Monster Monpiece (PS Vita) Review

By Shane Jury 16.06.2014 3

Review for Monster Monpiece on PS Vita

For gamers that invest primarily in Nintendo consoles, the name Compile Heart might be an unknown commodity. A Japanese publisher, and a division of Idea Factory, Compile Heart specialises in RPGs that appeal to their resident country. As such, very few aside from games like HyperDimension Neptunia and Record of Agarest War have made it over, and those all graced the recent Sony platforms. Monster Monpiece is separate from those brands, yet shares the foundation of anime-style visuals and settings, and a year on from its original release it makes the journey to Europe and America. Does the Vita have another heavy hitter to call its own, or does Monster Monpiece rub people up the wrong way?

Monster Monpiece wastes little time in establishing its game mechanics and audience intentions. For instance, within five minutes of starting the story up it teaches the basics of the Card Game system and shows the complete omission of the male gender with both card monsters and main human characters. Although the fan service ratio across the board is unashamedly high, the core plot has little reliance on it from a lore perspective. Taking place on the planet of Yafanir, the player is put into the shoes of May, a student of the Academy of Kunaguvu that teaches humans to peacefully co-exist with Monster Girls - creatures that can be befriended and sealed within special cards. When one of her friends is corrupted by a mysterious enemy, and thus uses her monsters for nefarious purposes, May and a small accompanying entourage must journey across the realms to stop this new foe. This narrative flows at a steady pace via a sub-linear world map and throws up a curveball every now and then to keep the player invested.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PS Vita

The core of the game's structure, the Card Game itself, is an interesting beast. Deceptively simple-looking, thanks to a basic seven-by-three square grid structure for the field, this system takes the concept of Tower Defence and runs with it. Each player has a three-by-three portion of the field to place their own cards on with a neutral zone in-between, and at the end of each turn, previously played cards will move one square forward towards the foe's base, attacking should they reach it, with the goal of reducing the points from three to zero. Defending is only possible from the opposing player by placing their own cards in the way, and when two meet they battle. Each card has Hit Points, Attack Points, and depending on the occupation of the individual card (ranging from simple Warriors, Archers that can attack from further away, Healers that aid the friendly card in front of them, and Spellcasters that can boost a friendly's striking power), Magic Points.

These are the basics, but the game gradually introduces more variants, such as fusing one type of monster to another or creating a chain of similarly-coloured cards placed one after another, or taking advantage of a monster's special ability. Each card has a Mana Point requirement that increases by three each round but can be affected by monster abilities, allowing for more balanced play and avoiding the scenario of one player just using the strongest possible cards. All this adds up to a surprising amount of strategy to the game, and with Online Play and Free Play allowing for battling previous opponents again it might not be just the fan service that keeps interest.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PS Vita

Speaking of which, Monster Monpiece's obvious titillation does extend beyond visual expectancy through the use of the 'First Crush Rub' mode. This mode requires the player to tap and touch the full-screen portrait of their chosen card, or at times vigorously rub both Touch Screens on the Vita like a *ahem* bicycle pump, to level-up their monsters into stronger forms that conveniently shed more clothing as they move up. This mode is a unique selling point for the game and a highly entertaining manner of level grinding, but this is probably nonetheless best done outside of the public eye.

Although the game is has standard anime-style backdrops and portrait characters, it is still pleasing to the eye. Character design is nicely varied and imaginative at points with certain cards, and the menus and text are clear and concise, with excellent tutorials popping up when needed.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PS Vita

The audio in Monster Monpiece is worth a mention also. Compile Heart has kept the Japanese voice work intact for that extra bit of authenticity and slapped on English subtitles to accompany them. Aside from a rare typo or two, they do the job well.

For each nation visited, the battlefield is given a different background theme, and here is where the Vita's audio shines. Usually themed after the nation's backdrop, like a cool-yet-serene tune for snowy mountains or an upbeat vocal track for a Japanese-inspired society, these melodies will have many reaching for headphones to enjoy them in full.

Monster Monpiece's story is of a respectable length, but the real value of the game lies in collecting all the cards and levelling them up, and then taking a well-prepared deck online to duke it out with the rest of the world. Specialised lobbies that allow for beginners and experienced players alike to find a foe on equal footing, and even a Downloadable Content shop with exclusive cards, provide strong replay incentive after the main game is done. For a completely new IP with a card game rule-set made from scratch and an upfront attitude to pleasing an Otaku audience, Monster Monpiece certainly leaves an impression.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Monster Monpiece is a game that not only strengthens the Vita library with another enjoyable yet distinctive title, but also benefits from the host hardware to a degree that it would be difficult to see it working elsewhere. A compelling card game basis coupled with excellent online support and somewhat distracting art assets make for a download that Vita owners should keep an eye on.

Developer

Compile Heart

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Well it's never too late for this dev team to start supporting Nintendo. Not EVERYONE wants to own a sony platform so it's good for this group to start sharing with Nintendo & Microsoft...especially since Nintendo has been a VERY well known Japanese company for much longer than sony has.

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

Something of note I wanted to add outside of the review. Monster Monpiece has actually been censored for western release, and anyone playing it right now would probably agree with me when I say it's hard to believe, going by the finished product. I will say though that this is one time I completely agree with the censorship.
There's a perfect image to show for it, but it is very, very much NSFW, so you'll have to look for it if you're interested. Smilie

( Edited 18.06.2014 21:39 by Phoenom )

Phoenom said:
Something of note I wanted to add outside of the review. Monster Monpiece has actually been censored for western release, and anyone playing it right now would probably agree with me when I say it's hard to believe, going by the finished product. I will say though that this is one time I completely agree with the censorship.
There's a perfect image to show for it, but it is very, very much NSFW, so you'll have to look for it if you're interested. Smilie

Well censorship never bothered me if it's for a good reason.

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

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