Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory
Platform: Vita (PSN)
Release Date: May 27, 2014
ESRB: M for Mature
Card games are a ton of fun and even precede video games. Of course, basically any card game out there has been at some point garnered a digital rendition. Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, and Magic the Gathering are some of the biggest names, but brand new card games have been created as well. The latest in this is Monster Monpiece for Vita. It casts players into a magical world where â€œmonster girlsâ€ exist. Students learn to control these monsters with magical abilities which take the form of card battles. Sounds fun, right?
The card gameplay is certainly fun! It pulls from existing games such as Magic but expands in its own directions. Basically, each player has a certain amount of health, so your goal is to whittle the opponent“s down first. This is done by placing cards on a grid and, turn by turn, closing in on their home base. There are three rows to place creatures on and (most) will proceed forward until running into an enemy, at which point a battle is engaged. Of course, there are some instances where battles occur sooner, such as with long-range weaponry.
Each card has stats for attack, health, and intelligence. When two monster girls go to battle they both get a chance at attacking (unless one is killed instantly) and damage each others“ health. Of course, there are ways to boost some or all of their respective stats. For example, there are magical types that will boost health of a card placed directly in front of them. This uses up intelligence points, however. The same holds true for buffing monsters which offer up increased attack.
A few other ways to increase card stats exist. One way is by fusing two cards of the same type, creating a new, more powerful card. Another method is based simply on placing up to three of the same type card in a row. As you can only place one card a turn this takes up to three turns but will provide a boost to every one of your monsters on the field. It“s incredibly helpful, and means you“ll want to restrict how many colors of cards exist in your deck. Magic players will probably find this aspect of Monster Monpiece especially familiar.
So, there“s a lot of strategy required to play well and a lot of it lies with creating a workable deck. Honestly, all this was surprising considering the most obvious aspect of the game, which has nothing to do with card games. Yes, it“s the monster girls themselves. Every card is graced with an image of a scantily clad anime character. As is common of modern anime, most of the girls follow a â€œmoeâ€ design aesthetic which means they are drawn to be incredibly youthful looking. Most games that have to rely on heavily â€œeroticâ€ designs do so because they have little to actually offer players. Hence, it“s a shock that Monster Monpiece actually has good gameplay.
If you“re not particularly interested in the monster girls then unfortunately there“s no way to escape them. They“re present on every card, but that's not all. You see, in order to create more powerful cards you must engage in a ridiculous minigame. You might have seen it featured as part of the game“s advertising.
The minigame has players turn their Vita so it is held vertically at which point a monster girl appears on screen. You must then navigate around the screen (the characters are too large to fit squarely in one â€œscreenâ€) and find their sensitive locations. This might be their ears, tails, thighs, or more obvious body parts. Once found you must tap madly at the spot to raise a meter high enough. At that point you might enter a special rubbing mode where you pinch the Vita to touch both front and rear touch pads and stroke the system vigorously. It“s an incredibly childish minigame and awkward to actually complete.
Although this minigame is never required beyond the tutorial, it is useful if you want to increase the strength of your cards. Yes, there“s a store option but you can only buy blind packs of cards which means there“s no assurance of getting anything good. Well, you can buy rare packs but those cost real money. It's likely too frustrating for people who like this sort of stuff to even enjoy it, either.
Am I condemning the game for its eroticism? No, not in and of itself. In fact there should be more games out there which put a focus on human sexuality and sexiness. Of course, in the gaming realm any attempt at sexiness is usually tied to women characters and rarely focused on men. My main issue with Monster Monpiece“s sexualized characters is that it is a drain on the competent core mechanics. Many card players will avoid it because of its visuals. Those who are not fans of the art but play anyway will roll their eyes far too often. Finally, those who are excited to put money down on a product purely for its supposed sexy characters would likely do so for any similar game. Therefore, the actual quality is of little importance for this group.
Then there are the players willing to accept any visual presentation in the presence of a good story. I'm sorry to report there's not one to be found here. Sure, it helps tie together things from battle to battle but it's fairly average and predictable. There's also a handful of weird writing and typos which further hinder the translation's quality. Of course, the main reason to play is to enjoy the card-based combat and not become enthralled in an epic storyline. It wouldn't hurt, though.
After a while, I started to tune out the art on every card. My mind honed in on what is the most compelling aspect of the game - card battling! Of course, this only would last as long as I was deep in strategic thought. The minute I needed stronger cards and had to do a few rounds of the minigame it all came flooding back. It“s hard to recall the last time I ever had such a love/hate relationship with a game. Every gamer is aware of their own tastes and know if they“ll like, dislike, or plain not care about Monster Monpiece“s presentation. It“s impossible for me to recommend but hopefully, as more informed readers, you now know whether the game is right for you.
+ Great deal of strategy involved in matches
+ Ton of freedom to create deck(s) to fit your play style
+ Online multiplayer
- Sexualized, child-like characters completely overwhelm the game
- Card upgrade minigame is cumbersome
- Unfortunately, â€œgoodâ€ card packs cost real money
- Ho-hum storyline
Overall Score: 5 (out of 10)
Monster Monpiece has some fun, strategic gameplay buried underneath its pubescent exterior for those willing to try it out.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.