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7:21 PM on 07.19.2015

Fantasica Review (Android)

This is my first review for a non MMO game and I am a harsh critic, but I base it on my opinion and the features that I like. There are a lot of features that I dislike and I will make it known that I absolutely despise those features. Examples include things like selling equipment in the item mall, random box roulettes for decorative items, and stamina/fatigue systems. One of the things that have gotten my interest is Trading Card Games (TCGs). In all my years, I've largely been disappointed with TCGs as video games. Even Hearthstone kind of bothered me because of the random luck in Arena and the disproportionate rewards from longer wins. Since then, I've been jumping around all consoles in an attempt to look for a decent TCG. The only thing that came close to this for me was DevPro and Yugioh, but that gives you all cards from the start, killing the joy of collecting. I recently found Fantasica, a weird hybrid of Tower Defense and TCG. Even though this game is 3 years old already, it still looked pretty good.

Story:
Although the game is divided into chapters, I cannot find out if there is an actual story. It just seems to be a collection of missions that end with a boss battle. There is no story that actual binds the game together, but that is fine. The early stages have a 1 minute cooldown, but later stages have 5 minutes and some challenge stages have 1 hr cooldowns.

Fantasica Banner

Graphics:
The graphics of the game are pretty simple. They remind me of the old SNES sprites. The placed characters simply attack with a projectile or instant hit effect. What I really like is the art of the game. The cards come in a variety of styles. Some of them remind me of the old Final Fantasy Tactics art style where as others resemble something out of Lineage II. In general, the common cards (2* and below) seem to lack defining features whereas the rarer cards (6* and up) begin to feature more elaborate art work. The even rarer ones even have a background and seems like something that could be used as a wallpaper if it was released in a high enough resolution. For all of the TCGs out there, the artwork is one of the best.

Gameplay:
The game gives you a few 2* cards that are fairly decent to start off. Each card has several stats. Land attack determines how much damage you deal to most non-flying enemies. Air attack determines how much damage you deal to flying enemies. Sea attack determines how much damage you deal to amphibious creatures. In addition to this, each card also has a speed stat that determines how quickly a card attacks. S seems to be the fastest followed by A and all the way down to E as the slowest. In addition to this, cards at 4* and higher have a bonus effect that is rated from 4 to 9 with 9 being the most powerful. These effects include boosting other card types, slow, poison, knockback, and area damage. Each card also has a cost rating that determines how many points you need in order to actually use it in a stage. More powerful cards have a higher cost, but the stats rise exponentially, so that a single 6* card with a cost of 30 will greatly outperform multiple 5* cards.

The game has a pretty thorough tutorial that teaches you all of the gameplay features of the game. It introduces you to each type of enemy and even has an advanced tutorial that teaches you how to optimize the placement of the units for the maximum amount of damage. This feature is very nice and allows you to test how well you've learned the game and shows you what you can do with a limited selection of cards. What it does not do well though is teach you how to use your allies and how important they are since they do not require any points to be placed. These are extremely important in helping you through nearly every stage in the game, so it is important to make as many allies as possible early on.

There are a couple of game modes available. The first one is quest, which is the standard tower defense. This is the main game mode. In each stage, you begin with a certain amount of points to spend on placing your characters with a cap on the number of units you can actually place yourself, and a cap on the number of allied units you can call for help. Allies are important as they do not require any points to place. The game is divided by episodes with about 6 to 7 stages in each episode. The final stage has a boss and once you defeat it, you unlock 3 challenge stages. The first requires you to complete a stage with strong enemies using only a single unit. The second requires you to complete a stage with strong enemies using only your allies. The third stage requires you to complete a stage with extremely strong enemies without the help of allies. The number of units you can place and allies you can place are often inversely related, so if you can only place 3 units, chances are you can place 3 allies. If you can place 4 units, then you can probably only place 2 allies. Using your allies grant you some points that you can use to raise skills that provide passive boosts to various effects including increasing an energy cap or boosting the effects of your units.

The second game mode available is simply reffered to as training. Your leader unit goes down a single hall and instantly kills anything but a boss in a single attack. This mode gives your leader unit experience and some luna (standard currency) to spend. You have a chance to find monster cards as well and at the end of 5 stages is a boss unit. You have to defeat it to move on to the next chapter. Higher chapters give more luna and experience. 

In addition to the two game modes above, there are constantly ongoing events that introduce new cards. The events give you points based on how well you did and you earn rewards as you earn more points. These range from collecting certain items (often gifted by players to each other) or by killing bosses that randomly spawn in special training stages. It is fairly hard to do these without at least a 6* card, but with a 5* card or powerful allies, you can probably earn more 5* cards in these events. You also get a bonus reward if you are able to place overall in the top 3000 or so. This ranking is based on something called BT Points for each event and basically measures how well you did in an event. Without any 6* cards though, you will most likely struggle.

The last feature is something for monster type cards. They are used in Battle mode where an enemy can attack you and they win if your monster cards cannot get past their line of defense. It gets you a nice amount of money, but there is a 1 hr cooldown for this, so it isn't something that you can do very often. In addition to this, you can also send your monster cards out to search for items. With some luck, they will bring you back tickets that you can use to get some better cards though it is 4 hours per attempt.

As you complete each stage, you gain experience for any of the cards you used and they can be leveled up. You can also give them experience by sacrificing other cards, but it requires a large amount of luna to do so. There are also items to increase the level cap of high level cards, but should be done so wisely, preferably with cards that are at an extremely high rarity because they get the most out of it. The stat difference between common cards and rare cards are huge  because rare cards have exponentially higher stats. For comparison, a 10* card can easily have double the stats of a 6* card when maxed out and the cost rating only goes up from about 25 to 40. Considering that using only two cards is often enough to clear most stages, cost is not a factor once you realize that you can use your allies to fill up the rest of the slots.

Although this game is free to play, I found a huge barrier when it came to acquiring new cards. Most players will only be able to obtain tickets that are 4* tickets, which give you a chance of getting cards that are 4* or higher. However, the odds of getting anything better than 5* are extremely low and these tickets are already hard to come by. Your daily free draws and draws from Brave Points rarely give anything more than 2* and I have not even seen a 3* from it yet. 6* or higher cards require an absurd amount of BT Points or event points in order to obtain and there just seems to be no way to even earn that much without first acquiring another 6* card that is already leveled up. 10* cards are essentially only available from spending real money. They say you can earn them from events, but when it is limited to the top 100 or so players instead of being based on percentage of participants or even allowing older 9* and 10* cards being obtainable from some kind of legacy packs, it becomes extremely difficult to acquire unless you save up all your free cooldown resets for a single event and burn through them there to try to earn it. Your only other option is to hope your monster cards can find a rare ticket and you get extremely lucky with a draw. If they changed the rewards to be percentage based, then it might be better. Otherwise, you will be stuck with 5* cards until your day 7 of login for a 6* and day 30 of login for a 7*. Any higher require events. Sadly, I started near the end of their anniversary, so I missed the chance to get the 9* free card that requires 22 or so days in July to acquire, but this is supposedly the only time they have done such a thing. If they did this more, it might have been better.

Overall: 6/10
The game combines elements of TCG with tower defense, creating something that is kind of unique. Ultimately though, the game suffers because you are locked out of the top tier cards unless you spend real money. Had they introduced a decent way of obtaining them, it would have been okay, but the current methods for obtaining them are basically restricted to those who have real money to spend to reduce cooldowns and earn event points. It seemed like this was ultimately a result of serial escalation and the release of rarer and more powerful cards at a constant pace in order to keep the money flowing in. 

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