Monster Monpiece (PC) Review

By Brandon Howard 27.03.2017

Review for Monster Monpiece on PC

There's some pretty apparent issues with Compile Heart's port of the PS Vita version of Monster Monpiece, and they're more or less immediately noticeable. As Compile's take on a digital collectible card game, the core experience is primarily built around constructing and battling NPCs with a customisable deck of cards. The mark of a good CCG is the joy of constructing and playing with your own deck, and Monster Monpeice does everything it can to make that experience as inaccessible as possible.

Monster Monpiece is a port of the 2014 PS Vita game of the same name, albeit adapted slightly for a PC interface. The protagonist, a shy girl named May, is tasked with using her abilities to bond with "monster girls" and fight with them to prevent disaster. The plot is largely unimportant, and the characters are bland and forgettable, and the monstrously long sections of dialogue only serve to reinforce that.

May, her partner Fia, and their friends Elza and Karen travel across the world, fighting monsters or other girls at every turn. The map is navigated almost like a board game, with different fights and events on each individual space. The individual matches aren't long, but there's enough of them that it starts to feel like a slog before the story has barely even started.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PC

Card battles take place on a 3x7 grid, with a 3x3 section reserved for both May and her opponent, and a single column of neutral territory separating them. On each turn, May recovers mana, which she can use to play any one of the five cards in her hand, drawn randomly from a deck of 30-40 cards. Each card has its own stats, such as the cost required to play it, health, attack, and another stat used for a couple different types of support cards.

Every turn, May can summon one card to any of the spots on her side of the field, which waits a turn before advancing to her opponent's side. Each player has a set number of HP, and each monster that makes it all the way across the board deals a single point of damage to it. Monsters summoned will attack opposing monsters played during the opponents turn if they're in range, but won't advance a space the turn they're played, barring some special abilities.

May can reinforce her team by fusing monsters of the same tribe (such as bird, beast, and dragon tribes), combining their stats into a more powerful monster. She can also deploy support units which can buff and heal other units directly in front of them. It's not an amazingly deep system, but it's different, and it does hit some of the right notes. The matches do begin to feel samey very quickly, and there isn't really a ton of variety in cards, other than what numbers are printed on them.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PC

This is where a lot of Monster Monpiece's problems come from. A lot of the inherent joy in any card game is the thrill of building a deck in a way that feels rewarding to the person playing it. The elements of personalisation and careful crafting are so shallow here, there's almost nothing about the actual deck building that feels honestly rewarding. The best strategies are obvious very early on, especially with the bonuses those strategies provide, so there's no real reason to try new things or iterate on different deck ideas.

Opening packs doesn't have that usual excitement either. Packs come in either one or three card varieties, which is rather significantly below the common amount in just about any card game. Rare cards are extremely uncommon, which, while fair considering how plentiful money is, still doesn't feel good when looking for that one rare card.

Cards can also be upgraded through the "First Crush Rub" system, which allows May to tap into the hidden powers of her monster girl cards by rubbing their clothes off. Simply put, it's a juvenile fanservice, but that might be slightly forgivable if the system wasn't absolutely terrible to control. The minigame was clearly built for the Vita's touchscreen, and the transition to keyboard/mouse hybrid controls has not done this already inane system any favours.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PC

The upgrade system also provides a rather unclear path with what benefits each card will get, and so some upgrades will just end up making things worse in the long run. Some status effects simply don't mesh well with the cards they end up on, and the whole system feels built more around fanservice than around actually improving the cards, and ultimately, the deck.

Building the deck itself is an outright nightmare, as the interface is so finicky and bizarre, it's almost not worth it to try and put new cards into May's deck. Moving cards between the deck and the collection isn't in the least bit intuitive, and often ends up in swapping cards with ones you were hoping to keep. Sorting and ordering them involves way more work than it should, and May can't even use the same cards across multiple decks.

Nothing about Monster Monpeice is built in a way that accentuates the positives of the card battle system. There's really some interesting ideas here, but they're burdened by the control setup and the fanservice-heavy elements of the upgrade system. The story missions take ages to get through, due to the monster heavy nature of the world map, making every step feel like a grind. The heavily RPG-influenced story just doesn't mesh well with the gameplay, and it's obvious every step of the way.

Screenshot for Monster Monpiece on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Monster Monpiece has a couple of interesting takes on the digital CCG genre, but it's completely hampered by the horrendous controls and its tasteless and aggravating upgrade system. There's understandably some issues with porting a title that utilised a touchscreen for many in-game actions, but the hybrid mouse/keyboard setup feels awful, and the deckbuilding interface is so clunky that it's pure trial and error to navigate the first few times. With so many amazing digital CCGs out there, there's few good reasons to play this one.

Developer

Compile Heart

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

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