Monster Monpiece is a card battle game that was originally released on the PlayStation Vita in May 2014. Developed by Compile Heart, the game was widely discussed as a title with suggestive and risqué content due in large part to the game’s “rubbing” mechanic on Sony’s handheld device. Aside from that central game feature, Monster Monpiece has a surprisingly challenging and strategic card battle system as its primary highlight with the game published on Steam in March 2017.
The game puts you into the shoes of May Esperio, an academy student from Kunaguva, training hard to become a master of monster girls. A shaky and uneasy alliance exists between humans and the Monster Girl species as a result of God’s divine punishment that struck the world of Yanafiel. Following a catastrophic encounter, May’s close friend, Elza is struck by a strange and deadly affliction known as the Lost. Vowing to cure Elza of her “Lost” condition, May travels the world in search of Elza who is on a rampage across Yanafiel and stealing Magus Quartez from all the major Yanafiel cities. The plot follows the conventional good vs. evil and light versus dark theme with strategic card battles, comedy and frequent moments of fan service.
Much of the gameplay from the Monster Monpiece Vita version remains intact in the PC version with respect to the card battle mechanics. The objective to attack and destroy your enemy’s headquarters while summoning your ally units on a 3x3 grid with the total area spanning a 7x3 grid field. Blue signifies your space and red spaces classify your opponent standing in enemy territory. The combination of managing your mana that is used to summon your units as well as fusing units together from the same species plays a vital role in turning the tide in the heat of battle. Mana is increased by a total of 3 every round and this lends itself to much trial and error to figure out your preferred strategy and tactics. Aura bonuses increase character stats and are triggered when allied units of the same aura color are summoned consecutively. Some units are gifted with special characters known as potentials and skills that are valuable such as healing allies, counterattacking foes, and damaging enemy units.
Skills for Monster Girls can be levelled up via the First Crush Rub system. Rub P is obtained from battles and used to activate this system with specific targets and techniques to “rub” the weak points of a Monster Girl to raise her strength and excitement. The Extreme Love mode involves the assistance of the rub fairy, Otton that raises the Monster Girl’s tension. It is possible for the Monster Girl to evolve after the third level as there are three levels of costumes: Heavy Armor, Light Armor and Swimwear. New card artwork can be obtained when leveling up the Monster Girl cards using the First Crush Rub system. Though this was present in the original Vita release, the Rub system feels unnecessary and overtly gimmicky. With respect to the PC version, there are already moments of fanservice in the Monster Girl card designs and focusing on the card battle system related to the use of skills, aura, potential and fusions would have been adequate.
Managing your deck is one of the challenges as running out of cards means that you forfeit the battle. In the event of a prolonged card battle, it is disappointing to suffer defeat due to the opponent going first or dragging out the fight with a higher number of cards in their immediate deck. On the world map, the game is very straightforward with linear pathways leading to your next destination from point A to point B. If you try to speed through certain battles and throw caution to the wind, the result could be a swift loss. Thankfully, the AI tends to be a good rival with only the occasional slips up in game that may raise a few eyebrows every now and then.
Monster Monpiece is an enjoyable title for players who can look past the First Crush Rub System and fanservice moments. The card battle system and the customization options are the high points of this game that will keep players occupied for quite some time. In the absence of multiplayer support, the PC version features upgraded visuals and the full card deck and artwork from the original Japanese release. With over 100 Monster Girl cards to collect and battles fused with strategic elements, Monster Monpiece is a game with much potential that fell short of its intended mark.
SCORE – 6.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Monster Monpiece on Steam provided by Idea Factory International.