Collect 'Em All

by Annette Gonzalez on Aug 31, 2010 at 02:30 PM

“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.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker
In DQM: Joker a young, spiky haired dude dreams of becoming a famous monster scout and sets out to battle his way through the ranks. To aid him in his cause, he needs to recruit monsters from different classes (Slime, Dragon, Nature, Beast, Material, Demon, Undead, and Incarni). You'll traverse the overworld and engage wild monsters in battle, then "scout" them via battle command (no you won’t throw any “scout balls” to capture them).

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
This portable Metal Gear installment employs the Comrade System for a squad-based gameplay mechanic. Snake recruits allies to form a team of specialists that either aid on the field, or play supportive roles such as producing  items, healing allies, or providing intel for each of Portable Ops’ maps. To build up your squad you can hijack tranquilized or stunned enemies to do your bidding.

Radiata Stories
A war breaks out between humans and fairy creatures in this light-hearted RPG and it’s up to you to choose which side will have a happy ending. Chat it up with characters in this bustling world to build relationships that you can later call upon to join you in battle (you can take up to three at a time, but there are dozens to choose from). Though you’ll probably want to kick everyone you encounter in the shin (the game allows you to do so), it’s probably best to play nice to get all the help you can get when taking on monsters outside of town.

Skate 3
The Skate franchise sees a player through the process of creating a skateboarding empire, and Skate 3 provides that final stage allowing you to run your own company. As we all know you can’t run a company without an actual team to help build exposure. Skate 3’s career mode gives you the chance to recruit members and skate as them or with them. As you engage in all sorts of bada**ery around Port Caverton, billboards and posters will start featuring your mug on it.

Little King’s Story
Rule the kingdom of Alpoko as Corobo, who, with his boyish charm, can have citizens follow him and issue orders to develop the land. While the followers start off weak, you can build training facilities to whip them into shape. This will open up different job classes for these citizens including soldier, carpenter, or farmer so they can get down and do all of your dirty work. Oh, slavery.

This obviously isn’t the end-all list of games that allow you to collect people, creatures, robots, etc. that can help on your quest. Throw some examples out there in the comments section and let us know how ridiculous we are for forgetting them.