Since I don't see a review on dtoid, I thought I'd repost the review of this game from my personal blog for your perusal. Spoilers: It's pretty decent, even if some of the extra bits are annoying as hell.
OK, I have to confess that I never thought this would get a western release and was a little adamant about buying it but decent word of mouth and general curiosity won me overÖ So letís take a look at monster monpiece for the PS Vita
At its core, this is collectible card battle game (think Yu-Gi-Oh or Weiss Schwarz) with a tower defence base to the battle mechanic. But if youíve heard anything about this game recently, itís probably due to the additional mechanic used when you want to upgrade your cards. Weíll get into that laterÖ
And because the game is aiming squarely for the otaku market, every character in this game as well as every card you collect is female. Cue sexism outrage!!! All done? OK. The core of the game is a somewhat simple but surprisingly deep battle system where you and an opponent face eachother in a 7X3 grid. You control 3◊3 squares on one end, the opponent takes the same space on the opposite side and a single neutral area separates the 2. The object of the game is to attack your opponents base on the opposite end of the field. To do this, you summon monsters on your side of the field and every turn after they are summoned, they will either advance one space or attack an adjacent enemy card. Once they reach the opponents end of the field, the card will then attack the enemy base and deal 1 piece of damage to the base. Once the enemy base runs out of HP, they lose. Simple!
There are 4 different types of cards, melee units (who attack adjacent cards for high damage), ranged units (who do less damage but can hit from further away), healers and buffers (who strengthen the ally card itís next to). Cards have varying stats and some have special abilities, such as being able to move forward as soon as they are summoned, and more powerful skills which can affect areas of the board. Monsters are summoned using mana, which is generated at a variable rate but by default, is 3 mana per turn. You can increase the amount you get by summoning special cards or by utilizing a special chain feature in the game. Each card is given one of four colours. If you summon 3 monsters in succession, each corresponding summon will net you a small bonus which includes stat buffs for your cards on the field and additional mana. Still with me so far? Like all other card games, it looks complicated when you read the rules but is actually very simple when you just play it.
Monster cards can also be upgraded by paying a certain amount of points (obtained by winning battles) and then playing a minigame where you rub the artwork on the card and find a weakpoint to exploit. Youíll end up rubbing, poking and pinching your card to raise a bar and, if you fill it, youíll upgrade the card to its next form. And if you do it well enough, you might also get the extreme rub mode where you rub the front and back touchpads to fill the bar up extra quickly, all the while being ďserenadedĒ by the voice of the monster sounding aroused. Unsurprisingly, this is what most western publications has latched onto as being inappropriate and started waving the sexism banners and generally saying theyíre outraged. Personally, I donít care. Call me insensitive but Iím just tired of everyone trying to point out that everything is sexist. Itís good to raise awareness of problems within the male dominated games industry but now, itís just turning into noise. I have a different problem with it, which Iíll get into later.
The game itself is wrapped around a simple but serviceable story involving a quest to save your friend from some evil power which has possessed her. A staple story from old school RPGs. Itís not going to win awards but it does the job and the characters are likeable enough to encourage you to keep going.
Thatís about it for the info. How did it play?
Very deep battle system
Ė when you start playing the game, it does feel very simple, especially when your initial cards are lacking in any special abilities but when you start getting other cards with skills and whatnot, you can really start messing around with strategies and turn situations around in the blink of an eye!
donít always upgrade
Ė The traditional wisdom is that when you upgrade something, the result (if successful) is generally better. Maybe thereís a tradeoff where theyíre harder to use or summon in card games like this but thereís not really a reason to not upgrade if possible. Thatís not the case in monster monpiece. Some cards may actually get weaker when you upgrade but they try to offset it by something else. One example is one of my ranged cards losing attack power and HP in exchange for longer range. You actually need to think about whether or not you want to upgrade your card!
Neptune is in it!!
Ė Initially a pre-order bonus in Japan, Neptune from Hyperdimension Neptunia is in the game as a summon card! Rubbing her changes her to black heart and you can do the same again to change her back. Itís a minor thing but itís really cool to see her in this game. Kinda makes you hope that the other goddesses might join her at a later date as DLC.
Destined to lose
Ė This is a card game remember so ultimately, there is a huge element of luck involved and you will almost certainly find yourself in situations where the heart of the cards abandons you and find yourself in an unwinnable situation through no fault of your ownÖ
The Rub system
Ė Yep, I donít like it but not because of the whole sexism thing but rather because it detracts from the game itself. Itís an unnecessary distraction which feels like it was placed in purely because they wanted a gimmick which they could market. The main game itself is solid but doesnít grab peoples attention as much as the rub systemÖ
Awkward deck building
Ė One of my pet bugbears about the game is that it makes it difficult to see various cards when you want to upgrade or build a new deck. The game separates cards which are in a deck from ones in your stockpile and once you upgrade a card to its max level, it can no longer be seen in the upgrade screen so you canít use it for future reference unless you go to a separate menu. It just adds frustration and gets in the way.
No Auto-save feature
Ė I canít believe that they didnít put this in the game! You need to manually save the game in order to continue your progress if you close the game down. Even though there are chapters in the game story and clear points where it could be easily implemented, the game tells you straight up that you need to save the game yourself. And that includes after youíve edited your deck as well! Now this wouldnít be a major issue if it wasnít for the next bitÖ
BUGGY AS FUCK!!!
Ė I canít believe that this game was released with as many bugs as it has! Most are centered around the card packs (how you get additional cards) and the rub system. At times, the game will just simply freeze and the only way to progress is to restart the game. Now, imagine †that youíve progressed a fair bit in the story and upgraded a fair few cards when this bug freezes your game. Did you manually save recently? No?? Well, tough shit!! Iíve had to repeat a fair amount of rubbing and battling to progress purely because the bugs in this game appear at the most inopportune moments and force me to restart the system. well screw you too!! Thereís also some bugs present in the online multiplayer. Iíve only played a few games but Iíve lost entire turns at random because the timer for my turn just bugged out. Iím given 30 seconds to make a move, I immediately pick up a card and then the game suddenly says pass for some reason despite me not pressing the button to pass my turnÖ Hopefully, that problem doesnít arise in ad-hoc mode.
Overall, I have to admit that I have enjoyed the game far more than I expected and the card battle system is really quite deep and fun. If you can ignore the problems presented with the distracting rub system, itís really quite fun. Having said that, I cannot recommend the game to anyone until the publisher patches out the damn bugs!! What makes it worse is that, apparently, only Europe is affected so this might take a while and believe me, you donít want to have to save everytime before you upgrade a cardÖ