|Release Date||May 24, 2014|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature|
Monster Monpiece is a card battling game with an interesting twist. To level up your cards, there is a “rub” feature implemented into the game where you show the characters affection in hopes of making them happy enough to improve their stats. As someone new to card battling games, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I went into the game quite excited! After all, a new experience can be quite fun, and of course there is the always intriguing thought of rubbing the Vita!
The first thing I noticed about the game is that it is very cute. The colors are vibrant, and the world is drawn beautifully. The characters each have their own look which really matches their personality. Some games show you a cutesy-looking girl with a badass attitude, or a badass who dresses like she wants to be a cheerleader. Anyhow, in the world of Yafaniel humans and monster girls live together. An Academy student named May has an interesting encounter with a stranger, and her best friend, Elza, becomes “lost.” Being lost can happen to humans and monster girls alike, and definitely isn’t too great of a thing to happen. It’s time to set out on an adventure to both cure your friend and find out what this stranger is up to!
Each location offers a room or two for you to look at, and are all nicely done. There is quite a bit of lighting and shading effects that give the illusion that you are standing in a grand room with lots to explore. So, while you can’t actually explore anything, you feel like there is plenty going on and to look at. This is quite hard to accomplish with only one or two screens, but they pulled it off nicely. Since you don’t actually walk around in this game, instead traveling on a set path by clicking different locations, the scenery could get quite boring. It really doesn’t, though, because things are broken up with battles and cutscenes.
The game is partially voiced in Japanese, and there is a groovy soundtrack for you to listen to while you are on the map or looking around the various menu locations. There are plenty of sound effects to be found here, as well. Whenever you click to move to a new location on the map, as well as when you enter a new location or battle. Most of the music is pretty upbeat and happy, and, of course, it gets a bit more intense when you enter a battle. The battles have quite a few sound effects, as well, like the thwack of your characters’ weapons as they attack, and when you place a new card on the battlefield.
You can access different parts of the game through the menu, which is located on the World Map as “To HQ” (pictured below). When you enter the HQ, you will see a few different options. The Card Gym is where the Deck Settings, Open Card Packs, First Crush Rub and Training can be found. If you would like to battle you go to Network, the Shop is located under Shop and so on. Everything is pretty self explanatory.
Going around the map is quite simple. Dots will appear on the map, and you simply click to go to each one. Each different dot will either get you a battle, some money or Rub Points. If an area is situated for a battle, someone will appear, talk some trash and then the battle starts.
To do all of this battling, you are going to need to set up your deck. Your deck can hold 40 cards with no more than three like cards at one time. There are different types of cards, as well as colors on the cards. The types of cards are Dragon, Demi-H, Beast, Nature, Fairy, Undead and Hybrid. There are many different combinations on setting your deck up. You can stick to like colors or card types, you can select the best cards of each category or pretty much anything you want.
Once a battle starts, you will see two lists that each have a time limit, HQ Durability, Starting Mana, Maximum Mana and Mana Regen Rate. Each list will be assigned to a “top” or a “bottom.” A coin is then flipped which decides if you are on the top or bottom. The biggest difference between being on the top or bottom is your Maximum Mana.
You will see a layout of squares with a base on either end. To battle, you select the card that you wish to use (if you have enough mana) and place it on your side of the map. You can view the cards available to you during this time and pick which one you think will best suit your needs. Place your card on the field and, on the next turn, you will either attack your opponent (if they have a card close enough to you to battle) or take a step towards their base. To win, you need to battle your opponents and make your way to their base to attack it a few times.
Grouping cards together will sometimes grant you a boost. This can be more mana to summon cards, HP up, Mana up or Attack up. You will have to play around with different combinations to see what types of boosts you can get with grouping cards together. I played around with mine until I got something I liked, and ended up using all card types and selected the best cards I had in each category.
In addition to the battles that you will find on the map, you can also take advantage of the Training option. This is where you fight battles in which you previously participated. You will get more Rub Points and money for purchasing new cards by doing so. Basically, this is how you grind in Monster Monpiece.
All of this battling and training is great, but you still need to upgrade your cards! You need to get your stats a little better and learn some skills. This is done through the First Crush Rubbing feature. You will need Rub Points to begin this process of the game. As I already mentioned, these points are earned through battling as you progress the story and training. Once you have enough rub points, you go into the Card Gym and select First Crush Rub.
Rubbing your cards was something that I thought could be fun as long as it didn’t get repetitive. I’m not going to talk about the look of the characters on the cards or even get into rubbing them from a personal point of view. I may do an opinion piece on that later on, but for now let’s stick to the specifics.
Rubbing the cards (actually tapping them since that works best) works like this: Hold your Vita vertically and use the D-pad to scroll around so that you can see the whole card and start rubbing or tapping. Hearts or stars will show up when your rubbing an area that the character really likes, and as you do so a bar on the left of the screen fills up. You are timed, so try to find the heart or star areas quickly enough to fill your bar before time runs out. Based on how you did, the card will get a stat boost or learn a new skill. Most of the time, the outcome is pretty good, but I did lose HP quite a few times, but learn a new skill.
As I said above, I am new to the card battling genre. I’ve played Magic: The Gathering, but that was with actual cards and not something I played on a console. I was intrigued by the idea and thought it would be fun to see if it was something I enjoyed or not. Sadly, and through no fault of the game… I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Sometimes a player simply doesn’t connect with a game. It happens, but I will go into a couple of reasons why I am not in love with this title.
Battling in Monster Monpiece seemed a little too random for my tastes. I could group things together that did nothing, but my opponent could do the same thing and got stat boosts. I tried a bunch of combinations and did find a few things that worked that got me through the game, but I still felt like things were just a bit too out of my control. I know, this is probably what I should have expected from this type of game, which is why I say that my not enjoying my time spent with this title is my own fault!
Another annoyance was that Monster Monpiece has quite a few cute little extras in it that many may enjoy. Most people will likely find that it adds to their experience. However, these extras just annoyed me. I’m speaking of things like the way you open new card packs. You swipe across the card pack on the Vita screen as if you were actually opening the cards. Once that is done, you see the backs of your new cards and must swipe across the screen once more to “flip” the cards and see what you purchased. I guess this was to add to the card game style — to make players feel more like they had actually purchased a pack of cards, and were holding them in their hands. It’s quite cute, but I found that it annoyed me to have to do this each and every time.
All in all, I am glad that I decided to try Monster Monpiece out. I might not have enjoyed it as much as I thought I would, but I can see how those of you who like the little extras found in a game could enjoy this title. For the price point of $29.99 with about 30-35 hours of main gameplay time, you will definitely get your money’s worth!
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.