Yesterday I picked up Elemental Monster: Online Card Game from the PSN Store. It was only 99 cents and I used to enjoy CCGs back when I was a kid like Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, Illuminati and Mythos. I wasn’t too impressed with either of the Magic: the Gathering: Duel of the Planeswalkers games as their interface setups were clunky. So even though I should be spending my time playing and reviewing Atelier Totori and Persona 2: Innocent Sin, I decided to take a break for a few hours and see if Hudson Soft’s attempt at an online CCG was what I’ve finally been looking for, or if the game was price at only 99 for a good reason…
1. It’s only 99 cents. How awesome is that? Take heed Magic: The Gathering games. Of course, you have to pay extra to pay online ala old school arcade games of yore. So if you’re looking for a single player game, it’s hard to say no to Elemental Monster at this price point. The good news is that the pay to play rooms are optional and there a lot of free multiplayer online choices. The only difference is that doing a “ticket” based battle gets you cards at the end of it, whether you win or lose while free battles are just for fun.
2. There’s a platinum trophy to the game. Wow. I did not see that coming. With the price point of 99 cents and the knowledge that there is a Platinum to be had, I can see a lot of trophy whores picking this up. Just remember you need to play in single player AND muiltiplayer to get the trophy so the dollar amount spent on this game will add up if you’re going for that and extra cards. From what I could see there only three trophies require online play, which is nice.
3. There is a surprisingly large amount of story to this game in single player mode. I was happy to see this as it gave substance to just picking and flipping cards.
4. The game is exceptionally simple to understand. Each player gets a maximum of six cards and the goal is to take out your opponent’s team. Think of it like a full Pokemon battle as every monster has their own attacks, elemental affinities, hit points and so on. It’s very streamlines and uncomplicated in terms of attacks. The real key to success is in how you build your deck and what monsters you use.
5. You collect mana on each turn, with the amount being based on how many of your creatures didn’t take an action in the previous round. Mana is used to power SP Skills. SP Skills get first strike and can be used by the standby creatures not actually in combat. You can also get a point of mana when an enemy dies. You start with twenty mana, but the pool goes down based on what cards you have in your deck. You see each card takes a certain amount from your starting pool. So if a starting pool is low, you know that your opponent either has very powerful cards or a full six creatures. If the pool is high it means the reverse OR that they make heavy use of SP Skills. There’s a nice degree of strategy here.
6. The art on each card is actually very nice. There isn’t any real animation to the game, but what’s here is quite pretty. I really prefer the art here than what I’ve seen in the Magic: The Gathering games. The interface is smoother and easier to get through as well.
7. One of the neat things is that even though you can have up to six creatures, the trick here is that three monsters are hidden on the underside of your first three cards. Then when a creature dies, it gets flipped over and the new hidden monster is revealed. This creates a nice bit of strategy I feel.
8. Getting new cards takes FOREVER. Sure you could buy a pack for $4.99, but that defeats the point of having a very nice 99 cent game, you know? Otherwise you get new cards by participating in online battles or by completing certain battles in the game. I had to go through four battles before I earned a chance a new cards. They gave me five new ones though, and I’d earn cards for each battle thereafter, so you’ll definitely get a nice collection going right away.
9. There are several modes of play in single player. First is a single round match where the goal is just to take your opponent down. The second is a two out of three falls scenario. Here each player has two decks and when one is completely wiped out, they get to use the second. The object is to take out both decks. Finally there is ,”100 Man Battle.” Here you try to win 100 battles in a row with your deck.
10. Overall, I’m VERY happy with this game. It’s easy to learn, it’s a lot of fun and there are a ton of cards to collect. If you just stick to single player, there are dozens of battles you can engage in. You don’t even have to buy the optional $4.99 decks of cards from the PSN store, as you’ll eventually get cards with each battle you play in single or multiplayer mode. You also get ten free tickets for multiplayer, so you can always try that out and see if it’s worth investing in down the road. With the game only costing 99 cents, you’re getting a great deal here along with the chance to earn a platinum trophy. Hell, considering you can get all the cards in the game by just repeatedly going through single player mode, you don’t need to worry about the ticket based options. You can just spend a dollar and have a lot of fun.
Basically, Elemental Monster: Online Card Game is something everyone with a PS3 should pick up. It’s a lot of fun, there’s a nice amount of strategy, it has full trophy support including a Platinum, and it’s only 99 cents. How can you say no?