I first stumbled upon this franchise back when I was just fourteen or fifteen. Being an avid Pokemon fan, I was ready to try my hand at a new monster tamer franchise. Until this day, I view the first two games as true gems in the monster tamer genre.
The first Fossil Fighters game was released to the United States back in 2009 for the Nintendo DS. In 2011, the second game was released for the same console titled Fossil Fighters Champions. As for the third game… We do not talk about the third game (take my word for it, it was bad).
For this review, I will be focusing on the original. It is a game that keeps pulling me back every so often to replay and relive my teenage years.
If the title was not a dead giveaway, the franchise focuses on reviving and fighting dinosaurs. Or, as the games like to call them, Vivosaurs. In the storyline, they explain why they are called vivosaurs and not merely dinosaurs: there are other prehistoric creatures added into the mix.
When it comes to creativity, the creature designs are pretty simple. Take a prehistoric creature, add one of five elements, and boom! You have yourself a vivosaur. Despite the simplicity, I personally like many of the designs displayed here.
One thing I want to point out is that there are no evolutions in the first game. Each vivosaur is its own standalone creature and for some that may be a turn off. In my opinion, it’s alright and in many cases it fits.
The franchise’s mascot is a fire breathing T-Rex that has a tiger stripe pattern. The red and black makes this fearsome beast stand out, especially since its labeled as one of the strongest vivosaurs in the game. The main downside to this fellow is that you cannot find its fossils until the post game unless you get really lucky in the shop.
Another very notable dinosaur in the game is the Triceratops, or Tricera for short. This horned plant eater is in many ways a direct counter to the all mighty T-Rex, considering it is a cool water element.
Next up, we have the Stegosaurus, or Stego for short. It’s a nice green in color, representing the wind type. Most people would label the Stego as one of the cuter designs. When it attacks, it wiggles its tail like a dog. When you see it in action, you might find it absolutely adorable like I did!
My personal favorite is the Ankylosaurus, or the Anky. If you saw my playthrough of this game on YouTube or Rumble, you know that I used a team of all Anky variants, since they are my favorite dinosaurs. Like the Tricera, it also is a water type.
Basically, if it is an extinct creature in our world, there is probably a Vivosaur variant. You have the water type mammoth, a wind type pteranodon, a plethora of long necks of varying types, and so much more.
The only thing holding the score back in my opinion is that this first game locked them out of truly creative designs. By sticking with prehistoric creatures, this heavily limits their creativity. Despite this, the creators did a really amazing job with it.
Creature Designs = 7 / 10
The story for Fossil Fighters is very quirky. It starts out somewhat slow, but it picks up pace after you unlock the first couple of zones. You start off by battling an evil team called “The BB Bandits”. By the end of the story, you are fighting a giant space monster that wants to eat the planet.
One of the first characters you meet is Rosie. She is the granddaughter of a very rich guy and is also very annoying. Rosie follows you around the island like a lost puppy. Rosie is probably my least favorite character in the game, which sucks because she’s also one of the most prominent.
Dr. Diggins is your stereotypical professor. For the first half of the game, he’s pretty much locked in his office, doing a ton of boring paperwork. However, he gets a ton of characterization in the later half of the game.
Now we have the evil team, The BB Bandits! First up is the very intelligent dog of the group, Rex. Why is this dog able to participate in fossil battles? You will just have to play the game to find out!
Up next we have Snivels, a guy with a very long nose. Apparently, he has a better sense of smell than even Rex.
Finally, we have the leader of the three musketeers, Vivian. Spoiler alert: she is the only competent BB Bandit. She’s vicious and has a strong vendetta against the main character after you beat her the first time.
You encounter these three in almost every zone because you also stumble upon these weird “idols” in every zone. For some reason, the BB Bandits need these idols and are willing to go to any length to get them, even if that means locking you in the basement of a pyramid or sabotaging mine carts.
Next we have the mysterious Duna. The player first encounters her in the pirate Woolbeard’s sunken pirate ship. Since the first moment, it’s obvious something is off. She even has a death ray gun that is able to break the mightiest of boulders.
Even the side characters are fun and interesting. We have the lunatic Nick Nack, the beast that is Saurhead, and even the ghost of a pirate, Woolbeard. In the end, I loved every character, except Rosie.
I would also like to note there are a couple twists in the story that others may or may not see coming. During my first playthrough, I did not see them coming. However, I will not be the one to spoil you on these twists!
Story = 8 / 10
The battle system is simple, but for some reason, it works really well. It is a 3v3 format split into three zones. There is the attacking zone, side zones, and the safe zone. The attack zone can attack the opposing attack zone or side zones, while vivosaurs in the side zones can only attack the opposing attack zone.
When it comes to the type chart, you only have to memorize the interactions between five types. Water beats fire, fire beats earth, earth beats air, and air beats water. The final type is neutral which has no strengths or weaknesses.
Next up are the attacks. Each vivosaur has a set of attacks they can choose from that uses a different amount of FP. FP is basically this game’s version of stamina and it increases every turn by a set amount. Some attacks only target one enemy while the most powerful attacks target the whole enemy team.
Some attacks inflict status effects like poison or scare. These effects can do things like damage the enemy every turn or force vivosaur in the attack zone to retreat to the safe zone. There are even attacks that can heal your allies.
Each vivosaur also has an ability. Some of my personal favorite abilities increase the amount of FP you earn each turn. This allows you to use more moves each turn, pulling off some awesome combinations.
Finally, we have team attacks. These attacks are some of the most powerful in the game, but they also require the most FP to use. Each team attack will damage the whole opposing team. The catch is you must use a team of vivosaurs that have some form of synergy. Basically, if you have a team of all fire type vivosaurs, you can use a fire team attack. If this interests you, I recommend looking up a guide for team attacks.
Despite the battle system being so simple, it’s been one of my favorites in the monster tamer franchise. The 3v3 format allows for some interesting strategies and combinations that you can pull off. I personally love it.
Battle System = 8 / 10
Just like the characters, the graphics are also quite quirky. I do not think I have seen any other game with graphics like Fossil Fighters. For me, the graphics worked for the game even if they weren’t anything special.
The zones in the game are pretty cool. You start off at Greenhorn Plains, a simple grassy area with not much to see. There is not much to see here besides a few rocks and trees.
After completing the Greenhorn Plains storyline, you travel to the island’s forest which contains a pyramid. Unlike the Greenhorn Plains, Knotwood Forest has more to see. There is a tribal village here and in the back, a giant pyramid known as the Digadigamid. It’s pretty cool.
Once you escape from the pyramid’s basement, you travel to Rivet Ravine and have an adventure in its caves. The ravine is pretty cool, since it is filled with a bunch of ravines that you have to cross with bridges. As for the mining tunnels, this area is pretty simple and not much to write home about.
Next up is Bottomsup Bay. This is probably one of my favorite zones, considering you are literally underwater. At this location, you can see a bunch of rocks, secret tunnels, seaweed, and the fearsome denture sharks. I say fearsome but the sharks are so derpy looking. There even is also a sunken pirate ship that you can explore! It is probably one of the best designed zones in the game.
The last area I will cover is Mt. Lavaflow. Putting it simply, it is an active volcano. The lava is cool, but there is not a whole lot to see here otherwise.
Like I mentioned already, the graphics fit the game as a whole. Each zone is unique and fits the game and its corresponding storylines. With that being said, the art style is pretty goofy and I would not say it is anything special either.
Graphics = 5 / 10
Unfortunately, the game does get quite repetitive. You dig up a fossil, you clean the fossil, you revive the fossil, then you fight. Out of these four steps, the most repetitive portion is cleaning the fossil. If it weren’t for your little robot sidekick that cleans fossils for you, this score would probably drop.
Each vivosaur has four fossils you can dig up: the head, body, arms and legs. After integrating each fossil, the vivosaur will learn a new move. Some vivosaurs only get their best moves after you get three or four of their fossils. Thankfully, each fossil you integrate also grants the vivosaur experience.
If you want the best fossils, you should check out the shop once it is unlocked. Each day, the shop gets eight random fossils. This includes the extremely rare T-Rex fossils that can only be found in post game. Keep in mind: the rarer the fossil, the more expensive it is.
What do you do if your favorite fossil is in the shop but you are broke? You farm Jewel Rocks, of course. These can range from pearls, diamonds, to rubies and sapphires. Each zone has one or two different jewels you can find, each worth a different cash amount. The downside that holds this score back is that you must fight for every jewel rock.
There is also a quirky character customization mechanic. While you cannot change your character’s clothes, but you can change the head! You do this by unlocking masks throughout the game. Sadly, most of the masks are either mid-game or post-game.
Overall, Fossil Fighters is very middle of the road when it comes to mechanics.
Mechanics = 6 / 10
If you love dinosaurs, you should definitely check this game out. It is a solid standalone title that is extremely quirky and fun.
While it can get repetitive, your robot buddy does help with cleaning fossils. I do wish that they did something different with the jewel rocks though. The masks were a neat way to add character customization no matter how derpy the system may seem.
The graphics aren’t anything special, but I think it works for this game. I love the zones that the game has and how you visit all areas of vivosaur island. Each zone has its own personality, some more interesting than others.
Despite its simplicity, the battle system works. Having only five types to memorize compared to other games with ten or more, is a nice change of pace. The three versus three format adds for some unexpected strategy. If you have a completed fossil of your vivosaur, it grants you the most flexibility in battles.
Probably the quirkiest part of the game is its story. Each character is filled with personality and plays some role in progressing through the game. There are also a couple twists that you may not see coming. So, keep an eye out for those if you decide to check out this game!
As for the monster designs, I love them. If they added evolutions to the first game, the score would definitely be higher. Then, there is the restriction that the creators placed on themselves, having only creatures that were extinct. While it did limit their creativity, I do think they ran well with the concept.
Last point I want to make is that despite the game only scoring a 6.8 out of 10, it feels like the score should be higher. Even after replaying it as many times as I have done, it is always an enjoyable experience.
I cannot wait to review the sequel, Fossil Fighters: Champions!
OVERALL SCORE: 6.8 / 10
This article (Fossil Fighters Review – Quirky, Prehistoric, Fun!) originally appeared at Phillip Schneider and may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.