Review: Monster Monpiece

Wow, we're really on a roll with these translated Japanese games, first the simple pleasures of Demon Gaze, then the more funky realms of Conception II, and now I've got Monpiece and Hyperdimension Neptunia PP to review, at the same time. Guess this is the future for Vita owners, check out the game's trailer first and I'll explain.

A role-playing, card-battling, lady-tickling game, Monster Monpiece starts out at some sort of all-girl academy in the realm of Yafanir, in the town of Kunaguva which has been long under threat from the usual/unusual demons within (the girls are monsters dontchaknow). With much discussion of pie and cookies from May and Helen, typically nervous, confidence-lacking girls, they are soon thrown into some tutorial battle action.

The card games require shuffling your deck to best effect, placing them on a 7*3 board of tiles, and letting them wage war to defeat the enemy and storm the 'castle' HQ, by reaching the end row. With the tide turning back and forth as powers wane and magic flies, it starts out simple but soon becomes a game of high strategy.

With melee, ranged, healer and buff classes, and extra items, stacking cards to boost characters, mixing auras and other bonuses being flung around the board, things become trickier, if not blindingly fun, but still rather addictive.

At least the game isn't stingy with the trophies, chucking half-a-dozen of them out for merely starting the game and completing the tutorial. As you take those first steps, more tutorials come quickly to explain the basics and you can start customising the deck and your gear. A loss only sends you back a step on the map to rethink your plans.

Multiplayer in both ad hoc and network modes brings some relief from the single player game with sets of rings to collect, with the lure of special cards for the winner, and losing them if you rage quit! There's a bit of lag, but nothing horrendous between turns. Its a good place to learn as experienced players show off some strategies you might miss by blitzing through the tutorials, but otherwise you get the same card challenge with a little added incentive.

Visually, Monster Monpiece is nothing to write home about, plain generic-as-you-like characters, basic visuals, a map you can't interact with much, and a simple little 3D world for the battles to take place in. I do love the music, with some driving themes as you power through the levels.

And that'd be it, except for the character upgrading mechanic, which is has its own tactics too. Rather than boosting character stats the usual way, you have have to touch, rub, poke and pinch the girls in the erogenous zones to get them to "perform" and improve. Fine, if you like that in your games, but it'd be neat if you could skip it (I mean this isn't a game you'll be playing on the train or bus) - and to think it's been toned down for a western audience.

If you overlook that, there's a solid card and battle game to enjoy, which gets progressively more challenging as the map expands. If only the story had an ounce of interest to keep me invested in the characters, it'd be an awesome game, but really, you have to ignore that and the stroking, and just concentrate on your decks.

Score: 7/10
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Price: £TBC (PSN)
Compile Heart/Idea Factory
Progress: Tickled til my arm hurt!