God created man, and man created Monster Girls. This leads us to the logical conclusion that monster girls are Gods given gift unto the world. Jokes aside, Monster Monpiece is a surprisingly deep card battle game where you collect and fight Monster Girls in a school setting. Oh, and you also touch these monster girls in order to level them up, but we’ll get to that later on in the review.
After a long winded introduction that details the existence of monster girls in the world of Yafanir, we’re introduced to our timid protaganist May and her monster partner Fia. These two are complete opposites when it comes to their personalities, but their friendship blossoms (in more ways than one). We’re also introduced to May’s friends Elza and Karen and learn that they’re monster girl masters “in training” at Kunaguvu academy.
The girls set off to a rival academy to battle and grow as monster masters. Things turn sour when May’s friend Elza is mind controlled into a “Lost” by the games main antagonist. It’s up to May and Fia to save Elza and put an end to this mysterious villain.
I’ve never been one to play card games like Hearthstone or Shadowverse, since nothing about them really appealed to me besides the artwork, but Monster Monpiece takes that idea and puts a new spin on it. Battles take place on a grid system in which you summon cards to take down the enemy’s stronghold. Contrary to other card games which tend to be top-down two dimensional games, this grid system is in 3D and units automatically move one space each turn. This method of combat is much more appealing than comparable games.
At the beginning of each battle, a display details how many stronghold attacks are needed for you to win or lose. Immediately afterwards a coin toss determines which player goes first. Each duelist has a set pool of mana which increases the more turns go by, but depletes with every card you summon. You can skip turns to gain more mana, at a loss of being unable to place a card on the field.
Cards are split up into different classes and colors. Your main attackers are sword and bow units, while buffers and healers add support to the front line offensive. Card placement plays an extremely important role if you want to win your battles efficiently. Using buffs and multipliers to your advantage can quickly turn the tides in a losing battle.
I was pleasantly surprised at how deep the battle system is, there are plenty of advanced mechanics readily available for you to take advantage of should you decide to. The tutorials are clear and concise, which is a nice change of pace for most Vita ports that tend to shove a dictionary full of information down your throat in 30 seconds. It’s easy to play passively or aggressive and still feel rewarded in Monster Monpiece.
Decks are comprised of 30 cards with a maximum amount of 40. With the ability to fuse duplicate cards, you’ll want to comprise your deck of some repeats to reap the benefits. Fusing boosts the attack power, mana and hp of your card on the field, at the risk of losing some special abilities.
When you’re not in combat you’ll be setting up your card deck, purchasing and selling cards and leveling up existing cards. This is where Monpiece gets its controversial infamy from. In the original version, the player would have to stroke his or her Vita like that one thing guys do late at night behind closed doors.
This method of leveling up cards isn’t present in the same fashion on PC of course, due to the nature of the platform. Instead of lewdly stroking your Playstation Vita, you’ll be tapping, touching, pinching and sliding your mouse or joystick around to interact with your monster girl. While not as controversial, you’ll still be provided with lewd noises and expressions as you mercilessly level up your monster girl.
Dialog and story are provided through a visual novel interface. Characters look fantastic visually and feel life-like with their candid facial expressions. In terms of voice acting, the Japanese dub is top-notch. If you’re a fan of English voices, I’m sorry to say, but you’re outta luck here. While the soundtrack isn’t anything to write home about, it certainly plays its part and works well with the tone of the game.
Idea Factory has earned my trust when it comes to providing quality console ports to PC. Monster Monpiece has all the settings you would expect to find in a PC port and these days that’s honestly a big plus. I can’t tell you how many Japanese console ports fail to offer basic menu items like an exit game button or full-screen options.
If you’re in the market for a card game with a new spin on gameplay and a nice story on top of it all, Monster Monpiece is an easy sell and worthy of your attention. Take it from me, considering I’ve never been a fan of card games and this one’s got me hooked. I’m hoping more games in similar fashion make their way to PC along with the rest of Compile Heart’s Genkai Tokki games.