First seen in: Dragon Quest V (1992)
Above: Monsters join your team in the DQV remake for DS
Important because: Though you may think collecting monsters began with Pokemon, the first title to actually feature monster that could be defeated, captured and then added to your team was the fifth entry in the colossally popular Dragon Quest series. The DQ bestiary had, by that point, been filled with many popular and recognizable monsters, so why not have some join your team for a change?
Which beast actually joined up with you after being beaten in battle could be pretty random, but they leveled up along with the main character, and became integral parts of the team as players got attached to the reformed creatures during their dozens of hours together. At the time, it was just seen as an interesting one-time addition to a long-running series, but few knew what would follow in its footsteps.
Above: Monster friends that followed you around onscreen were another feature swiped by other, later games
Legacy: DQV’s monster catching didn’t really play up the idea of “gotta catch ‘em all,” but that spirit had been long present in gaming, and also in much of Japanese culture, like with theM.U.S.C.L.E./Kinnikuman toys (opens in new tab). It was only when Pokemon married the monster-battling/capturing/RPG formula of DQV with the collector’s ambition to have everything that monster collecting as we know it now became clearly defined. After the international explosion of Pokemon, a million pretenders and also-rans popped up, like Digimon, Dokapon, and even Dragon Quest: Monsters as the originator became the imitator. Even when games aren’t directly copying Pokemon, the need to get or see or do everything in a game (driven largely by Achievements or similar rewards), including getting all the monsters to be your friend, is more omnipresent now than it ever was before.