The town of Monsbaiya, in the middle of an endless burning desert, sits upon a seat of endless wealth and income – The Monster Tower. An enormous construction, built-in a time before people and by unknown hands, casts a great shadow over the land, beckoning adventurers to open its enchanted doors and test their mettle against the creatures within. Inside are many treasures, coins of copper, silver and gold, shields, blades, staves, magical spells… and the most valuable prize of all – Monster Eggs.
With Monster Eggs, an adventurer can tame a monster to follow him, fight by their side, and help battle through the tower. Or, they can be sold for a small fortune to others who are in need of help from a monster.
Enter Guy, hero of the town, renowned for how successful he has made the town from his exploits. His fame and success bring others to the tower – a kind of “if he can do it, maybe I can do it too!” attitude. The town economy booms, and becomes a veritable trading hub. Guy, inevitably, meets a woman. She soon falls pregnant with you, soon-to-be son of Guy.
One night, Guy does not return from the tower. His partner-monster, or familiar, returns, holding his collar, and leaves. Guy is gone.
Many years pass, and you have turned 15, the age for adventuring. The town has fallen from favour, many businesses failing, the trading hub almost completely gone. Your task is simple.
Climb the tower, get the gold, rebuild the town, and get to the top of the tower, where there is supposedly an ultimate monster egg.
Also, you are a 15-year-old boy, and there are many ladies to impress.
And that is the premise of the story. The game is a turn-based dungeon-crawler, every floor in the tower is randomly generated. If you are unfamiliar with the “I move, you move” style of RPG, a modern equivalent is the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series.
So you climb through the tower, fighting enemies and getting stronger… sounds pretty basic, right? It has a nifty twist that, off-hand, I cannot think of any games that have duplicated. When you leave the tower, no matter how much EXP/levels you have gained, you will re-enter with your stats at Level 1. Your monster, however, will stay as strong as it was, along with any items you have taken out successfully.
The emphasis here was to improve your monster, clearly, as they are the point of the game. Your monsters run on energy, which depletes over time and is replenished with food. You, however, do not, meaning that later on in the game, it is better to climb as many floors as possible before summoning a familiar.
There are traps within the tower that can hurt and hinder you – the most fearsome are ones that weaken your weapon or shield. There are items to remedy this – Oil will “undo” any damage done to their abilities, and magical sand will upgrade their powers. The best sword and shields do not rust at all, meaning that they get stronger and stronger whenever you see a lovely little bag of sand.
Well, as long as you don’t get your backside handed to you. Once that happens, wave goodbye to all items you were carrying… (you still keep any tame familiars you have with you).
Outside of the tower, you can build and upgrade the town, purchasing a theatre, bowling alley, swimming pool, all of which can help get side-quests and the attention of the ladies.
The girls themselves (fully clothed, I’m afraid) are quite entertaining, but do not offer a benefit. It’s a nice side-quest, nothing more, but it does fill out the game nicely.
The game itself has always been criticised for its graphical quality. Even at its time in 1997, it left a lot to be desired. It’s one of those titles where you just feel if the game is good, people will stay, and in my opinion the game is very good.
There was also a remake released for the Gameboy Colour, and a sort-of-but-not-really sequel released for the DS, titled Tao’s Adventure: Curse Of The Demon Seal. The DS game scored badly, and the Gameboy Colour version was not as good as the original.
So, the take away from this article? If you are looking for a good, unusual RPG, happen to own a Playstation and can find a copy, snap this up; it’s an absolute gem in gaming. The graphics are sadly very dated now, but it is a fantastic game.
Looking to buy the original Playstation title? Click here.
Perhaps you would prefer the Gameboy game? Click here instead.