I don’t remember the exact chronology of events, but I’m pretty sure I inherited our copy of Monster Rancher 2 when I said my brother couldn’t trade it in for store credit at the game store. We probably got the game around the time it came out (1999 in the USA, I think), and we were never very good at it…

It’s more than ten years later, and I’m giving the game another go. I’m older and a little better at games, so I’m hoping that I can progress farther through the game’s modes and such without hitting the same barriers to entry that I did the first several (dozen) times around. On first brush, the game was every bit as hard as I remembered.

After I read through several walkthroughs and strategy guides, I started to figure out what I was doing incorrectly. The game has a frustration hurdle that must be cleared very early on, and that’s in managing your very first monster using the ridiculously low funds you begin with. You have to at least win back what you spend raising it.

I suppose the basic idea is that your first monster will live a very brief, violent life before being frozen away and bred into another monster, while your second will have the shadow of the previous creature hanging over it until you’ve trained it enough to breed with the first one. But that’s unacceptable in my opinion.

I’m not really sure why, though. A certain part of me wants to say that you invest so much time in raising your creatures that being stuck with no money to feed them seems … poorly thought-out. I remember from playing the first game, you could train your monster and build up funds at the same time (hiring them out as a day laborer).

I’m not about to admit defeat. Newly armed with training strategies, I’ve successfully raised a Zuum for three years and I’ve just about broken even with my starting funds. I believe I have about two or three years left before I have to retire it, and I’ll probably get it up to at least Rank C before then. Hopefully I’ll make it to the lucrative B Rank.

Then, I’ll retire this Zuum and start another, just like it. But this Zuum, I’ll have a little more money to raise, and I’ll have the experience of raising the first one burned in my mind. This first one (Richard III), remained in infancy for fifteen months, and I had to start taking it into tournaments before it was fully grown. That shouldn’t be a problem with the next one, which I will probably name either George I or Henry I.