Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Michael McCann 11.06.2023

Review for Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher on Nintendo Switch

It hass been said that two wrongs don't make a right, and yet, much like the charming combination of Paul Daniels and Debbie Magee, the blending of Monster Rancher and Ultraman makes a lot more sense than the initial thought would have one believe. That thought - in this instance, that two properties with a relative niche appeal could combine their potential overlap to create one relatively modest-sized audience for financial gain - is a lofty one, of course, ignoring the perspective of what is probably the entire population of Japan, where both properties originate from. Spending a bit of time with Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher, however, it is apt if a little sideways. Instead of having some Aphex acid, let's be having some monster management sim with a healthy side of tokusatsu.

Monster Hunter is a long-standing franchise - an institution! Harkening back to the original PlayStation era, it is often cited with reference to Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh or Digimon, as it betides from the same wave, yet has waned in relevance a little bit more than it's peers due to the rigidity of its mechanics.

That comparison and assessment certainly persists in Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher, 25 years removed from the zeitgeist, as it plays more like an advanced Tamagotchi crossed with a sports management sim, rather than the typical RPG-lite-collectathon that one would be accustomed to from the other titles. Its Pikachu equivalent is a uniped eyeball character - which is probably an appropriate similitude that can accurately describe the Monster Hunter franchise as a whole.

The collecting is there, the monsters indeed, and the role-playing, as a young Monster Rancher tasked with training these said monsters over the course of four years to battle in tournaments and become the best dang Monster Rancher in all the land.

Screenshot for Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher on Nintendo Switch

The original titles differentiated themselves by using different CDs, which could be placed into the PlayStation's disc drive to generate a random monster specific to that CD, and, though not quite as novel, the modern translation of that is done via the use of NFC. It's a much slower burn than that of the aforementioned counterparts, with menus, navigating and selecting them, comprising most of the gameplay.

Of course, there is more depth than that, this being a management sim and all, as meters keep track of the in-training monster's anger and fatigue level, and the decision on whether or not to send it for a training drill or, alternatively, rest for a week, and what food it has been fed, will have a direct effect on its rate of growth and success.

It can be addicting and very engaging, weaving a light narrative and random scripted moments throughout, which work in large part because the presentation in Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher is excellent. It is, however, a less 'cute' experience than something like Pokemon, which can affect attachment with a given monster. The crossover conceit means that many of the kaiju take the literal form of a human inside a lo-fi aesthetic monster costume, which also raises a lot questions about the world of Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher.

The unique battle system uses a 'Guts' stat - basically an equivalent of FP or stamina, which ticks up over time, to then spend on an attack, which is context sensitive to the distance from an opponent. It's simple, but effective and fun. This simplicity, which runs through every aspect of Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher, can be a good and a bad thing, however, as it creates an easy and addicting loop to understand, but it does also very quickly become repetitive.

Screenshot for Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher is a very specific title that is going to appeal to a specific audience. What it does it does very well with heaps of charm, but that is counterbalanced by repetition and not a lot of challenge. Much of the dialogue eventually becomes superficial, training animations wear out their welcome rather quickly, making the 'fast forward' option a required feature, and there aren't quite enough monster variations or tournament types to keep it all from blending into the same thing. Despite this, it is still likable, and seems like it would be very much at home on mobile devices. Regardless, it's always going to be a kick to see Ultraman show up to keep a rampaging monster in check.


Bandai Namco


Bandai Namco





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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