| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Strategy; loc=NA] |
|I suppose everyone probable describes this port of the Dreamcast Japanese-only puzzle-strategy game as what would happen if Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering had a love-child, but that description is so apt that it's hard to avoid using it. You roll dice, toddle around the board, and play a monster card in the square you land in. Yay!|
From there it gets complicated, of course, with Monopoly-style territory levelling, complex creature card interactions, item cards, spell cards, territory effects, elemental effects, revenue from elemental shares, and so on and so forth. Let's just say it's engrossing and compelling (maybe this time I'll win that cool card!) and leaves quite a bit of room for strategy. And luck.
Or not. See, the computer cheats, shamelessly--you almost always land on his high-rent squares, he almost never lands on yours, he uses spells to zap the creature of yours whose territory he's about to land on... BEFORE he rolls the dice. So yeah, it cheats. So you've got to make up for that with skill and ruthlessness and planning, and of course a darn good deck. It's also funny to watch the computer cheat against itself in three or four-team games.
And multiplayer really is quite a bit of fun. You can play with up to four teams, co-op or whatever. As one of my friends remarked (we spent the better part of the Christmas holidays playing this thing with three players vs the AI), it's too bad that you can't throw in more than four teams, since we'd have liked to do three-on-three, but oh well, you can always make up your own rules or something ("we won't use spell cards this game," etc) if you need to make things tougher in a 3-on-1 match.
Matches can take quite some time and get really intense, with everyone trying to screw over everyone else, and trying to remember what items or spells or creatures the opponent might have up their sleeve. Each player saves to a separate file, I think, so you could take your deck on the road--a nice touch. The game really does scream for tournament play, and apparently that kind of madness goes on in Japan.
The translation of the rules is really, really poor, and can be downright frustrating. For instance, the card "Lilith" says something like "attack strength equals number of deals x10." Wha? So we figured that this must mean the creature's attack power was a multiple of the number of turns that have gone by, or something. Well, turn out that her attack power is actually equal to the number of cards in the player's HAND times ten. Clear as mud, wasn't it? What's funny is that other cards with similar "power = cards times x" abilities phrase it in a completely different way. So anyway, be prepared for some highly obscure directions, but stick with it and you'll find a whole heck of a lot of fun strategy here.
Man, two weeks of multiplayer kind of wore me out--this game really starts to get in your head, and it doesn't help that my brother is now madly addicted (nor that he's constantly taking time out to rearrange his deck...). I think I may need to take some time off from that and just do single-player, where I'm the only one liable to burst a vessel during the game. It's also nice and convenient as you can save the game at any time to pick up later, and the single-player story quest seems to have a nice (if somewhat tough) difficulty curve so far.