Your average collectible card game has a difficult job standing out and attracting players in the post-Hearthstone world. But Monster Monpiece isn't your typical CCG.
Sure, there are cards and - yes - you collect them, but you don't just flop them on the table and compare stats to see who wins.
Instead, the cards animate when they're placed on a table and engage in a deeply satisfying, lane-based strategy battle that plays like Go mixed with Plants vs Zombies.
I haven't even gotten to the part where you furiously masturbate your Vita in an attempt to undress the characters in the cards to level them up.
Play your hand
When it comes to art and story, Monster Monpiece is about as by-the-numbers as you can get.
You're a young girl setting out on a journey in a cursed land. You have to collect monsters, evolve them, and send them off into battle against one another.
It's a story that's been told several times over, often by better writers. The fact that Monster Monpiece tells it through dry, interminably long cut-scenes with static artwork doesn't help draw you in, either.
As you wander about, you'll soon cross paths with familiar fantasy monsters. There are Kobolds, Death Scorpions, Tiamats (yes, plural!), and Skeletons. But there's a clever twist to Monster Monpiece's fantasy bestiary.
All of its creatures are sexy, scantily clad monster girls.
Each girl falls into one of four basic card types - melee attack, ranged attack, healer, and buffer. And you use them in a grid-based battle against your opponent.
Like other CCGs, you collect a fixed amount of mana each turn and use it place a single card into play.
You're limited to deploying your cards in a 3 x 3 grid on the left side of the board, (green, above) and each character will move forward and attack if the path in front of them is clear.
The goal of each battle is to make it to your opponent's edge of the board (red) and attack their stronghold.
This sounds simple enough, but Monster Monpiece is deeper than it looks.
Buffers add their intelligence stat to another card's attack, so they're a natural back-rank buddy for melee types. Except that healers can use their fixed MP to recover the HP of the card in front of them.
As you progress, you'll learn to fuse (combine) similar cards to increase their power on the board, and you'll soon plan your moves by three-card aura tricks in order to turn the tide of battle.
There's some really deep stuff here, and each battle feels like a challenging puzzle waiting to titillate your tactics-loving brain.Speaking of titillate...
And then, we get to First Crush <3 Rub.
As with other CCGs, you have to level up your cards as you go to be competitive against later decks.
Unlike many CCGs, Monster Monpiece requires you to engage in sexy touch-based sections where you turn your Vita vertically and begin scanning over the prone, nubile bodies of each monster girl.
You're looking for their target spots. When you tap, rub, or pinch the right zone, hearts pop up on the screen and the monster girl moans or gasps in pleasure - urging you on with cries of "sugoi sugoi!"
This is fan service of the most base and puerile order, but even here there's a challenge as each girl responds differently to different touches on her body.
A gentle poke on the shoulder might increase the gauge for your sexy Death Scorpion girl, but your Kobold might need a pinch on her thigh to level up. Tawdry, yes - but it's also a puzzle of sorts.
If you succeed in sussing out each girl's preferred erogenous zone, you'll trigger an Extreme Love Mode where you must rub the front and back screens of your Vita furiously in an up-and-down motion.
This, unfortunately, provides a nice boost to the card's stats. It's a great way to unlock the potential of your deck, but it's also a great way to be branded a pervert by anyone who sees you in action.Masterfully baited
Unfortunately, the First Crush <3 Rub really takes away from Monster Monpiece as a whole.
The tactical elements are robust and challenging enough to secure Monster Monpiece a cult-hit status on the Vita. But the inarguably trashy card enhancement mechanic holds it back from more mainstream appeal.
Still, for all of its fan service, flat art style, and one-dimensional characters, Monster Monpiece is still worth checking out if you're craving a deep, nontraditional card battler.
Just, y'know... be careful about playing it in public.