Step aside Magic the Gathering, PSN has a new go to card game.
I am sure you have seen me gush about this game for the past two weeks, whether it be on Twitter or the Podcast. There hasn’t been a game on PSN since the release of PixelJunk Shooter 2 that has taken all my free time away. Seriously I have over 38 hours put into this game and that is only in single player. It saddens me that Hudson Entertainment folded before the release of this title, but if this is their last game to ever be published on PSN it is a good one to go out on. Now before this review becomes emo and starts blasting Linkin Park let me tell you about the best card game on PSN, Elemental Monsters Online Card Game.
At its most basic layer, EleMon is much like other trading card games. You have mana, monsters have attack points, there are elements, but it also has some differences. For instance you can only have at most six monsters in your deck and at least four. The number of cards is dependent on the formation that you choose. These formations are unlocked throughout your single player campaign and help boost certain stats which depend on the monsters element and the jewel of your deck. What is a jewel you ask? Well if you ever played Yu-Gi-Oh, they are much like the Field Spell cards. Here is an example to help better explain. Say I make a deck with the wing formation and give it the water jewel. All mosters which are of the water element in that deck will be given a +3 boost to their agility. Jewels are also unlocked during the single player mode, so if you want to make the best decks you will need to get them all. Also much like Pokemon, elements have strengths and weakness (fire beats grass, water beats fire, grass beats water…) so you will need to think about which monsters you will be using. Keep in mind that Dark element monsters are always poisoned.
The during your single player journey, besides unlocking deck formations and jewels, you will be gaining new cards. After a battle you will get to choose a booster pack where you receive one of the cards from it at random. Cards ranging in rarity from Common all the way to Legendary and Super Rare. I believe that Super Rare cards are only given during multiplayer tournaments, but we will get to that in a bit. The game even has a opening of the pack animation which is a nice touch. While the deck you are given at the beginning might be crap this game actually lets you build your own decks, looking at you Magic the Gathering. Which you will need to do for boss battles in where you must win a best of three style event. To stop players from over loading decks with all the best cards, you are only allowed to spend twenty mana per deck. Each monster has a mana value assigned to it so they can range anywhere from one to over seven mana. The single player game offers only three of the booster packs to choose from, you get access to the third Legendary Dragons pack after completing the “100 man battle”, so you will be getting a lot of duplicates. But fear not you can fuse these duplicates into holofoil cards with better health, the game adds some transparent diamonds on the front to simulate the effect.
I guess you are wondering how the hell you play this game. Well basically turns are divided into three stages, Summon Stage, Tactical Stage, and Battle Stage. The first stage is self-explanatory, it is the stage where you choose which monster to send into battle. After which you enter the Tactical Stage where you choose which attack you are going to use. At this point you can also choose a SP Skill if you have a standby monster that has one. These will also cost certain amounts of mana, so you have to plan accordingly. After picking attacks and SP Skills you enter Battle Stage. The monster with the highest agility attacks first, unless you have picked a preemptive attack. Some monsters also have Abilities which can do a range of things, like blocking preemptive strikes to even blocking instant death. Attacks deal damage to the monsters directly and this whole loops continues until one player loses all their monsters. Check out the video I include below, I try my best to explain this process better.
So after you complete single player you will probably want to check the multiplayer out. (Pro-tip: If you want good cards you will check multiplayer out earlier as ranked matches give access to more booster packs.) This is where the game tries to get some more money out of you, the $0.99 was too good to be true. Well there are ways around their little scheme. There are three different ways to play online, two of which are free. Friend matches will never cost you a cent, you can play as much as you want against your friends. There are also weekly tournaments. In the tournament there are usually certain restrictions on what cards can be used, so it is usually an even playing field. Prizes in the tournament range from Super Rare cards to tickets. Ah yes tickets… this is the currency used for ranked matches. Each time you want to play a ranked match you will need to cough up a ticket. While you can win them from tournaments you will run out of them quickly if you are playing a lot. So here is the catch to that $0.99 price, tickets can be bought from the in game store. The prices range from around $1 for 4 all the way up to $20 for 100. While this isn’t necessary, if you are going for that platinum trophy you might want to consider this. Also you can purchase booster packs from the in-game store. For $5 you can get 24 random cards from a booster pack of your choosing. I almost bought one but something stopped me before I did. So purchasing these items will only decrease the amount of time it takes to get that platinum, but it is my goal to get it without paying more than the original dollar.
If you like card games at all, this is a must have for PSN. I am totally serious when I say this might be in the running for game of the year. I can’t think of another PSN game, besides PixelJunk Shooter 2, that has given me more bang of my buck. And in this game’s case you are literally spending a buck. What is there to lose really… other than 40+ hours of your life.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
Chris K's Score:
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Release Date:December 2010, September 2011
Price:$0.99, £0.95/€1.19, ¥100
Players:1 (Local), 1-2 (Online)