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Sharks Gameday: Monster Rancher

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A look back to 1997 at the Sharks, Blackhawks, and the game Monster Rancher.

Pictured: NHL '99.
Pictured: NHL '99.

In 1997, the game Monster Rancher was released for the Playstation. The world would never be the same.

What was Monster Rancher? Good question.

It is the first game in Tecmo's Monster Rancher series, featuring the raising, fighting, and breeding of monsters.

Okay so it was basically just a Pokemon kind of thing, right? Why was that so special? Why is it my 62nd-favorite game of all time?

This is why:

Although it is possible to acquire a monster in-game, the series is known for the ability to acquire new monsters using Compact Discs (CDs). Players can use any readable CD, and the game creates a monster using the data stored on it. Certain CDs would result in unique monsters: for example, some Christmas music albums will give the player a monster of type "Santa".

You guys! This was so amazing! You got monsters in the game by going to a temple and reading information off of these stone discs. In real life, that would involve opening the Playstation while you were still playing Monster Rancher, putting in any other CD or CD-ROM or whatever you had lying around, and then you would get a monster based on the data on that specific CD!

My mind was blown so hard by this that I still haven't fully recovered.

While most of the monsters you got were just the luck of the draw, based on whatever algorithm read the information on the disc and determined the corresponding type of monster, there were certain CDs that held "rare" monsters that were specifically programmed to come from that CD. One of those, humorously, was R.E.M.'s CD "Monster," which gave you some crazy tiger -dragon thing called Apoclis.

This was a brilliant mechanic to use in a game, and it never got old seeing what kind of stupid fairy creature you would get off a Black Sabbath CD, or whatever. I mean, just look at this list. Cypress Hill's "Black Monday" gave you a plant monster! DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's "He's the DJ I'm the Rapper" gave you a rainbow worm monster! How amazing is that?

Things were way better in the 90s, folks.


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Except the Sharks and the Blackhawks. Those things were NOT better in the 90s.

Monster Rancher came out in 1997. That wasn't a particularly good year for either the Sharks or the Blackhawks. In the 96-97 season the Sharks finished with 62 points and were 7th in the Pacific, missing the playoffs entirely. That same year the Blackhawks were 5th in the Central and lost in the first round to the Avalanche. In 97-98 it was basically reversed: the Sharks lost in the first round to the Stars and the Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the first of what would ultimately be four straight seasons.

We've come a long way, baby.

Prediction: Sharks win with a bite attack in the final seconds!

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