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PlayStation Retrospective: Jade Cocoon

Does anyone here remember Poké-Mania? These days, Pokémon clones are a dime a dozen. Just log onto iStore or Google Play and I'm sure you'll find another soulless Pokémon clone with poorly designed monsters. But back in the tail-end of the '90s, the subgenre of Pokémon clones was just beginning, and back then they actually tried. Some games had their charms like Monster Rancher. Others like Digimon, had awesome monsters, but failed to find their footing in the gaming world.

Then there was Jade Cocoon. Jade Cocoon quietly existed on the original PlayStation and no one seemed to notice. It was quite unique from Pokémon clones as it took the monster-raising and -battling concepts and evolved them (wink). One of the most requested features for future Pokémon titles was cross-breeding. Although not technically cross-breeding, Jade Cocoon had a feature where you could merge your creatures (referred to in-game as Minions). This allowed for you to play with your Minion's weaknesses and strengths.

If you merged your Minion properly, you would end up with 25% of each element, making you resistant against all four types of enemies. But sometimes, you would need a creature that is more resistant to Fire, so then you had to merge your Minion again and again. It was as complex as it was fun.

Even better, your Minion's appearances would actually change based on the merger and the order of the merger. If you had a blue dragon-esque creature and you merged it with red bug-esque creature, you would end up with a red dragon with bug features. Or if you flip the order of your merger, you will end up with a blue bug with dragon features. Jade Cocoon actually played with the Minions' character models, making each creature unique. And if that weren't enough, you could even throw in a special skin into the mix to make your creature really stand out (like a Panda skin).

Another nifty feature is that your Minion actually grew with you by level. So that little puppy-like creature with a stumpy horn would actually turn into something closer to a wolf with a horn that'll make a triceratops jealous. You can even stumble onto a family of Minions in the wild. Kill the kids and steal the mom! Or kill the mom and steal the kids! The choice is yours, you monster.

The story of the game was surprisingly dark, with hints of beastilality. That was hardly a concern, though, as you the game sways you with its splendid graphics and solid soundtrack. Once you finish the story mode, you journey endlessly through a randomized nightmare forest looking for new Minions to mix and match until the end of time. It was almost a travesty that I was the only person I knew that played this game. You had the ability to bring over your friend's memory cards and battle your Minions.

Three years later, Jade Cocoon 2 came out and no one noticed then either.