The mythic realm of Yafanir plays host to humans, demi-gods and all manner of monster girls. Humans and moe monster ladies live together, side-by-side, in a tacit peace. The focus of Monster Monpiece are the burgeoning adventures of May who is training to become a Monster Master at Yungavu Academy. Think of Ash Ketchum but, instead, a near insufferably adorable anime lady and she summons the aforementioned monster girls with cards instead of Pokéballs. Dark forces are at work, however, and not long after May's training has begun her dearest friend is held in the thrall of a maleficent deity bent on the destruction of Yafanir. May sets out on a world-spanning journey to not only collect every monster girl (and their accompanying cards) imaginable but find a way to get her friend back in the process. It is, to say the least, as boilerplate as anime-tinged stories get but that card collecting bit? Compile Heart might be on to something there.
A full deck of 40 eager-to-battle monster girls at one's disposal but there's something missing. A means to ascend to the next level! That's what we're missing. Surely each component of one's deck can be leveled up, right? All that globe-trotting and battling other would-be Monster Masters, feral ladies, and other threats has netted May a lot of gold along with a full deck of cards to choose from. What's this? Rub Points? Well, what are those for? May has to take a very hands-on approach with her growing army you see. PC users finally get to dive into the newly ported Monster Monpiece and ensure that our plucky heroine won't have the decks stacked against her.
Monster Monpiece, a Compile Heart title originally released back in 2013 on the PlayStation Vita, is best known for its method of sealing cards. Players were required to flip their Vita sideways, ready their fingers atop the front touchscreen and back touch panel and commenced to poking, prodding or rubbing the pictured avatar of the card in question. This method, referred to as "The First Crush ❤ Rub" mode, meant that players would need to do their fair share of heavy petting to level up their assembled decks. It provided the ecchi antics of the Criminal Girls series long before that even existed. It was, as most of these titles tend to be when dealing with Western rating boards, censored and then released onto possibly the only platform possessed of the target user base within the West, PlayStation Vita.
So, why refer to the original version of the game considering this is a PC port released in 2017? Any titillation that the game once possessed via the means of interfacing with upgrade mechanics has been replaced, instead, with mouse and keyboard support along with gamepad compatibility. Whether it involves clicking and waving the mouse point around wildly or making use of the dual analog sticks, there are no good times had by anyone. So, for the purveyors of perverted gameplay, much of the appeal feels sapped entirely. Clicking on "sensitive areas" and vaulting into "EXTREME RUB MODE!" complete with a phallic seal demanding your best efforts loses its luster quickly. It is, however, much like any game that has been demonized in the past for its "Adult Content" in that it is neither subversive or filthy enough to merit real outrage. The anime ladies on the cards get unclothed in four stages and, as opposed to the Vita version only having three stages, the Steam port allows slipping down to the barest of skivvies.
So, 2D waifu rubdowns aren't as exciting as they used to be. Is the thrill gone you say? Don't worry as there happens to be an accessible and well-designed card battler somewhere between expenditures of Rub Points and all those static cutscenes of mostly the same four characters talking a lot. If only there were a little less talking perhaps the card battler aspect wouldn't feel like a secondary feature. That said the core CCG elements in place with Monster Monpiece are more than acceptable. The hardcore set will not find the counters and the craziness of Magic: The Gathering present here but there's certainly room in the market for "waifu card battlers" such as this one.
The lay of the land is relatively straightforward. A 7x3 grid greets players with one base on each end of the play area. Players will play cards in horizontal rows and, as each turn passes, these newly placed avatars will move forward one space, attack, cast a spell, etc. One might start a round by tossing down a warrior type to begin their offensive onslaught. The AI opponent might place down a ranged attacker in a reasonably effective retort. This is where the simple but well-executed mechanics shine through. Healers or buff-casting cards can be played directly behind the frontline warriors until eventually a single row might be a formidable conga line of doom and destruction. Once those charming polygonal ladies reach the other side without dying, they take shots at the opposition's castle.
Prior battles can be revisited via the Training option thus offering players a means to grind for gold and the all-important RP (Rub Points) which are used for the game's signature card upgrade mechanic. The path that leads to victory is, well, fairly linear and full of lots of visual novel style cutscenes that drag substantially in the later parts of the game. It does, however, do a good job of introducing new layers of mechanics into the combat as the story barrels on.
The native 960 x 544 graphics of the Vita version have been scaled to standard PC resolutions decently. There are still some artifacts in the HUD around the edges but nothing major. The menus themselves look great with crisp text, but they feel a bit disjointed. There are also some spelling errors here and there but mostly in unimportant elements, nothing in regards to the story or dialog text. The art, the real star of the show, looks fantastic brought to 1080P even if it does make it quite apparent that all the monster girls have essentially four designs with different clothing layers tacked on. The Steam (PC) version is completely uncensored, so the infamous "fourth" evolution of each card is now available in the West for the first since the game's release. It does, however, have zero multiplayer functionality attached which is a letdown. There are microtransactions tied to Steam wallet but, honestly, none of them are required to progress in the game. Grinding via Training mode and only progressing through the story should net all the cards one would need.
Monster Monpiece was always a bit of an odd duck in the landscape of the Vita (even if it did fit in with numerous other games asking its players to "interface" directly with anime ladies). It was a card battler meets visual novel though it doesn't stand out in either genre really. It is a pleasant distraction at best, but ultimately lacks the depth of execution in any one of those areas to get a hearty recommendation.
Monster Monpiece was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation Vita.
Monster Monpiece is certainly not the average digital card game. Upgrading cards requires players to rub down their would-be monster girl soldiers and it features a heavy dose of visual novel style storytelling. It is, however, an okay story at best and a decent card battler. It doesn't stand out much from the field other than its "Crush Rub" upgrade system but, hey, at least it's uncensored.(Review Policy)
- Nice Character Art
- Groovy Soundtrack
- Forgettable Story And Characters
- No Multiplayer
- Crush Rub System Not Compelling