Monster Monpiece (PS Vita) Review
- Genuinely enjoyable card battle game that has a solid story mode and online play.
Not so much?
- Powering up cards by 'rubbing' girls will be distasteful to many potential players who would otherwise enjoy the game.
In the world of Yafaniel, humans and monster girls work together, honing their skill and pitting themselves against each other in card battle games. But for apprentice master May and her new monster girl partner Fia, what was meant to be a training exercise takes a deadly turn when May’s best friend becomes possessed by […]
In the world of Yafaniel, humans and monster girls work together, honing their skill and pitting themselves against each other in card battle games. But for apprentice master May and her new monster girl partner Fia, what was meant to be a training exercise takes a deadly turn when May’s best friend becomes possessed by an evil force. Now May and Fia must hone their skills by battling monster girls across the land, in the hopes of catching Elza and putting a stop to her plans.
It may attempt to frame the action with a plot that is weak and nonsensical at best, but Monster Monpiece has one goal and one goal only – to offer you a steady stream of turn-based card battles. The battle mechanics are easy to grap – every turn, you can spend mana to summon your girls to your side of the field, where they then steadily advance on enemy HQ. If you manage to breach the enemy defences and score hits on their HQ, victory is yours – similarly, if the enemy annihilates your forces and attacks your HQ, you’ll suffer defeat.
The basic idea is simple enough, but on top of this, there are plenty of features designed to add a bit of depth and strategy to the game. As veterans of card battle games will no doubt expect, there are different types and classes of card, including front line fighters, ranged attackers, healers and buffers (cards which boost other cards). Cards of the same species can be combined on the field to form powerful fusion monsters, whilst many monsters come with special abilities that can boost you or weaken your enemy. You’ll accumulate cards either through buying them or winning them in battle, and the key is to build a powerful yet balanced deck that can take advantage of the various skills and combinations available.
That being said, whilst the gameplay is certainly solid enough to sustain a player’s interest, it can’t help but pale in comparison to the likes of long-running franchises such as Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh. Although the game gives you the option of saving several different deck configurations, this isn’t something you really need – pretty much all your enemies have similar decks and strategies, and a one size fits all deck will get you through the game perfectly well. There’s absolutely no need for specialist deck structures to counter specific enemies, and indeed, sometimes the story mode battles can feel a little routine.
If you do get bored with fighting the computer, however, Monster Monpiece will also let you go online and compete against other humans. Online battles also let you win rewards that you can’t get from story mode, and although there are few enough players on the servers that finding a match can be a bit of a test of patience, it adds extra longevity to the gameplay experience.
So far, so straightforward – but the one thing I’ve yet to touch upon is Monster Monpiece’s unique and somewhat controversial levelling up system. All the cards in the game have the potential to be levelled up to more powerful forms, but the mechanism for doing so is to find the ‘sensitive spots’ of the monster girl on the card, and rub her in those spots until her satisfaction gauge fills up and she removes some of her clothes. It’s an obvious gimmick, and one that boosted sales of the game, but it’s more than likely to leave many Western players feeling a little uncomfortable. In fact, once you get used to it, the rubbing system isn’t that bad, but it’s bound to put more than a few people off of playing the game in the first place. And it’s not something you can avoid if you do choose to play – if you don’t level up your cards, you’ll never have a strong enough deck to beat either computer or human players.
Given that Monster Monpiece is a game that wants to encourage you to rub pretty monster girls, it’s no surprise that the visuals are aesthetically pleasing. A number of different artists have contributed monster girl designs, and so a range of styles are on show, although some of the less clothed images have been censored for the Western release. Battle and map graphics are functional but hardly pushing the Vita to its limits. Similarly, the background is nothing special, although it is irritatingly catchy at times.
Finally, a word of warning to all players in Europe – the EU version of the game is prone to freezing at various points, including upon opening new card packs, finishing the rubbing game or entering the in-game shop menu. As of June 2014, this is a known problem and currently being investigated, but until a patch is released, be sure to save often!
At its core, Monster Monpiece is a solid and enjoyable card battle game, with a substantial story mode, network play, and plenty of different cards to collect. Unfortunately, the levelling up mechanic of rubbing the monster girls is is likely to be distasteful and offputting to many people who would have otherwise enjoyed the game. For those who don’t mind this gimmick, however, this game should provide a decent slice of entertainment.