When you scout monsters it brings them in at a high experience level, making them ideal for "synthesis," which is the merging of two beasts to create a new one. There are a few restrictions, one being that they must each be at least level 10. Each monster comes with a set of traits that determine what skills it can learn after leveling up, and when you synthesize, you'll have to choose three of the parents' traits for the new monster to inherit. You'll be thinking long and hard about which monsters and traits to keep or toss. Interestingly, you can create the same species with totally different abilities, and the possibilities are almost endless.
The caveat is that a newly synthesized beast starts off at a low level. Since you'll want to see what the next synthesis will yield, you'll feel compelled to level up your new baby. This will take a very long time if you want to keep everything synthesis-ready, but even without considering that, each new area is already tough to fight through if you don't grind. With only a smattering of nooks to explore and side quests to take, Dragon Quest Monsters doesn't do a very good job of masking the grinding process. Be prepared to run around in circles fighting the same enemies if you want to get a lot out of this game.
At least the game is a joy to look at as you grind. Akira Toriyama's trademark art style is represented very faithfully via cel-shaded character models roaming about an entirely 3D world. The coloring is vibrant, and most textures, while expectedly blocky due to the limitations of the DS hardware, are very detailed. The frame rate is smooth, and pop-in and broken seams are rare. The audio holds up its end of the bargain, with sound effects that are crisp rather than muddy and music that uses high-quality samples. The melodies could use a bit more variety, however, and while catchy and mostly cheery, they aren't entirely moving. Nevertheless, the presentation is still strong overall, both aesthetically and technically.
The game takes advantage of the DS's Wi-Fi technology too, though not to its fullest. You can battle and trade monsters over local wireless play, which is fine, but multiplayer battling over the Internet is noticeably absent. Square Enix has tried to make up for it by letting you battle against downloadable team data. By sending your team data online, the game will match it to five other teams on the network and download their data for you. You can win new monsters and items through these battles, or even just by signing into the network. It works well enough, and the items and monsters provide incentive, but the more competitive scouts out there will still miss pummeling their friends head-to-head.
Even with the lack of competitive online play, there's plenty to do in Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker. With such a variety of monsters to collect and ways to mold them to your liking, you'll spend hours upon hours past the main 25-hour story scouting and experimenting. Although the grinding can be a turn off, it's well worth the trouble if you desire the sense of satisfaction that comes with a massive, customized collection of beasts.