture might have been destroyed by it". Like every other card lore, it seems unimportant until it is used in Advance 2 as a fairy tale from Zest's book as a part of an event which is only alvailable if your monster is Angel(Pixie + Gali). Later in the game, you have to face the Ragnaroks itself as a Bonus Boss with an Angel to stop it from doing the same to the modern day's culture.
    • The Dragon family seems to have a knack to this tropes. Moo, the Big Bad of the anime series is from Dragon family that appears in second game. It also appears in Monster Rancher EVO as the Final Boss, and its the goal of the enemy to revive Moo, albeit its appearance resembles Death Dragon from the second game than Moo.
  • Cherry Tapping: And how.
  • Clone Degeneration: Sueki Suezo in 2 dies after only one week, and is stated to be a man-made monster based on Suezo.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: "That move only had a 25% chance of hitting! How'd he pull it off three times in a row?!"
  • Continuing Is Painful: Although you won't necessarily get kicked out of a tournament if your monster is KO'd (unless it's explicitly a tier-style tournament), your monster may get severely injured if it's KO'd.
    • In the first game in the series, if you had low enough will when receiving a blow of sufficient power, your monster could die in the ring.
  • Continuity Nod: Lots of references to earlier games in the series pop up throughout the games, and species that haven't been heard from in several games may suddenly be referenced (or even become available) again.
    • One of the step to unlock Advance 2 Phoenix is unlocked by getting 5 orbs by raising 5 specific species of monster and do a specific things with them. Those 5 monster are the protagonist of the anime referencing their role as a part of the phoenix.
    • EVO's Exposition Fairy is Bajarl--a monster who hasn't been seen since MR 2 on the original PlayStation.
    • In the first Monster Rancher Advance game, you can get a White Mocchi by using the password "Most"--the name of the infamous White Mocchi Bonus Boss in 2. Same case with Pabs from Master Pabs the owner of Most.
    • Tesla produce White Suezo, as a nod to Poritoka, the Bonus Boss in 2 at the same match as Most.
    • Ragnaroks just Ragnaroks
  • Creepy Doll: Wracky from 2. The first time you get it, your trainer not only is freaked out by its appearance but is quite disapproving of its character. Even better, she names it Charles, a Shout-Out to Childs Play.
  • Crutch Character: Exaggerated (and possibly parodied) with Sueki Suezo in 2. It has maxed out life and defense, one speed point, and other stats that are awesome for a monster straight from the disc. It dies in a week.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The Pixies.
  • Dance Battler
  • Darker and Edgier: The plot of MR4 addresses the problem of monsters being abused, mistreated and experimented on. Your trainer has a Dark and Troubled Past, and so does your assistant Rio. Then there's her visions of monsters being crucified by an evil army.
    • Ironically, MR 4 actually does away with the death feature despite being Darker and Edgier. Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing...
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Rio, your assistant in MR4.
  • Difficult but Awesome: There are some monsters that despite having ridiculously low numbers in certain stats and low stat gains, they with lots of patience and correct methods, can become incredibly powerful in their own right in battles. Examples include Monol, Undine, Niton, Metalner, and Wracky.
    • Another good example is Colorpandora in second game. Its only has 2 generic combination which means its hard to tweak its stats growth, and no monster can has its sub breed which means no stats tweaking for some easy combination results. Its stats is bad in every area except for Life, Skill, and Speed and lifetype means its going to raise its stats slowly. At the same time, it has ridiculously good movepool that covers almost every area you would want it to covers and said area where its good at are the area where you want a monster to excel. At the same time, it has humongous lifespan.
    • Another example from 2 is the starting seasonal Market monsters. Mocchi are a defensive god with average stats, but bad movepool. Zuum are completely balanced except for its Inteligence. Suezo ? Its stats are geared towards Glass Cannon yet it has not many powerful moves on Intelligence area where it excels(it has average Power). Hare are noted below a Glass Cannon, which was plain harder to raise. Arrowheads are Stone Wall to its core, but unlike most example, it dont has the sheer offensive power that other simmilar monsters has and its starting stats are notably worse than the other monsters. Gaboo are yet another Glass Cannon that is less fragile than Hare thanks to its high Lif.
    • The awesome part ? Unlike other starting monster, they are more specialized which means its easier to gain stats in the place where you want it. All of them has notably better movepool than Mocchi(horrendous) and Zuum(Jack of All Stats in movepool form), Suezo is geared towars Gradual Grinder, Hares has tons of highly damaging moves, Arrowheads movepool are, to put it simply ideal in every area, and Gaboos has tons of powerful moves(so much that it is the posterboy of That One Attack in the game). Also, theres nothing stopping you from combining them, which gets pretty abusable especialy with Suezo, whose combination with Zuum and vice versa if you know what youre doing means that you can create an InfinityPlusOneMonster really early for a pretty huge amount of the alvailable monster.
    • Dragon. There's a REALLY good reason that it is considered as one in-universe. Massive offensive stats, but REALLY bad attitude and Guts regenerations. Not to mention a terribly short lifespan. In a sense, it is the hardest monster to train because of this.
    • The game in general. If you knew how to get past the Guide Dang It and know the correct method and set ups, the game become ridiculously easy to abuse and complete.
  • Dump Stat : Averted in earlier game. All stats has a use no matter what your monster and its playstyle is, and you can max them anyway(at least in earlier game). The closest example might be int or pow for monster that don't need them and def or spd. However the former stats also increases defense, the latter is a useful defensive stats. All things considered, defense(pow and int increases defense indirectly) and speed(when attempting pure Mighty Glacier) is this.
    • Some of the later games have stats cap, making those example a common Dump Stats mostly speed (since skill, lif and one side of offensive stats are commonly the favored stats, the advantage of having speed is neutralized and having balanced offense a risky choice thanks to commonly maxed lif and having low defense is just risky since skill and offensive stats is favored)
    • This can happen in earlier game as well. An explorer monster only needs defensive stats for battling until it reach the appropriate rank(with some lluck and offensive stats, its actualy possible to ignore them completely). After that, put your stats to power until the point where you can handle every obstacle and put the rest in int and lif.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Monster Rancher Explorer, a GB spinoff game, "previewed" several species of monster before they showed up in the main series: Octopee, Gitan, Pancho, Psyroller/Rhinoroller, and Suzurin.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first Monster Rancher game features Dinos instead of Zuums, a strange design for the Mew (here called Nya), and no Mocchis... among other things, like training taking the form of odd jobs and errands that earn you money. It's rather bizarre in comparison to other games in the series.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Cleo in DS--Call her "Cleopatra" and die.
    • Ditto with Colt in 2 (her full name being Coltia) and Cue in the Battle Card spinoff (her full name being Curie).
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Hares are... giant rabbits. Giant rabbits of adorable cuddly death.
  • Expy: Quite rampant in the early days of the series. A few of the more "redundant" monsters seem to have been resigned to the "obsolete" bin due to their expy nature, though a Continuity Nod or two will reference them again. In particular:
    • The Zuums replaced the Dinos in every non-spinoff game since the first. Spinoffs still used them, but as of Monster Rancher 4, it seems to have been Ret Conned to a subtype of Zuum.
    • The Undine is essentially a watery expy of the Pixie, with no wings and a Jell-like body. Both are also Cute Monster Girls. Since the Pixie is one of the Big 6, it stayed around while the Undine has been somewhat forgotten. (In fact, there's an ordinary Pixie subspecies called Undine now.)
    • The Beaklon and the Worm are both brown insects with big horns, while the Worm is more "larval." In fact, it was possible to carefully raise your Worm to become a Beaklon in MR2. They also tend to create similar styles of subbreeds. The newer Beaklon has remained while the old Worm has only popped up in the online games.
  • Fartillery: The Hares have a "Gas" attack that does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Bakus also have the "Foul Wind" attack, which... well, you know. Also, the Apes have their "Blast" attacks that are even more dead-on than the Hares' version.
  • Final Death
  • Flying Seafood Special: Ogyos can fly gracefully through the air.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Tigers, though their fragility varies with the game you're playing. And to a lesser extent, Hares, and exclusively to 2, Kato. Then there's Hopper.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Any monster that has attacks named "Beam", "Ray", or any other name variant. Mocchi's Ray/Beam/Cannon and Suezo's Eye Beam are clear-cut examples.
  • Fur Bikini: The Pixies.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: A sort of meta-example in DS. In all the previous games, the idea has always been: Even if you're training a Gali, Monol, or Magic--which are supposedly gods in human form--you have to train hard and work a lot to get a truly butt-whooping monster. Then the DS game introduces the Xenon species, which is better at everything and can dominate with its basic attacks due to their high damage, accuracy, and Guts drop rates. Sorry, Gali...
    • The game as a whole, though is a total aversion of this, especialy in the earlier installment. The effect of knowledge of the game system and learning curve is really apparent and taken to another level. So much that in the second PSX game(one of the harder one), when a clueless begginer and intermidiate player played the game for several years in game time and spent a lot of time to beat the game(read : Major Four and Legend Cup) and fail or barely manage to do it and usualy ending with a mon with rather dissapointing stats and cap at 3 years even with long lasting species, An expert can do the same in ONE day and at the same time producing a monster that only fails to reach the stats Cap of 1-2 stats that last 5-6 year. Yes, its THAT ridiculous
  • Game Breaking Bug: DS (the translated version of Japan's DS 2) seems to be positively riddled with them. Most of them are freezing bugs, which are nasty since resetting the game incurs massive monster penalties--the most peculiar of which involves monsters finding textureless white items during the Kawrea Volcano errantry. But one Magic Spel glitch can prevent you from combining monsters forever. Ouch.
  • Genius Bruiser: Dragons have very high attack and intelligence, balanced out by sub-par speed, very slow guts regenartion, an extremely short lifespan, and a bad attitude.
  • Genre Shift: Monster Rancher Evo, which was much closer to a standard RPG (with, uh, rhythm game elements) than a simulation game (which Monster Ranchers traditionally are).
  • Glass Cannon: The Hares--they have high speed and physical attack, but their average HP and "exceptional" Defense are... lacking. On 2, Katos are intteligence version of hare. In fact, a lot of smaller monster are this, having nice attack power but lousy defense. Suezo has nice attack and int, and skill but lacking in speed, defense and lif
    • However thanks to the defense calculating system, a monster can't become a pure Glass Cannon. Essentialy, power and int takes a lot of part for reducing damage taken, maybe even more than defense. This translates into Hare becoming Lightning Bruiser against power based mon and Kato becoming the same for intelligence.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The card entry for the Kasumi (Pixie/???) monster says "Its breasts tend to get more attention than its battles". Could possibly averted by the fact that the first Dead of Alive game, which is required to get the monster in the first place, is rated M .
  • God: Oddly enough. He appears only in the backstory, however; a disaster struck the world, the people called for help, and the monsters of the game were the result. Then the monsters only caused more problems, so God, exasperated, sealed them away in disc stones.
  • Gonk: The current design for the Colorpandora is far less cute then its two previous designs. Although, some people find them to be Ugly Cute.
  • Good Bad Translation: Some of the series' less-good translations over the years have gone on to become classics. "Durahan" is an example of Japanese Ranguage, but calling the monster "Dullahan" (after the actual mythological creature it's based on) would just feel... wrong. Similarly, the Hare/Pancho cross has been called "Jackoranta" since its first appearance, even if that has the same problem.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Color Pandora often attack by throwing one of their segments at an enemy. A lot of their attacks do recoil damage too, making them risky.
  • Guide Dang It: Has its own subpage for them. The games make you think they seem accessible to a casual gamer, but when you're about to get started, you'll soon realize that they aren't Pokemon.
  • Happy Birthday to You: In 2, Colt comes up with various... uh... "creative" birthday songs for your monster. The monster doesn't always approve.
    • In DS, it's worth noting, the devs got away with using the lyrics to Happy Birthday, but not the melody.
  • Happy Fun Ball: Lots of monster species fall into this category.
    • The Mew is just a stuffed kitty brought to life...with wolverine claws. One of its attacks involve shacking a rattle in front of an enemy with one paw as a distraction before stabbing him in the face with the other.
    • The Ducken is a children's wooden block toy in the shape of a duck. It tends to fall apart when it's disappointed.
    • The Doodle is a living stick figure. It attacks by blowing up its own head, summoning giant stiletto heels from the sky to stomp on its opponents, and by running them over with a chicken on wheels. No, really.
    • The Monol is even better. It's a giant floating faceless rectangular slab of rock.
    • The Gali is a cape with an Aztec sun mask for a face. It is also able to create psychic projections of limbs for physcal attacks.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Justified, as the protagonist in most of the games is supposed to be you, the player.
    • And your Mons are nameable too. Which can cause abuse and giggles, like with Colt, your assistant in 2 saying things like "My butt is well".
  • Holiday Mode: DS uses this with a weird combination of Video Game Time. In the in-game week that would correspond to your real-world birthday, you'll get a free gift--so if your birthday was August 25th, you'd get a present in the fourth week of August.
  • Hot Librarian: One of the characters in MR 4 tries to invoke this (she claims her boss likes it when she dresses that way).
  • Idle Animation: Very nice "standard" animations for all the monsters, too.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Not only do some monsters attack with things like yodels, walnuts, and bells, but there's an entire species of monster (the Monol) that is pretty much its own improbable weapon.
  • Inconsistent Dub: Is it Ducken or Dakkung? Colorpandora or Koropendora? Zuum or Zoom? To say nothing of the "Mew/Nya" debate, where the fandom is still divided on whether or not they're separate species.
    • In 4, the Ancient Documents you can collect are filled with misspellings and a complete inability to keep the gods' names straight... even in the same entry.
    • Similarly, even in games which use the "Colorpandora" rendition of that particular monster's name, they still tend to use "Koro" to refer to the original monster units (Like the Puppy Koro).
  • Jack of All Stats: Mocchis.
    • Unless its the second installment. To clarify, it has high speed, skill and defense and average everything else, and overall the best stats in the game. Thanks to having 3 above average stats, its definitely not a Jack of All Stats, while its too fast to become Mighty Glacier AND too sturdy to be considered Fragile Speedster. Its more of a defensive god of sorts thanks to having good defensive stats and the hidden mocchi luck factor. Also thanks to this, if Mocchi is combined with say, Dragon, it become a Lightning Bruiser at a cost of its speed being average. The only thing stopping Mocchi from being Game Breaker is its lousy movepool
    • It should be noted, in second installment, Mocchi has, bar none the best stats in the game, number wise. It has good speed, good skill, good defense and average everywhere else, therefore making it too bulky to be a Fragile Speedster while too weak to become Lightning Bruiser(moreso thanks to its bad movepool) making it more of a defensive beast thanks to its high defense and speed and its Luck Factor. However thanks to this, if you combine Mocchi with monster that has good offense stats(notably Dragon), it turns into a straight Lightning Bruiser.
    • Another example from second game, Zuums. Average in everything, bad in intelligence, good in skill and has a +1 bonus in Lif. However theres no hard drill that focused on increasing Skill and Lif to balance this out. This become a litteral example when combined with Suezo or Gali which results in a monster that is average in everything and good in skill.
  • Joke Character: Some Hidden Characters from some games could be considered this, due to their ridicule nature and the fact they never appear again. Since they are sometimes very strong, that makes them Lethal Joke Characters. Particularly Bajarl (a genie like creature), Disk (a living monster disk), Doodle (a living Stick-man) and Wracky (a Chucky-like doll).
  • Kamehame Hadoken
  • Kavorka Mon: The Suezo species is the monster version of this. Everyone in-universe wants one, despite the fact that they're well-acknowledged as selfish and lazy.
  • Killed Off for Real: Your monsters die when they get old. You can't get them back.
    • Averted with the Phoenix species in 2, which just fly away to 'return to nature' whenever they get too old, what with Phoenixes being known for their reincarnation, and all. The effect is pretty much the same, though. They never return.
      • The same might be said for Metalners, except instead of flying off to unknown parts of the planet, they fly back to their home planet.
  • Killer Hare
  • Last Lousy Point: Mention Octochrome to a hardcore Monster Rancher Advance 2 player. Watch the tears start to form.
  • Let's Play: Skillfully done by Mr. Swoon, there's a Let's Play for the first game and the second game, where the main character is an abusive drunk.
  • Limited Move Arsenal: Type 1 for 1 and 2, Type 2 for 3. Averted in the fourth.
  • Lightning Bruiser : Tons of them based on stats growth. Xenon in the DS game are some of the more notable example. Surprisingly, Mocchi is naturally this in the second game. Other than that, combinations can result in this both starting stats wise and stats growth wise.
  • Lost Forever: Unfortunately, due not to programming but to Game Breaking Bugs.
  • Lost in Translation: In Japanese, a particular Dragon is named 'Muu', which means darkness or emptiness. In English, he's named 'Moo'. Yes, after the sound a cow makes.
  • Magikarp Power: Every single monster, more or less.
    • Wracky in 2, especially by this trope's standards. He has pathetic starting stats and is a pain to raise. He can be one of the most lethal Fragile Speedsters in the game if trained right, and he has the longest lifespan in the game.
    • Colorpandora. Pathetic stats, but REALLY good and varied movepool and a long lifespan gave it a huge potential.
  • Mana Drain: Guts drain, actually. Loads of moves use this.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Golem species. Their attack is so high, they can defeat many monsters in one hit--but they're sssssoo ssssslow...
    • Beaklons are pretty much an insect Expy of the Golem. High attack. High Defense. Slow as molasses.
    • Durahans are also incredibly strong and tough, with their horrible speed being their only real weakness. Unlike Golems and Beaclons, they won't miss constantly due to a decent skill stat. They also have longer lifespans and are easier to raise.
  • Mons
  • The Monolith: The Monol race of monsters, a Stock Shout Out to 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Ms. Fanservice: Pixies and the their sub-breeds.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Central to the main plot of 4: Phayne took the fall when his friend Wit broke the school's biggest rule and read the forbidden book. Wit goes on to unseal and revive the ultimate evil.
  • Nintendo Hard: One of the many common complaints among casual gamers, which reduced the series to cult status. They've gotten slightly easier recently. Slightly. The first two Playstation games, however, were absolutely merciless.
  • No Export for You: The first DS game was never released outside Japan. However, thankfully, its sequel was released in August 2010.
    • Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Monster Farm Online, the MMORPG. Even if you go through the trouble of singing up for a Japanese account, you can't play it because it blocks all foreign IPs.
  • No Fair Cheating: Turn off the DS game without saving, and the monster's combining potential will be drastically lowered.
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Oculothorax: Suezo's race.
  • Oddball in the Series: EVO, definitely. The shift towards a more traditional RPG might make sense, but we really don't know what to make of the fact that monsters now gain stats through a rhythm game.
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Monster Rancher Evo. (Which is a Market-Based Title; it was properly numbered 5 in Japan.)
  • Obake: The Baku species, although they don't seem to bear much resemblance to their mythical counterparts. Also, the Ripper species.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The Undine species from Monster Rancher 2 have a rather transparent, Jell-like appearance and can even float in the air. They are similar to Pixies but tend to favor a lot more magical attacks than physical ones.
  • Palette Swap: More or less every monster was this in the Advance games. They all had different stats and growth patterns, though.
  • Pamphlet Shelf: The Ancient Texts in 4 are supposedly ancient books that you can have translated for you. Volumes average two to four 'pages', usually with only one sentence per page.
  • Protagonist Without a Past: Justified. You are the protagonist of most games.
    • In Monster Rancher 4, however, the hero does have a past, which comes into play as you progress.
  • Quicksand Box: Part of what makes the games Nintendo Hard.
  • Rare Candy: In various installments of the game, there are items which are basically steroids: You can stuff your monster full of them to increase their stats, but it greatly decreases their lifespan in the process.
    • The DS game provides a tamer varient with the Ability Fruits. They increase one of your monster's stats by a small amount. However, since they can be found in large amounts on errantries, you can in fact earn some decent stat gains from exploring.
  • Relationship Values
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mocchis, Mews, Lesiones, Suzurins, Panchos, Octopees, and Hares.
  • Rocket Punch : Golems, Arrowheads, and Hengers employ this kind of move. Henger can combine this with This Is a Drill for better result
  • Save Scumming: Trying to raise that perfect monster? You'll find yourself saving and resetting a lot.
    • Try that in Monster Rancher DS, and combined monsters will be much weaker.
  • Schizo-Tech
  • Sequel First: The original Monster Rancher never came out in PAL regions--instead, its sequel, Monster Rancher 2, came out first with the number dropped. This caused certain aspects of the anime and the spinoff games to become cases of Marth Debuted in Smash Bros--the Dino species were MR 1 only.
    • Similarly, the original DS game never came out in English. English-speaking markets got DS 2 instead, with the similarly-dropped number.
  • Serious Business: Justified. Monster battling is a major league sport, with lots of money to be made.
  • Shout-Out: A variation in some games, where certain discs will result in exclusive monsters so close to the title or subject of the disc that it's blatantly intentional. For example, a Dead or Alive game disc creating a Cute Monster Girl based off series heroine Kasumi, or the Rush Hour soundtrack giving a "Kung-Fu Bunny"
    • And you get a living samurai armor suit called a "Shogun" with "Brave Fencer Musashi" in 2.
    • There's a handful of titles that will produce unique monsters. Most of the mons produced from these discs often had names that were obvious puns on the title or artist. Just from the original game you had Gallop from Patti Smith's Horses, Tank from The Clash's Combat Rock and Gooaall! from INXS' Kick.
    • Errick in DS, after Cleo misinterprets his mumbling as talking about a "curse," says a curse might not be so bad: "Black magic woman..."
    • Password system in advance. The system has a special calculation to generate the monster, however sometime this can result in some words resulting in special monster. There's also in game given password that produces special monster that doubles as Shout-Out. For example a variation of Kenshiro's infamous battle cry produces a special Raiden, a martial artist bird species.
  • Silent Scapegoat: MR4 has the hero, who took the blame when one of his friends stole a book of forbidden techniques, and got expelled from the academy over it.
  • Spam Attack : The series has several moves that can upgraded into its higher level version, many of which are this. The second game, instead employs a system where you need to use the same move over and over again until it reach the necesarry number that is required to learn the upgraded version. Essentialy, you need to spam attack to learn a spam attack.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Your assistant in MR4, Rio, can understand monsters. And she was despised by many for this in her childhood.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Pixies, who have very high Intelligence (thus powerful magical abilities), but low Strength, Defense, and Life. They're pretty fast, though.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Errik from DS. More or less the first words out of his mouth? "Definitely not a stalker!"
  • Stone Wall: The Monol species. Both figuratively and literally.
    • Niton from 2 also qualifies, but in a figurative sense, of course.
  • Super Mode : Every game has special status effect that give status modification or special effect to a monster in specific condition. Theres some that is a species exclusive. In the second game, two is alvailable to every species depend on how good/bad they are.
    • Joker's Real status effect is a good example. When you are having a huge advantage(mostly by hitting with your moves several times in a row) Joker get a huge status buff and damage/hit rate/evasion buff to every stats for a limited time. Its also a case of Power-Up Letdown and/or Deadly Upgrade though. When it ends, you get a huge penalty on your stats so much that if it happen early in the match, you might as well forfeit.
  • Tail Slap: Dinos, Suezos, Zuums and Nagas make heavy use of it, and the name predates the Trope Namer from Pokemon.
  • Take That: Using the password "POKEDEAD" at one point in the game adaptation of Monster Rancher Battle Card will give you a special card.
  • Tech Tree
  • To Be a Master
  • [[Too Long; Didn't Dub]]: The Suzurin species' name is a Japanese pun that doesn't particularly translate well into English, so it stays despite not meaning anything in particular in English.
    • For the curious, the pun: The Suzurin is a monster made out of bells, which also happen to make it look like it's wearing a robe. Its overall outfit resembles a Japanese feudal suzeran lord. That's the first part. The second part is that "suzu" is Japanese for "bell," while "rin" is the onomotopoeia for a bell ringing.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Pretty much the entirety of Monster Rancher Evo falls into this category. It changed the training/raising with gadgets to mini-games in a circus. So, now it's up to you the player to determine how well they do by button mashing.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: A number of games, such as 2 and 4, feature special monsters that show up either as wild opponents or bosses. While you can get info on them, you can't use them for yourself. Especially frustrating in 4, because those bosses frequently represent past species, but you can't get them.
  • Use Your Head: So many species of monsters have headbutt attacks, it isn't even funny.
  • Vendor Trash: And lots of it, oh boy.
  • Video Game Time: The games use a timeframe based on years but while your ranch can run for well over a hundred years, the characters stay the same. In fact, in MR Advance 2, your assistant, Holly, will always say that she was a representative of the monster league FIMBA until "last year"—even if she's been your assistant for decades!
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly
  • Stealth Pun: Zilla is a Gorilla Whale mix
  1. Or perhaps a pumpkin shell, considering the Panchoes...