Monster Monpiece Review

Title: Monster Monpiece
Developer: Idea Factory International
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.8 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

It is a recently-known fact that some Japanese developers are getting more and more daring when they are choosing which games to localize and bring to the Western regions.  Lately, we have seen that on the PlayStation Vita with the likes of Valhalla Knights 3 and Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars.  These two titles have mini-games and very obvious references to sex and sexual play.  These were titles that made you think “This is actually getting localized?” and the titles are still coming.

Idea Factory International is crossing even more borders into this territory by bringing over some of their titles.  One title in particular is called Monster Monpiece.  This title was very interesting in coming to the West in that not only does the game include some mature content, but it also has gotten what very few titles do get: Censorship.  Monster Monpiece had some of its content censored to deem it acceptable for a release in the West.

Aside from all of the criticism the game gets for being censored, just what is the game and how is it?  We at the PS Vita Review Network, are here to answer those questions.  Having the honor of receiving a review code from Idea Factory, themselves, here is our official review of Monster Monpiece.

Story

The plot of Monster Monpiece takes place in the world of Yafanir.  In this land, there are two massive pillars that are known as the Hammers of God that penetrate the planet.  In this world, there are two races of people, Humans and Monster Girls (Half-Human, Half-Monster female creatures).  These two races co-exist, though Monster Girls may be stores in cards to preserve their energy, and there are many Monster Girls who become insane and “Lost”.

The story of the game revolves around Humans May, Karen, and Elza as well as Monster Girl Fia.  The four of them become friends as they travel throughout the world to perform Card Battles, in which they release Monster Girls to do battle in a grid-based card game.  While doing this, Elsa becomes possessed and “Lost” by an unknown assailant.  Soon after, she begins to steal Magic Quartz from each nation, threatening the fate of the world.  May, Fia, and Karen rush after the Quartz’, themselves, in hopes of saving both the world and their friend.

The plot of the game I wouldn’t call absolutely fantastic, but I wouldn’t call it terrible, either.  It starts out, showing a large struggle from May, but as the game progresses, it shows how their bonds grow strong and come together to achieve their goal.

Gameplay

At its heart, Monster Monpiece is a card collecting and card battling game.  When you first start out the game, you’ll have some scenes to introduce the main characters and will be shown a tutorial for battles as well as navigating the World Map.  As you play the game, you will be exploring various nations of the world, all of which are a play on words for different areas of Japan, like Ho Kaido or Tokio.

Each nation has a grid-like map, where you move from point to point to enter each location.  The locations can be various things.  Some of them can be chests to give you cards or money, some spawn battles, and some are cities, where story scenes will take place.  There will be a main path for you to take, as you move from point to point (Think exploration like Final Fantasy Tactics), but there will also be other branching paths open up as you complete gateways in each nation, where you will be challenged to battles to proceed.

Apart from the map, you also have access to your Head Quarters.  You can access this at any time and you use it for saving your game as well as managing cards and using the shops.  When you first access it, there is a Card HQ as well as a Shop for you to access.  The shops allow you to buy or sell cards and items that you may use in battle.  You may also use this to access the Multiplayer functions, to fight battles with other players.

The Card HQ is used for accessing your cards, opening Card Packs you buy and win, creating Decks to use, and using the First Crush Rub option for powering up cards.  You can make a deck of 40 cards, each representing monster girls.  However, you may only use three copies of each card type/species in a single deck.  So, if you have five Neptune cards, you can only put three of them in your deck to use.  However, you may put the others in a secondary deck, if you create multiple for different uses.

Card Packs can be bought or won and you open these to gain access to 1-3 new cards you can use.  There are various types of packs and a bunch of different cards you have a chance of acquiring.  It’s very similar to obtaining card packs from a Trading Card Game, in real-life or in games, like Yu-Gi-Oh! Or Magic the Gathering.  There are even some that give a “Holographic” effect after you upgrade them, like Ultra-Rare cards in those card games.

First Crush Rub is the key feature to making your cards more powerful, and also the biggest factor that shows just how courageous Idea Factory has been with bringing this game to the West.  When you have your cards, they have stats, and you will want to eventually power them up.  Not only that, but to give them abilities.  You do this by utilizing First Crush Rub.  This will bring your card’s artwork onto the PS Vita screen in a vertical fashion and you will have to rub them.

By using the touch screen, you rub in various “Love” locations on each artwork as they move, jiggle, and moan as you do so.  By rubbing them in a good way, you can boost your Rub Meter and getting up to the top in the Time Limit, you will upgrade the card.  The upgrade could give a card abilities or increase stats.  The other noticeable effect is that their outfit changes, normally resulting in a less-clothed version of the Monster Girl.

This is something that can become very awkward very fast, as most of the “Love” spots are sexual spots on the girl, like her chest or between her lefts, and result in very embarrassed moaning sounds.  This can easily push someone away who doesn’t like this very-sexual aspect of the game, as you will be upgrading cards a lot.  While there are some items that will upgrade them for you, they are not very plentiful.  You will be doing quite a bit of rubbing.

The meat of the game, though, is actually fighting through battles.  This is where most of the game is played and, by far, where most of the fun is.  When you fight someone in a fight, which has that “We must fight a card game to solve this life and death situation” mentality as that of Yu-Gi-Oh! And you’re taken to a grid-like map, showing two 9 x 9 fields with a Base by each, symbolizing each player.  You’re Base has a certain number of HP and, if your HP reaches 0, you lose.

You draw a hand of Monster Girl cards and draw a new one each turn, as well as increasing your number of Mana each turn.  You can summon one Monster Girl per turn on your side of the grid.  Summoning will cost Mana, so you have to have enough Mana to summon to get her out on the field.  If you don’t have enough Mana, you can always Pass on your turn to have more the next turn.

Each Monster Girl has her own set of stats, which include Attack, HP, and Intelligence.  These are all affected in battle, depending on how strong abilities are (if she has abilities), as well as what Class she is.  Sword Class is more often higher in attack, Spellcaster Class is normally more evened out among the three stats, Archers focused on Mid-ranged attacks and has a larger attack range, and Healer is higher on Intelligence and focused on gaining Mana and healing other units.

Your units will move forward one space during each turn and will attack anyone in range.  The attack will be deducted from the enemy unit’s total HP, and they will counterattack if they have the ability to do so.  Your ultimate goal will be to place units in a way to reach the enemy base and not give them a chance to mount a defense against it.  This is tough and requires a lot of strategic thinking and guessing, sort of like when you play chess.

Abilities and Items also play a big part in battles.  You can equip one item to use per battle.  You can use this on any turn and it doesn’t make you skip your monster-summoning.  Items can be simple as healing all of your units, powering them up, or damaging all enemy units.  It is always a smart move to have an item ready, in case you need it.  Abilities are also useful, as they can add an edge, whether it be counterattacking or health regeneration.

When you win a battle, you will gain money to use at the shops as well as Rub Points and a reward, like card packs or items.  Winning a battle also allows you to progress further and get to story scenes and the Boss fights for each area.

The main progression of the game will be going to new areas to fight battles, buy and upgrade cards, experiment with new decks, and repeating the process.  The battles, themselves, are quite engaging and deep in strategy.  Although the main idea is simple, the thought process through everything is quite in-depth.  There is also a fair amount of length involved.  If you explore everything, you can easily get about 25-30 hours in a single play through the game.

Controls

Controls for Monster Monpiece is something that is actually quite interesting.  Many Vita games, as you know, have some button and some touch controls.  A lot of the time, there will be a lot of touch controls, and a few things that you may or have to use the touch screen for.  The interesting thing about Monster Monpiece is that you can control the game, completely, with either one.  There are icons on the screen so if you never want to use the buttons at all, you may do so.  Those flow so well that I found times where I found myself only using the touch screen.

As far as button controls go, you will be using the Left Analog Stick and D-Pad to navigate menus as well as moving the cursor on the World Map.   The Right Analog Stick is not used for much, though.  The X Button is used for confirming an option, and Circle is used for going back.  The R button can be used for toggling whether dialogue automatically moves or requires Button input.

The touch controls go so well that I feel this game was heavily developed for touch controls.  I feel like they flow much more comfortable than the button controls, which is interesting as I am normally someone who prefers button controls.  It’s pretty easy to get a handle on.

Presentation

Monster Monpiece is a very visual game, as can be seen from how colorful and detailed every piece of artwork is in the game.  Most of the game deals with 2D visuals, showcasing 2D sprites as you move around on the World Map as well as Visual Novel-style scenes.  There is a little bit of movement in this, especially in First Crush Rub, where facial expressions change and various parts jiggling.

However, there is a 3D engine that is being used within battles.  Everything in this is in a 3D sense, and the summoned Monster Girls are in complete 3D and the engine doesn’t look bad.  They are all in a chibi-type form, but all of the effects and sprites look very smooth and crisp.  Although you don’t ever see zoomed-in portions, they look about on par with how crisp the models look in Idea Factory’s other recent game, Neptunia PP.

As far as how the game runs, it runs well.  All of the load times are short, around the 2-3 second range, and I did not encounter any lag or crashing issues as I played the game.  It boots up quickly and runs quite well.

Overall

Monster Monpiece is the results of one developer getting daring with bringing a style of game that’s not accustomed to the West to that region.  While the First Crush Rubbing feels like a very awkward and weird sex mini-game, behind it is an engaging card game that has a little Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic the Gathering, and more in the mix.  If you like playing card games, this is definitely worth a play.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Monster Monpiece an 8/10. 

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