As Pokémon Legends: Arceus arrives on Switch, chances are some of you are peering over the fence with eyes greener than a Metapod. But don't sweat it — we have some awesome monster-raising games on Xbox, too! Some are extremely close to the classic Pokémon experience, while others take elements from the monster-catching favourite and put their own spin on the formula. If you're open to the idea of leaving Xbox City to get your creature taming fix, there are even more options available than we've presented here (including the mainline series itself, of course). The Ni no Kuni games bring an anime twist, the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series come at monster training from a darker, more mature angle, Yokai Watch delivers a more ghostly take with a novel battle system to back it up, while on PC, there are countless options available, including randomisers and mods that completely change up the classic Pokémon games. If you'd rather stick to Xbox, though, here are some of your best bets...
Kicking off the list, Nexomon Extinction packs big Pokémon energy, and this sequel brings improvements over the original across the board. While it's a direct follow-up, the 1,000-year time skip between the two means that it's a fresh start (replete with an entirely new set of 300+ monsters) should you want to jump in with Extinction, though you will miss a lot of callbacks to the first game (which is also really good). With no dual-type monsters and nothing like Natures, Abilities, or IVs and EVs (Individual and Effort Values), Nexomon is lacking a lot of the depth of Pokémon's systems, but makes up for it with a lot more clarity — such as openly telling you when monsters evolve or what your capture chance is — and mechanics that let you easily boost creatures' stats as you see fit. The battle system is also interesting, with one shared Stamina pool rather than individual PP values dictating how much attacks can be used, forcing you to consider weaker moves with lower costs as well as stronger attacks or status ailment that cost a bigger chunk of Stamina to use. All of this is wrapped up in a bold, bright art style and with a dry, knowing sense of humour that often hits the mark, making the Nexomon games an easy recommendation to anyone who wants to be the very best, like no one ever was.
Nexomon: Extinction is a return to classic monster catching games, complete with a brand new story, eccentric characters and over 300 unique Nexomon to trap and tame.
Ooblets isn't about catching creatures, rather growing them. As you tend your plot, planting and harvesting all manner of produce, you're also able to grow strange little friends — the titular Ooblets. Further subverting the Pokémon formula, you won't be forcing these adorable dudes to slap one another, either, with confrontation instead taking the form of high-stakes dance battles. Sure, why not? The Ooblets themselves come in all shapes and sizes and you're sure to quickly discover a favourite for whom you would take a bullet (not that there are any guns in this game, of course), and while Pokémon fans will find lots to like in the way Ooblets riffs on the classics, there's more to it than that. In fact, there's just as much here for fans of the likes of Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, and Animal Crossing, with farming, home decoration, and life sim elements all coming into play to help make the game more than the sum of its parts. Ooblets launched into early access back in 2020, and is currently sitting at version 0.9 — the full 1.0 release isn't far off now, and will apparently see the addition of achievements to the game, which is likely the moment some of you have been waiting for before jumping in to make friends with some Ooblets for yourself.
Ooblets (Game Preview)
This game is a work in progress. It may or may not change over time or release as a final product. Purchase only if you are comfortable with the current state of the unfinished game.
Ooblets is a farming, creature collection, and town life game where you build up your farm, befriend townsfolk, grow ooblets, and have dance-offs.
Full details on the latest status of the game, how you can give feedback and report issues can be found at http://badge.town/support
File Temtem under 'coming soon' — it was originally supposed to be coming to Xbox in 2021 after arriving in early access on PC and PS5 in 2020, with the Xbox Series X|S launch now due when the game hits full release later this year. Temtem is effectively the Pokémon MMO many trainers have been lobbying for ever since the series first blew up, and it wears its inspiration on its sleeve. With its more connected nature, you won't need to make the long journey to becoming a master tamer alone — other tamers roam the land just like other characters in any MMO, so you can trade with or challenge them to your heart's content, plus you can bring along a co-op buddy to rise through the ranks as a team. You see, Temtem uses doubles-style battles like those that are popular in competitive Pokémon, which offer way deeper strategic options than standard singles showdowns. Like Nexomon, Temtem also shifts to a stamina system to govern move usage rather than each attack having its own stock of uses, which makes picking the right skills at the right time even more important to success. We already know Temtem is a great online spin on the typical Pokémon adventure thanks to the fantastic feedback to the early access launch — now, we just have to wait for the full release to finally get the game on Xbox.
Monster Sanctuary probably deviates most from the classic Pokémon formula of all games on this list, but it still fits the bill due to having a small army of creatures to tame, train, and send into battle. Combat is turn-based but more akin to classic RPG battles, with encounters getting quite hectic due to the greater number of participants in each clash. In an interesting twist, you need to pick a selection of monsters from your full squad ahead of each battle — as in most competitive Pokémon formats — in order to target weaknesses in your opponents, so having a well-rounded team from which to pull is vital. The structure, conversely, is nothing like your usual Pokémon journey, instead taking the form of a 2D Metroidvania-like map to explore. The monsters lend a hand in the overworld, too, with abilities that let you destroy or otherwise overcome obstacles in real time, akin to a more action-centric twist on the HM abilities that were central to the Pokémon adventures until the most recent iterations where they were replaced with new features that serve the same fundamental purpose. If you want a little bit of Pokémon flavour in a game that plays out completely differently during moment-to-moment gameplay, this Game Pass gem should be on your radar.
Monster taming meets metroidvania. Collect, train and battle monsters in a lovely side-view pixel world.
Choose your spectral familiar and follow in your ancestors’ footsteps to become a Monster keeper and save the Monster Sanctuary.
World of Final Fantasy Maxima
The phenomenal success of the Pokémon franchise meant that many major RPG studios would want to cash in on the craze with their own take on it, to varying degrees of success. Enix was quick to the punch with Game Boy Color Dragon Quest spin-off, Dragon Warrior Monsters, which landed mere months after the release of Pokémon Red and Blue here in Europe. Square, meanwhile, didn't get in on the monster-training action fully (similar mechanics can be seen elsewhere in Final Fantasy history, like in XIII-2) until 2016's World of Final Fantasy, and we didn't even get that on Xbox until the enhanced Maxima edition. With the help of chibi versions of many familiar faces from the Final Fantasy series, your task here is to capture iconic creatures from the JRPG series to form an unstoppable team with which to save the world (obviously). The unique gimmick here is the stacking mechanic, with the ability to place smaller monsters on top of larger ones to make them more powerful at the expense of opening yourself up to being toppled by strong enemy attacks. It's a neat feature and the game itself is loaded with fan service that FF lovers will lap up... trust us, World of Final Fantasy is way better than it looks.
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY is now available on Xbox One, and it is bigger and better than ever! Beloved characters from FF lore (Champions) and a multitude of capturable monsters (Mirages) appear in this fun and exciting adventure. This new and and enhanced version also features the Avatar Change system, which allows the protagonists to fight as Champions.
If you're looking for something a little more hardcore, Siralim 3 will see you right. There's a dizzying depth to the systems here, with hundreds of creatures to train and cross-breed in search of the perfect companions as you tackle countless randomly generated dungeons. It's almost more roguelike in its basic structure (not unlike the Mystery Dungeon games, only with a 16-bit lick of paint) and more classic turn-based large-party RPG in its in-depth combat system, but Pokémon fans should really get a kick out of the nigh-bottomless customisation options for your squad. The simplistic presentation will likely leave some players cold — as will the fact that the game launched through the Creators Collection so doesn't have achievements, despite having trophies on PS4 — but if you can get past that, the sheer breadth and flexibility of the mechanics here make for one of the most complex creature-catching games out there.
Monster Crown is another that isn't here just yet, although there's not long to wait — this love letter to the early Pokémon games is set to arrive on Xbox in February. The deliberately simple sprite work makes the catchable creatures here that much more mysterious and intriguing, just like in the original Game Boy Pokémon games where you had to try and work out what you were actually looking at... especially before we later got a frame of reference for many of them in other media, a luxury we're unlikely to get with Monster Crown. Like Siralim and Dragon Warrior Monsters before it, breeding is a big part of the game, with hundreds of creature variants to discover depending on which combinations you decide to splice together. It's been out on Steam since 2020 (which, it seems, must have been a vintage year for fans of these kinds of games), with feedback suggesting that the game itself is fantastic but that the PC version is/was in a bit of a state, so hopefully that extra time in development will bring a better level of polish to the imminent console release.
Dive into a dark world where monsters rule and make pacts with them to defeat an evil young woman seeking power. Hunt, battle, tame and breed monsters to create your own legacy. Together with your monsters, you can restore the balance to Crown Island
Any of these take your fancy? Or maybe there's something else we've missed that you'd like to share? You teach me and I'll teach you down in the comments!