Collectible card games have come a long way since their humble beginnings with Magic The Gathering in the 90′s. Back then it seemed like everyone needed to have a card game: Pokemon, Yugioh, Marvel, Star Wars and so many others. But much like the video game crash of the 80′s, card games started to over-saturate the market crash. Some of the bigger named games managed to stay around while others disappeared. Now with the rise of smart devices, collectible card games have gotten a second wind and are on the rise once again. Even portable systems like the Vita have started seeing card games like Uncharted Fight for Fortune and the game which this review is about, Monster Monpiece.
Moe Monster Power
Yu-Gi-Oh with a twist- It would be easy to dismiss as Monster Monpiece as another digital card game. You open up booster packs, collect cards with awesome looking artwork, build a powerful deck, fight other people and the AI all the while traveling around the world on some type of quest. However Monster Monpiece is more a kin to Yu-Gi-Oh in the matter that instead of just static pictures of monsters, the pictures of the monsters on the cards come to life and battle each other. I could just stop right here and say that Monster Monpiece is just like Yu-Gi-Oh, but it isn’t. While Yu-Gi-Oh sticks to the traditional card playing field, Monster Monpiece adds in a mix of tower defense and lite RPG elements. A battle in Monster Monpiece is carried out on a three by seven playing field with each player getting a three by three section of the field as their base. The goal is simple: take down your opponent’s base using the cute moe monsters.
Strategic RPG card battles- If you’re thinking “If this is like Yu-Gi-Oh, then it should be easy to pick up and play” you’re half right. Monster Monpiece is pretty easy but only after you know how to play, and I don’t just mean placing down monster anywhere and having them attack. There are four classes of monsters: melee, ranged, healer and buffer. While each of them can attack other monster, healers and buffers have additional actions. Healers can (obviously) heal other monsters and buffers (again its in the name) can give status buffs to monsters. Having one or the other behind your attacking monster can greatly help in a pinch as they can either buff up its attack or heal. The catch is that only of them has to be right behind the monster you want to cast the heal or buff on at a time. This forces the player to keep in mind of the three by seven playing field when placing down monsters. There are also status attributes that the monsters gain when they level up that can affect your monsters positively or negativity. If this is starting to sound a bit like an SRPG, it should be. Monster Monpiece uses bits and pieces of SRPG elements and mixes them in with card mechanics. I find this to be a great change of pace from just trying to get the strongest monsters and overpower the opponent.
Fu-sion-HA!- Fusing monsters together is a common mechanic in most card games. This is where the player takes two monsters of equal level or of the same type and combinds them together to create a stronger monster. There are many reasons to fuse monsters together: to make stronger monsters, to combined two attributes from two different monsters into one monster, to obtain new rare types of monsters, etc. But what if you need a stronger monster right now while in the middle of battle, and you don’t have enough mana to summon that strong monster? Since Monster Mopiece doesn’t have traditional fusions, it gets around this by letting players fuse monsters in the middle of battle. This is a very handy mechanic to use when you see one of your more powerful monster girls is about to bite the dust, you can fuse her with a monster girl of the same type and increase her power. Sometimes she’ll even get and keep status effects that the monster girl you used to fuse had.
Cute humans and monster girls- I am aware that Idea Factory Intentional had to make some edits to the artwork of the monster girl cards in order for Monster Monpiece to get an M rating in order to be published in North America. Regardless of the edits, I really like the artwork for Monster Monpeice. They way that the human and monster girls are drawn during the cut scenes kind of remind of of the artwork in the Atelier series. As the monster girls, each of them is drawn in as a moe-ied version of a mystical monster. I personally have grown accustomed to the art style since I’ve played plenty of JRPGs that share the moe motif.
Battle with human players- And I don’t mean the human girls in the game. What makes any type of card game fun is battling other human players. To make things fair, the game offers three different rooms to host lobbies in: ranked, beginner and, non-DLC matches. Down the like Monster Monpiece will be offering DLC cards and packs it seems. While DLC/microtransactions are usually frowned upon, at least Idea Factor was considerate to give players the option of wanting to get into battles with players that have DLC cards. Battles can be customized with time limits, deck sizes and various other settings to make them interesting.
Grammar lost in- I’ve played plenty of JRPGs before in my years of reviewing games and I have come accustomed to certain words and phrases in Japanese being Americanized so that English speakers here in North America can understand. Sometimes the translations are exactly the same in English as they are in Japanese, other times words need to be changed and replaced so that the message can be understood. If this was the case I would have just dismissed it. However this isn’t the case. I’m not sure if it’s because I am playing the EU version of the game, but for some reason some of the grammar used is out of place. I know that American English is different from UK English, but I haven’t had much exposure to really to tell that if this just the way English is spoken in the UK or that there are some grammatical errors in the game.
First Crush Rub too random- Some of you might already have heard about First Crush Rub function of Monster Monpiece and might already have past judgement on the game based on it alone. If you haven’t heard about it, FCR is how you level up the monster girls. You level them up by poking, rubbing and pinching the on screen monster girl. If you fill up the meter bar that is on the left side, you have succeeded in leveling her up. I also have a few issues about it as well, but they are not the ones you and the majority of others are thinking of. My issues with FCR is that it’s too random. And not in a “OMG that is sooooo weird, pervy and random” way but in a random results and stats way.
As you rub, poke and pinch the monster girl she’ll react to each action. The problem, at least for me, is that all of her moans kind of sound the same. While the point of the FCR is to guess what gesture to use on the monster girl by the sounds she makes, if you can’t distinguish a pleasure moan from an annoyed moan not only does it make it harder to decide what gesture to use but will also affect the stats as well.
I mentioned the purpose of FCR is to level up your monster girls by rubbing, pinching and poking them. You succeed when you fill up the bar known as the pleasure meter. So if you suceeed you would think you get a positive result like increased HP, attack, or some type of status effect. Well you do, but what you get is randomized. Sometimes you’ll lose HP but gain more attack points. Sometimes you’ll lose both attack and HP but gain a status effect. And even status effects randomized, so you might not know if it will effect you positively or negatively.
Even with heavy editing and the questionable First Crush Rub mechanic, Monster Monpiece is a really enjoyable card game. The battles can be strategic, especially with a live human opponent. The artwork is really cute, and for a card game it has some really fun lite RPG elements. What brings the game down is that the grammar is a bit dodgy and using the First Crush Rub mechanic is a bit of a gamble. If you are a JRPG fan and happen to like the moe art style, I’d recommend giving Monster Monpiece a shot.