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Megaman

Pookís Review: Marvel Trading Card Game

By Pook
March 27, 2007

 

            Greetings one and all.  Although this review may seem a little bit late, I was determined to get this to the viewing public once I had gotten my hands on the very first VS related video game.  With that being said, hereís my one sentence review (borrowing some slang from Battlestar Galactica along the way).

 

This game is frakkiní hard. 

 

            Yes, you read that right.  The Marvel Trading Card Game for the Sony PSP (as well as the Nintendo DS and PC) is very, very difficult.  Now this isnít to say that Iím getting nowhere in the game, Iím just saying that this game is providing me with an excellent challenge, and because of this, Iím becoming a better player. 
 

            Letís begin with the single-player campaign.  After the initial tutorial with Professor Xavier, you have the option of choosing your career path Ė hero or villain.  Itís a little cut and dry, and it would have been great to have some more depth to this, much like how your affiliation is determined in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game Ė you actions affect your path.  But alas, all we get in this game is a simple two-choice response.  At this point in the game, Iím about 5 chapters into the heroesí path, and havenít even begun with the villains.  From here, our game begins. 
 

            The hero starter deck is not nearly as self-contained as it could have been.  Your deck is not based on any one of the real-life starter decks (i.e. X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four) but sort of a mish-mash of all three.  It is primarily a Spider-Friends deck, but there are a few X-Men and Fantastic Four thrown into tMarvel Trading Card Gamehe mix, without any team up cards.  This means right out of the gate, you are at a disadvantage.  However, you wonít be fighting with this deck for too long.  With the progression of each new chapter, a new pack is unlocked in the Card Store.  Packs are 100 points, and after a few victories against street thugs, youíll have enough points to buy a few packs at least.  The biggest downside of the packs is that they are not based on any of the real life packs (meaning you could get cards from just about any set early on), and you are not guaranteed a rare card in each pack.  From the first set alone, I had character cards from nearly every major team, and not enough of one team to build a focused deck.  For the most part, I would just swap in cards here and there with ones in my starter. 
 

            Since I was unable to build a real deck at this point, I was getting beaten fairly often.  The majority of my victories were due to luck Ė perfect draws or amazing come from behind victories.  While this is an important factor in the real life game, at least you have the structure of your deck to fall back on.  The problem is that the game was handicapping me too early.  Thank goodness this did not last. 
 

            Each of the campaign chapters have missions that go along with the story Ė the chapters average somewhere between 6 to 8 missions, with 7 missions for each faction (quite a hefty single player mode, considering some missions contain up to 4 battles!).  The missions tend to start with you facing off against nameless thugs, leading up to more familiar rivals.  Doc Ock destroyed me about a half-dozen times before I was able to defeat him.  The nice thing is that these deeds do no go unrewarded.  Aside from receiving points to pMarvel Trading Card Gameurchase cards, occasionally you will win a card as well.  Itís based on who you are battling, so a win against Doc Ock will give you a Doc Ock card.  Itís very satisfying to get a free card this way.  You will also unlock multiplayer avatars by winning, but with over 100 to unlock, it can get old fast.  Upon completion of a chapter, you can unlock multiplayer playmates (which are so much cooler than avatars), as well as puzzles.  These puzzles are themed (i.e. Boost, Evasion, etc.) and you unlock a complete set of puzzles at once.  These puzzles are a fantastic way to earn big points, flex your mind, and frustrate the crap out of you.  I know that Konami said that they were very proud of the puzzles they included in this game, but I can not tell you how hard some of the higher level ones can be.  I will stare at the PSP for what feels like forever trying to figure some of these out, and for the life of me, I will be flat out stumped.  Luckily for me, Iím not the only one, and people on different message boards seem to be helping everyone out.  But wow, these are doozies!
 

            As you can tell, the single-player mode is incredibly deep, which is fantastic.  I just wish that it were easier to get the cards Iím looking for.  Like I said before, the packs arenít based on real life counterparts, but on top of that, certain cards are unlocked during the hero path, which the other half are in the villains set, meaning that Iíve not even collected 50% of every possible card.  Oh well, replay value is a strong aspect of a video game. 
 

            Then we come to multiplayer.  I have been staying away from multiplayer for the most part due to the fact that you have to pay for your packs (please see my previous article for my pre-launch thoughts on that.)  Now I did buckle and buy a few packs, mostly just as trade fodder so that I could build a solid deck.  The multiplayer game is even bigger than the single player game, mostly due to the fact that the X-Men expansion set is part of it (whereas Avengers is the latest set in one-player mode), and there are many sorts of gameplay, including constructed and sealed tournaments.  I havenít participated in any tournaments yet, but thatís mostly due to my lack of competitive deck.  Now the ranked games are not without their problems Ė mostly due to connection errors.  I have been in a game where my prompt says ďWaiting for other playerĒ, and my opponent has the game message.  There is no way to quit out without getting a forced loss, but Konami has been addressing this situation, trying to fix it so that if that is the problem, the result is a tie.  Frankly, that stinks. 
 

The other major issue (aside from card glitchesÖ::cough cough::Dr.Marvel Trading Card Game Doom::cough cough::) is the play timer.  Yu-Gi-Oh online had a play timer, so that people could not exploit others and just sit forever doing nothing, forcing people to get frustrated and quit, as well as keeping the game flowing, but the timer is, for lack of a better word, reasonable.  I was playing a multiplayer game and I was using a tutor card, searching my deck for another card, and all of a sudden, I got a game loss.  Turns out I only had 45 seconds to go through my entire deck to find the card I wanted.  Now this isnít a big deal if you know exactly what card you want, but sometimes, when you are thumbing through your deck, youíll see that there is actually a better card to use, one you hadnít thought of before, and decide to pick that instead.  Unfortunately, the timer completely hinders this, and I suffered for that.  The lesson learned is know what you want ahead of time.  Oh well. 
 

Long story short, this game is very deep.  Yes, it has itís flaws, but I am learning so much from it.  The single player AI will occasionally make a boneheaded move, but Iím getting to see a lot of different deck types in action (Crime Lords and Masters of Evil?  Who plays those?).  Iíve got a Fantastic Four deck thatís pretty solid, and Iím still building a Spider-Friends/Marvel Knights deck that isnít perfect, but very playable.  Mostly, what this game is for me is the teacher I never had.  Itís funny, because this is the same way that I got better at playing Yu-Gi-Oh Ė I used the GBA games as my teacher, since it knew all of the rules and could offer me consistent challenges.  The tutorials make the game accessible for new players, but the matches and puzzles will make even a seasoned veteran sweat.  Overall, itís a solid game that will keep you busy for a long, long time.  On top of that, the game comes with an extended art Armageddon card, and that in itself is worth having.  Iíll give this game a 7.8 out of 10.  Until next time. 

 


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