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Collect 'Em All

“Gotta catch ‘em all!” was a phrase popularized by one of my favorite franchises – Pokémon. With hundreds of monsters with ridiculous names to capture and train, we have some work to do to fill the constantly growing Pokédex. The popularity of the series spawned a few obvious knock offs while other games have simply borrowed one mechanic that is a crucial ingredient in Pokémon’s addictive property: Collection. We take a look at a few games that allow you to collect and develop small armies that help you on your quest.

Gotcha Force
Gotcha Force released for the Gamecube in the early 2000s spinning a tale of warring factions of robots called Borgs. As much as I’d like to finish this blurb saying “Borg” the least possible, I’m afraid that won’t happen. The earth is under attack by Gotcha Borgs referred to as the Death Force. Some spiky haired kid named Kou forms the Gotcha Force to take down enemy forces. The combat-focused gameplay allows you to acquire Gotcha Borgs and Gotcha Borg parts to fill out your army, upgrade your current roster of Borgs, and increase the number you can keep in your army. In other words, collect a bunch of tiny robots and pit them against other tiny robots in a fight to the death to collect more tiny robots.

Viva Piñata
The concept is simple: Turn a drab plot of land into a bustling, lush garden. To do so you essentially want to attract asexual piñatas to reside in your new space, encourage they get their romance dance on, and slowly build the population to collect every specie of piñata possible. Keep your paper maché residents safe from Ruffians and feed them lots of yummy candy that will allow them to contribute to your garden’s growth, and put them at risk of obesity.

Guardian’s Crusade
Control a young messenger named Knight who encounters a baby pink monster named Baby who you are tasked to deliver to its mother (seems they forgot to remove the character's placeholder names). During their journey, Knight finds Living Toys created by a Mr. Zepetto that can be found in chests across the world and aid him in battle. They can serve different roles in skirmishes as attackers, helpers, healers, and “misc.” Their miscellaneous purpose is to scare me. Living Toys sound more terrifying than helpful. Puppetmaster, anyone?

Monster Rancher
The Monster Rancher series has spawned more than a dozen titles that unlike Pokémon are more like animal breeding simulators that require you to properly care for your monsters in order to enter them in tournaments.  Feed, train, and keep your monster’s morale up to ensure you’re unleashing a true beast in the ring. Being mindful of your stable of creatures will bring out their best performance. Neglect them and they will file for early retirement, or die. For real. If they do check out early you can unlock more monsters to exploit by inserting DVDs and CDs that you already own (this is applicable in the earlier installments of Monster Rancher games). The digital information is read and based on strings of numbers generated, a randomized monster will be created. It is a very technical process, which brings me to an excellent stopping point.

Jade Cocoon
Take an RPG in a natural setting and toss in a heavy dose of pet management for Crave’s Jade Cocoon. You take on the role of Levant, a young cocoon master in a dense forest tasked to capture and purify these bug-ish monsters called Minions. These bug monsters can be used to fight for and defend our protagonist, can be spun into silk for some cold hard cash, or can be fused with other Minions allowing the player to customize the new creatures’ abilities.

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