So, Monster Monpiece was brought to my attention when I was looking for Vita games to get. Kotaku ran a couple of pieces on it. These articles highlighted the absurdity of the rub mechanic, the fact that a censored version coming to the west, combined the gratifying and fun battle experience they described drew me in.
I’m not a card game guy; I can play (and lose) at MTG, Hearthstone, Pokémon. I like simple and obvious rules, such as rock/paper/scissors only having win/lose/tie outcomes. Easy to predict and plan. The wonderfully creative Magic Pengel had an amazing hook in how you could create your own creatures. Essentially 3D modeling using a digital paintbrush! The battle system was rock/paper/scissors, very simple but lock based so it was infuriating when your luck was poor. But, the creation aspect made it worth going through the battles.
It seems like Monster Monpiece is the exact opposite: The “rub” mechanic is offputting, but the battle system is so intriguing and fun to play that I’m willing to put up with the embarrassing actions required to level up my cards. I’m no prude, I’m familiar with the cultural differences between the west and Japan, but for some reason this rubs me the wrong way (yes, pun). Heck, because I’m so staunchly against censorship I want to download a mod with all the original card versions just to silently protest it.
But, put the game in my hands and tell me to rub it… it just feels icky.
Here are the explanations for how the rub system works, as told by the game (sorry, game won’t let me screen cap so I had to use my phone!):
Anyways, let’s talk about the actual battle mechanic, and I’ll do my best to fully outline it and describe my beginner strategies. There are a few things that weren’t obvious, even though the tutorials are thorough yet succinct. Hopefully this can help you out.
The battlefield is a 3×7 grid, you control the left 3×3, your enemy controls the right 3×3, and the middle column is no man’s land. The goal is to damage your enemy’s base with a physical attack from the squares touching it (the far right). It can also end if a player runs out of cards (so I suggest you fill your deck to the full 40 to prevent this). The game starts with a coinflip, determining who goes first. Sometimes you have 5 cards, sometimes 6. I haven’t pinned down if this is based on your starting position or just dependent on the enemy you are battling.
You place a card, and it can’t move that turn (unless it has a special ability). It can attack that turn though, so you can place it in attack range. Most cards won’t counter attack, so you trade blows based on who’s turn it is. If there is space to move, at the end of the turn the characters will advance one then attack.
Each card has basic attack, health, and (if magic based) mana. Anything with mana acts mainly as a support, but can attack if needed. Health carries over, so if the card had 4 health and took 2 damage, next turn it will only have 2 health (as opposed to MTG’s health reset each turn). Attacks for most cards require them to come in contact with another, however there are some characters with range attacks. These can attack from multiple spaces away, either acting as the backlines behind a physical character, or avoiding an enemy’s attack for a few turns while they creep closer.
Above talks about the physical and ranged attackers, but it doesn’t list the magic types. One (the fairy type) can heal the card in front of it, based on it’s own mana. Then there is another which acts as a buff, increasing attack (or defense, I believe) of the card in front of it. So far all of the cards I’ve encountered need to be touching in order for these magic types to assist.
Now, I haven’t gotten into the even further break down of stacking same species cards to combine their stats (combining health, attack, and mana), nor how if you play 3 of the same aura (4 basic colors) in a row you’ll get a massive health, damage, and manaboost. Playing the auras and stacking monster species in the right order can put you on solid ground quickly.
But, that isn’t to say these techniques are perfect, these are just the basics. I have played over 5 chapters so far, and decided to give online play a chance. I was soundly and thoroughly defeated. It would have been embarrassing if our decks weren’t so mismatched. The other player had obviously rubbed the love thoroughly into his cards, so much so that my best card was likely his worst.
Oh, and you can buy blind cardpacks (and card unlocks, rub points, in game coins, etc) with real money. I’m opting to stay away from that since I paid full price for the game.
I guess I should get into another interesting aspect: you can buy different voicepacks for the cards. Some cards are limited to certain packs. There are four free voicepacks, with the remainder being between $.49 and $.99 each. These range from all the dating-sim character tropes such as “Tsundere” and “Spoiled Sis” to “Spacey” and “Queen”. I honestly didn’t know there were enough differences between “withdrawn”, “sheltered”, “reclusive” girl voice types to warrant their own voice packs! (these are all in Japanese, of course).
For sale on the PSN network for the PlayStation Vita, $30. Tasty Whale bought and paid for this game.