It's known that Compile Hearts games are usually quite female focused and Monster Monpiece is no exception to this. However, it does go beyond that and offers some interesting new gameplay mechanics that help the game go beyond just pure fan service. Some parts of this are very deep, but overall the game does feel a bit lacking in a few departments.
If you're looking for a deep and overwhelming story Monster Monpiece is unlikely to leave you satisfied. That's not because the game is shallow, but it's a very cliche setting that sees the main character, May, being thrust into saving the world. And even after that, plot development from that standpoint is quite limited. Essentially, their "˜God' created humanity, and then created monsters to destroy humanity. However, when the monsters were doing too well, they were turned into monster girls to limit their powers "“ they then started working together with humans. Thus a pokemon-esque collaboration is formed with the monster girls being summoned from within cards to battle for their masters.
May is one of these young apprentices, and along with her friend Elza and Karen they set off to better their abilities. Karen isn't a battler, but more serves as their adviser, and along with their new found monster girl partners Fia and Grace, the two aim to improve themselves. Unfortunately not long into the story, Elza is taken control of by a "˜Masked Diva' and then the story revolves around trying to rescue her and prevent her from seizing control of each of the nations. It's all a little bit hit and miss, and be prepared for reading unless you can understand Japanese as all the voice acting is unavailable in anything but. However, it is worth mentioning that the character development is quite decent and May's confidence issues are quite well portrayed throughout.
The game is split into nations/regions and players move around the map from point to point. At each spot various things can occur and these will either reward the player with items, cards, money or rub points (more on the latter later). When battles occur, they take place on a 3x7 grid with an HQ at each side. Players must summon units from cards and attempt to damage the opponent's HQ while at the same time defending their own. The mechanics on this are initially quite straightforward with a standard mana rule dictating the strength of a card you can summon through its cost. There are 8 different classes across four job roles and these are melee, ranged, healer and buffer. The first two are self explanatory with simple HP and Attack values, with ranged having the addition of a tile distance as attack range. Healer has an MP stat which dictates how many points of healing they can do, and buffer has an Int stat determining how much attack at 1:1 ratio they give to the unit in front of them. Cards can only be placed in the 3x3 area closest to the player's HQ, however with an addition of Fusion cards, the same class can be combined on any square on the grid adding their stats to one another.
These are the basis elements of the game and advancing across the grid to the enemy HQ starts off relatively straight forward. This is then expanded by the addition of Auras. Each card is of a particular colour and by summoning 2 cards sequentially of the same colour, players will gain 1 more mana the next turn. If they manage to summon 3 of the same colour they will gain 3 mana and +1 attack and +1 hp for every unit currently in play. On top of this, each card can have potential abilities, such as mana regen, instant movement, counter attack, as well as negatives like being unable to move or losing HP per turn. There are also more complex skills which require certain triggers, such as a unit being killed, summoned, etc. and these effects are extremely potent if used correctly.
The amount of customisation in that respect is impressive, with around 95 unique cards, each having +1 and +2 versions with different stats. The majority also have three evolutions as well, and that's where some of the weirdness starts to come into play. Evolving cards uses the aforementioned rub points and it's at this point where a card can be taken into a mode called First Crush. During this, players have to touch various points on a card to raise a meter and if the meter fills up within 60 seconds the card "˜upgrades'. Some of the stat changes can be questionably better as often you'll lose stats for skills or potentials which can be sometimes a little less favourable. However, it comes down to how you want to create your deck. Unfortunately there's no way to know what these stat changes will be until you've seen it occur once.
To elaborate on this mini game, players have to please the monster girls by rubbing, poking, pinching etc. Sufficed to say, the sure fire method for doing this seems to be to go for the chest and then the crotch. They lose some of their clothes, which is when the stat changes occur and this can be done twice on each card revealing more skin on the final version. It's probably worth noting that there was some censorship in the European version of the game and this was handled by omitting several final stages of cards and instead keeping the appearance from the second or first stages.
There's also a strange mode called Extreme Rub mode, which triggers based on comboing rub points on the card. There are also items that can be tacked on to a deck and can add minor benefits such as healing, buffing and damaging units, though only one of each item can be taken and only three spots are available in a deck.
Graphically the game isn't all that spectacular, with the majority of 3D elements being sprite based. The regions are also offered up as 2D birds eye views. The battle maps themselves are unique to the environment they are in, but are nothing to write home about. The same can be said about the cards too. Although they all the unique designs, the units summoned depict their class archetype and while there is a fair bit of variation, it's not reflective of the art style at all. It's clear it was a conscious decision to make units on the battlefield easily distinguishable as melee, healer, buffer or ranged, but it does make it feel a bit more bland.
Monster Monpiece is a very mixed bag and some may find the concept extremely embarrassing before looking any further. If they do, they will overlook a card game that has a lot of depth and complexity. It's just a shame that the rest of the game doesn't support this, with the story being poor and the experience being quite repetitive. If the online mode manages to pick-up, this will be rectified, but without it, the experience ends up being a little bland.
|Extremely deep card system.|
|Plenty of cards to collect.|
|Interesting art style.|
|Embarrassing rubbing potentially.|
|Story drags on a bit in terms of the number of battles against AI.|
|Not knowing what the stat changes of a card are going to be on upgrade.|