The second game in Compile Heart’s Genkai Tokki series, following the card-battle game Monster Monpiece. This series has a particular focus on monster girls, with its defining aspect being the Mune Kyun Scratch mini-game where you hold the Vita sideways and touch or rub the screen to find the girls’ weak points. While the first game was a collectible card-battle game, Moero Chronicle shifts to the Dungeon RPG genre and boasts 50 playable characters.
The Dungeon RPG subgenre was once notorious for being difficult and unfriendly to casual players, but with the increasing popularity of 2D first-person dungeon crawlers on handhelds, the genre has begun making itself more accessible to newcomers. Moero Chronicle is one such example, being a DRPG with very elementary dungeon mechanics and various staples of the genre simplified to provide a less stressful experience for those who simply want to enjoy cute girls and fanservice. Compared to Experience’s titles or Atlus’ Etrian Odyssey series, Monster Monpiece is much less complex in most of its aspects, but it’s still a decently enjoyable member of the genre and provides a title that serves as a good mix of fanservice and gameplay.
The story is set in the world of Monstopia, where humans and monster girls once lived in harmony (no mentions of monster boys to be found). However, something went awry with the Legendary monster girl and others followed suit, beginning to attack humans. The only place that’s seemingly unaffected is in Io’s town, where the monster girls and humans still got along. Many have gone to investigate the phenomenon but none have come back. In fact, it has become something of a routine for someone to go off and try to solve the problem without coming back. Now that too many have gone without bringing back results, no one dares to go explore the dungeons so Io is sent by the mayor to be the next adventurer who goes missing. He is prohibited from going home (but totally allowed to just stay at the town’s inn forever), so his only choice is to go explore the dungeons and return the world to normal with his childhood friend Lilia, one of the monster girls who stayed normal.
The general flow of the game has you going through dungeons and fighting monsters. Every floor or so, you will encounter a hostile monster girl, who moves on the map for every step you move. Colliding with their icon initiates a battle, where you can either recruit her or defeat her. The latter causes her to disappear and come back shortly after, whereas the former makes her join as a playable party member. It’s like the concept of FOEs in Etrian Odyssey, but not as difficult to fight at the time you encounter them, and if the FOEs were cute (and usually scantily clad) monster girls who become party members. To recruit a monster girl, you must fill Otton’s excitement gauge in the left hand corner in battle. It increases as you attack the enemy, but moreso if you hit their elemental weakness or destroy their clothing. When the gauge reaches max level, the infamous rubbing minigame begins; successfully clearing the game results in the monster girl joining you, and failure results in her running away. In short, you art fighting not to deplete the opponent’s HP, but to increase the excitement gauge. Otton is the series’ mascot in the form of a seal (who looks very similar to a certain body part) who is on a quest for girls’ panties. If you keep hitting elemental weaknesses on normal monsters, he gets angry (which has its benefits).
In battles with monster girls, you can choose to attack either the girl herself, or pieces of her clothing. Each article of clothing has its own HP bar, and depleting it causes that piece to break, resulting in a huge increase in the excitement gauge. Attacking the monster girl herself will cause her main HP to deplete. Usually, each monster girl has around 4 bars of HP, and depleting one bar results in her being unable to act for one turn. This can be useful, as long as you don’t go overboard and defeat her by accident. You can simply not attack her main body, but things like all-target spells cannot target individual pieces of clothing. Each piece of clothing has its own elemental weakness, and continuously hitting elemental weaknesses keeps up the aura combo, which can result in an increase in attack or defense depending on your party members’ passive traits. Hitting an enemy with something that’s not its weakness will break the combo, and all-target attacks only count towards the combo if all the enemies are weak to it.
Sometimes, when you defeat regular monsters, they will join you. You can equip them onto monster girls as pets that give various bonuses in battle, or use them as material in this game’s variant of the alchemy system. Unlike other DRPGs that give you a skill tree or complete freedom over stat distribution, the skillsets are fixed and stat growth is random each level with higher probability of increasing some stats than others. You can save-scum to try and give each character the highest possible ATK or MAT or AGI increase each level, but it’s more effort than it’s worth. And although the skillsets are fixed, each monster girl gets four skillsets total.
To get other skillsets, you have to obtain Job Panties for each girl. There are four panties for each of the 50 monster girls. The first one is the default one, the second one is found in a treasure chest in the same dungeon you encounter her, the third is from gathering points, and the fourth is a rare monster drop. There are a total of 200 skillsets in the game, and unsurprisingly, some are more suitable for their owner than others. A monster girl whose stat growth is completely geared towards physical attacks may get an all-element magic skillset, and some end up with four sets that are all rather tricky to make useful. There are only so many different skills so a lot of the skillsets feel kind of similar, but the user’s stats make a world of difference. The game also encourages switching around party members and/or skillsets often, because you’ll likely obtain all the skills in one set by mid-game if you stick to it all the time. Also, the girl actually changes into her job panties, and remains in them even during event scenes. I had the main heroine in super revealing underwear at the final boss confrontation. It doesn’t really affect anything, because the story is pretty silly to begin with.
Aside from skills, each monster girl also has one or two (usually two) ‘moe traits’ that passively benefit her or the party. Some of them only have an effect when combined with others, such as the combination of loli and flat-chest resulting in a post-battle HP and SP recovery. There are also a lot of traits that come into play when you keep an aura combo going (i.e. Iinchou, which increases the user’s attack power by 50% when the aura combo is above 3), fall below a certain amount of HP, or get Otton angry (do-S increases party attack by 40% on the turn when Otton is at the peak of his anger). Some of these actually stack for each girl with the same trait in the party, while others do not. It’s always wise to form a party whose traits work well with each other.
The dungeons are standard DRPG dungeons in the vein of Demon Gaze or Etrian Odyssey, layout-wise: maze-like maps with lots of dead ends and treasures, with the occasional forced fight or story event. Its unique(-ish) gimmick is the special monsters on fixed points at the map, which are stronger than the regular monsters but also give better equipment drops. Otherwise, everything else is as striaghtforward as a dungeon-crawler can get, with no sidequests to distract from the main quest. The first couple of dungeons feel rather samey with their lack of unique features (aside from easily avoidable poison tiles in one), but the fifth and sixth dungeon have their gimmicks that suit the environment. The warped space-looking dungeon sends you to warp point and movement tile hell, whereas the ice dungeon has the standard sliding-floor puzzle that is required if you want to get anywhere. These are a fun break from the same old hallways in the previous dungeons, without being too obnoxious (until post-game).
For the main story (~25 hours), the game is pretty easy even on the Expert difficulty. Even though higher difficulties increase the enemy’s damage output, they also give out a lot more EXP. The faster leveling cancels out the supposed difficulty, at least until post-game. I had pretty much no problems going through the game on Expert up ’til past the ending. The post-game is a lot more challenging, with regular enemy encounters that can easily wipe out your party on Expert. Now this is the pain that you’d expect from dungeon RPGs! There’s also this lv95 monster girl named Satan whose stats are totally cheating, and is much more difficult than the True Final Boss, thanks to the regular enemies that come with her. It’s no stretch to say that regular enemies are more threatening than most bosses, because they come in hordes and late-game encounters tend to know all-target spells, single-target attacks that can KO you at full HP, or both. The post-game is also longer than the main story.
The story is pretty silly, if shallow, all the way through. There are 50 monster girls, but only 11 of them are actually mandatory party members who get screentime in the main story. The other ones are optionally recruitable, and thus only get a handful of scenes to them. They’re mostly defined by one or two ‘moe’ characteristics, and tend to be one-note characters that may come off as forced since there are absolutely too many of them and they just have to have some kind of quirk. Most of them also have some kind of 後尾 to their speech, if you’re into that. The story relevant monster girls get more screen time, although they stay within their stereotypes as well so it’s just a matter of whether you find their particular trait cute or not. My personal favorite was the do-S flat-chested fairy Latte. Cobolt was also cute and super useful as a healer.
The music isn’t too remarkable, but that’s as expected of Compile Heart. I played the game for the art, and that doesn’t disappoint. This kind of colorful ‘moe’ art style is always welcome, and I’m particularly a fan of the palette choices. Unlike Monster Monpiece, which had a bunch of different artists draw the cards and ended up being ridiculously inconsistent in both style and quality, Moero Chronicle has very consistent art. I hope they keep the artist and art direction for future games in the series. The bright palette worked a lot better than Monster Monpiece’s main art style, which was definitely appealing and polished, but doesn’t come with the same energy.
The 3D dungeons look typical, and the game lacks the cool monster designs usually found in DRPGs in favor of joke designs based off of all sorts of NSFW things. There’s an enemy whose name is homonymous with “pink rotor” and another based off of the Tenga line of products.