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Monster Monpiece (Vita) artwork

Monster Monpiece (Vita) review

"Keep your shameless fan service out of my intelligent card games, thank you very much."

Monster Monpiece (Vita) image

Today, I have the difficult task of convincing you that Monster Monpiece, a game in which you must physically stimulate your PlayStation Vita on a regular basis, is worth your time.

Let me explain. Monster Monpiece is a card game set in an all-female world, which should be empowering, but keep reading. The process of actually upgrading your cards, which you'll need to do when the difficulty sharply spikes, involves physically pleasuring the female characters on them. (I'd call them "women," but I suspect some of them are underage.) You use the Vita's touch screen to poke, pinch and rub various sensitive parts of their body (I'll let you puzzle out where these spots tend to be located), which causes them to moan suggestively. When you hit a streak, you're asked to hold your Vita sideways, place your thumb and index finger on the screen and rear touch pad (respectively), and stroke. Vigorously.

If I have not illustrated this well enough, let me put it simply. Monster Monpiece is a game that forces you to give your Vita a handjob. Oh, and each successful upgrade results in the character stripping off a layer of clothing, and thus a typical deck is full of females many of them furries scantily clad and permanently fixed in "sexy" poses.

I'd love to urge you to look past Monster Monpiece's off-putting over-sexualization and see it for what it really is a rich, satisfying CCG and yet, honestly, if you were to tell me that this single mechanic removes any interest you'd otherwise have in the title, I honestly couldn't blame you. It essentially makes the game unplayable in public, which is a huge black mark for a portable game, one that I'd imagine many people would like to play on buses and trains. Furthermore, it's juvenile and completely unnecessary, a groping mechanic in a game that has nothing to do with groping. I realize that Japanese and Western cultures are quite different, and I even acknowledge that there's a time and a place for this sort of content as long as there's demand for it. But keep your shameless fan service out of my intelligent card games, thank you very much.

Monster Monpiece (Vita) image

And, aside from this one massive misstep, Monster Monpiece is intelligent. It almost plays like turn-based strategy, but with both the element of randomness and the thorough prep work usually associated with card games. Battles are set on 7x3 grids, with one 3x3 home base for each player and a single column of squares between them as a designated neutral zone. Each card moves forward one space per turn, provided there isn't an enemy in the way, and the ultimate goal of a match is to work your way to the end of the table and attack the opposing base. There are melee units, ranged units, attack buffers and healers, all with self-explanatory purposes.

This being a card battle game, it's extremely numbers-driven, despite Monster Monpiece's outward appearance as a JRPG. A character with a "4" attack rating will always deal four points of damage; the game is reliable and easy to comprehend like that. For the first few chapters, the root of victory is simply crunching the stats. There are instances in which you'll plan offensive maneuvers by counting the number of spaces between two opposing cards and ensuring, through correct placement, that you'll be the one who makes the first strike. You'll weigh attack power against HP and get specific results. There are only four unit types and all of the information you need about them is right in front of you.

But then the game's supplementary systems start kicking in, and Monster Monpiece strikes a solid balance between explaining mechanics and allowing players to uncover their effectiveness themselves. You're told that sometimes units have special abilities, but you don't really start paying attention to it until you notice that certain cards are able to counterattack, certain cards can move on the same turn that they're deployed, and certain cards can cast spells under specific circumstances. Then you start noticing those little symbols on the right side of each card and what they signify. Monster Monpiece's learning curve is perfect; the rate at which you come to understand what's on screen is steady.

Monster Monpiece (Vita) image

There are plenty of other tricks involved in staying ahead. Cards are color-coded, and playing three subsequent cards of the same color grants you table-wide performance bonuses. Each character also has a species, and you can actually combine two cards of the same species, which merges their stats and can even be done outside of your default home playing field. And all of these nuances are dictated, to some degree, by the sheer chance needed in drawing the right cards at the right time. This tends to be a make-or-break factor regarding CCGs for many people, but I find that it's worth dragging yourself through the periods of bad luck for those exhilarating instances of everything just sliding together.

It also punctuates just how important it is to build a deck that leaves you prepared for any possible scenario. It may be tempting to exclusively stack your most powerful cards, for example, but each one costs mana to play, and MP ratings obviously go higher the more useful a card is. If you regenerate three MP per turn and a card that you'd like to play has a mana rating of six, that means you'll have to skip at least one turn in order to use it. If that sounds worth it, consider that if the enemy has two units in your territory, and they're each one space away from your base, and neither is obstructed, you can only stop one of them and the other will damage your base. That's a lousy position to be in, and it happens when you forget that there's strength in numbers. Hell, in Monster Monpiece, there's strength in everything.

It's all remarkably well-balanced, multifaceted and consistently engaging, to the point that I'd have no trouble calling Monster Monpiece one of my favorite games of the year so far. Its only real issue (aside from its negligible story, which I honestly stopped paying attention to after a while) is that juvenile upgrade system, but it is admittedly a massive issue. I'd imagine that having to grope female characters in order to level up will turn off quite a few potential players, and it's a shame to think of anyone depriving themselves of such an excellent CCG.

Suskie's avatar
Freelance review by Mike Suskie (June 22, 2014)

Mike Suskie is a freelance writer who has contributed to GamesRadar and has a blog. He can usually be found on Twitter at @MikeSuskie.

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zigfried posted June 22, 2014:

Finally, someone is using the Vita's rear touchpad in a sensible manner.

Sounds like a pretty good game overall. Perhaps I should play it!

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