Revisiting Monster Monpiece, The Vita's Card Game Champ
While looking at my Vita library, I came across a few titles that really resonated with me, and Monster Monpiece rose to the top as one that I dearly miss playing. I'm not so sure why I stopped, but it probably had something to do with the fact that everyone around who saw me played it had something to say about the game's "taboo" content. It's not difficult to see why some may be turned off by it, though -- despite the fact that it's a strategic card battler, it's also rife with many of the same tropes that will turn several members of the anime game audience off: like "rubbing" illustrations that happen to resemble young women and engaging in adult situations. But beneath the trappings of a fluffy "adult" game is a challenging and entertaining card game that deserves your time and attention. With the Vita lacking in similar titles, this is one game you'll want to at least try and see if you can write it off if you don't immediately love it.
Monster Monpiece is set in the magical world of Yafaniel, where there's a large dearth of male inhabitants. Human women befriend and train Monster Girls, which is where the card battles come in. Young May is a human who's trying to reach the rank her mother did as a powerful monster trainer, but on her journey to become one her friend Elza becomes one of the "Lost." With Elza having succumbed to what's essentially zombification, May has to find a way to cure her before she takes control of the world's Magus Quartzes. While it's not exactly too original of a narrative, it sets a nice tone for the rest of the game, which definitely won't be what many are expecting.
Card battles are the heart of the affair, with players collecting hundreds of cards depicting hyper-sexualized versions of mythical creatures like minotaurs. You set each card on a grid, on which chibi versions of the monster girls duke it out for supremacy. You move one space at a time, and cards will automatically attack others if they come into contact with one. You've got typical types such as Melee or Healer, and you create your own decks to face off against your enemies. The game progresses in a fairly linear fashion where you're exploring a specific map that you can receive money and other spoils from, and until the end of the chapter most of your time is spent in card battles or purchasing new cards and items. It's all fairly simple stuff, things that you would see in any role-playing game, except for one thing.
Monster Monpiece looks and feels great, however, and shouldn't be taken at face value because the cards are "too sexy" or there happens to be an overtly sexual minigame. It's an excellent addition to the niche library that has made its home on the Vita, and as a mobile title as well, it really should be given an iOS or Android port to maximize visibility...but we all know that's not going to happen, unfortunately.