While the standard Dragon Quest Monsters and Pokemon games employ similar mechanics throughout the series, there’s something about the oldest entries. There’s a certain ambiance and charm that came from those limited color palettes and concepts, and Picorinne Soft attempts to tap into that with Disc Creatures. This creature-collecting RPG offers a similar sort of feel, only paired with quality of life adjustments you’d expect from a modern title.
First, while Disc Creatures looks a lot like early Pokemon games, it feels more like a Dragon Quest Monsters title. Everything is very minimalistic, with buildings and character designs that feel like they were directly inspired by Pokemon Blue, Green, and Red. Creatures tend to only have colors from similar shades used in their design. People have the same sort of stubby designs. Houses tend to be boxes that rely on signs or one or two distinguishing features to set them apart. There is a lot of backtracking as you go to and from villages and across the area.
The battles are when Disc Creatures’ Dragon Quest Monsters DNA shines through. The game relies on a turn-based battle system where each side can have up to three creatures. (You can also only have three monsters total with you at a time.) Rather than each move having PP, it relies on energy to attack. Energy automatically restores outside of battle, or can be revitalized with energy charge in battle. However, if a charging character is attacked, it will count as a devastating critical hit. There are twelve types for monsters, in a nod to Pokemon, but the rest feels like Dragon Quest. Even when you recruit, you are acquiring data and have an optional item to speed that up, rather than expend Poke Balls, and you are allowed to have multiple discs for each creature. Each fight comes down to knowing elemental strengths and weaknesses, managing energy so you can anticipate a chance at a stronger than usual attack, and being ready to try and use an item to increase a chance at catching a rarer, stronger creature.
Once you start to establish yourself with a team, a number of features designed to make the game more strategic or help you save time appear. If another DiscR trainer in the field wants to fight, you’ll see an icon over their head. You have the ability to surrender in long, drawn-out fights, so you could go back and regroup. Since spawning a creature from a disc gives you a level one monster, you can take it to a restaurant to gradually feed it meals to get it up to certain level plateaus and catch up. For example, the first Kid’s Meal is only two coins and brings any critter that is level 1-4 to level 5. Since creatures’ moves are never forgotten, you just need to use the changer in your bag or at a PC to alter the four-ability moveset a character has. A transmitter lets you check in at any time, so you can see what you should be doing.
There are even times when Disc Creatures feels a little like Persona. As in that series, there is a fusion system. As you perform certain actions and explore the world, you will eventually come across recipes. These will let you take discs for characters you have collected and combine them to create a new, even more powerful creature. For example, you’ll get a recipe for Guardantuan after getting a recipe that floated downstream from a fisherman.
Disc Creatures is a game that taps into nostalgia. It knows what creature-collecting titles people might have grown up with and loved, then taps into that to create its own sort of experience. The result is something that feels a bit like digital comfort food.
Disc Creatures is available for PCs.