I love a good digital card game that's not overly complicated, but engaging enough to keep my interest over time. Monster Monpiece is like that, except wrapped in an anime package that might unfortunately turn some people off. Compile Heart is notorious for making games with sexualized Moe (young looking anime characters) girls, and Monster Monpiece is no different. If you're willing to overlook that simple fact, you'll find a pretty decent card game that's quite addicting.
The mechanics are quite simple. The battlefield is comprised of two 3 by 3 squares, with a single row of squares separating them down the middle. You then summon cards on your side while the opponent does the same. Each turn, the summoned unit moves forward towards the opponent's base, or attacks the card that's in front of it. Reduce your opponent's base HP to 0 and you win. Simple right?
It sounds easy, but there are underlying mechanics at play which make the entire match seem much more strategic. First of all, each unit can be one of four classes: a powerful melee class, a ranged class, a healer class and a mage class that buffs other units. Placing down a melee attacker and having her survive the next blow from the opponent with just a sliver of health doesn't mean that unit will go to waste the next round. Place a healer behind it, and it will continually heal the unit. Similarly, low powered ranged units can be buffed up by placing a mage card behind it, raising its attack.
Each card also has a specific type name, such as Beast, Dragon, Bird, Nature, etc. You can fuse two cards of the same type on top of each other, and their stats will add together, producing a much more formidable opponent. The best part about fusing is that it can be done while on the opponent's side as well, and not just on your starting area. Then there are Card Aura's or colors. Summoning three cards in succession that have the same color Aura will provide each summoned card on the battlefield with increased stats.
Lastly, some cards come with added Potential, which are extra skills that can activate on top of their attacks. For example, some cards can move forward as soon as they're summoned, or come with increased health.
Where things take a turn for the weird, and where a lot of people will be put off, is the upgrading mechanics of each card. After each match, you earn Rub Points. Every card has a certain number of Rub Points needed to be upgraded. The act of upgrading literally boils down to rubbing each card's character in places that they like it. You read that right. You'll be tasked to rub and poke various places of each girl, usually in a spot that you'd expect, such as her breasts or groin, but sometimes you'll have to venture off to their thighs, their tails and sometimes their heads and ears. It's as weird as it sounds.
Each girl also has a special zone that when rubbed activates a climax of sorts, which then has you furiously rubbing the front and back of the Vita, resulting in an action that– well, you get the idea. Once upgraded, the cards actually change their looks, and usually result in losing an article of clothing, or just wearing something a little more revealing.
Upgrading a card won't always result in increased stats, however. Sometimes a card will lose some health or attack points in exchange for an unlocked Potential as I discussed above.
It's here that Monster Monpiece will undoubtedly lose some fans, which is unfortunate because the card battle mechanics are done so well. But at the same time, I can see a lot of players being uncomfortable with having to rub down girls that sometimes look like they're 10, only to have them appear in their underwear. And the bigger problem is that this is an unavoidable situation. It's practically mandated in order to progress through the game and make your cards more powerful.
Oddly enough (and this is kind of a missed opportunity here) the cards that you summon on the battlefield never actually represent the look of the character on the card. Instead, they're always generic looking archers or swordsmen. Not even the color of their hair is represented. It's strange, given the focus put on making these cards look as sexy as possible, that the in-game character models don't also represent that.
Monster Monpiece could have had wider appeal, but its questionable and unavoidable upgrade mechanic will have most people turned off, ironically. It's a shame because what's left of the game is damn fun. It's a Compile Heart game in the end, so fans of the developer already know what to expect. TCG fans looking for the next virtual fix should tread carefully.