Marvel Trading Card Game PSP
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Vicious Cycle Software
Release Date: Out Now
There seems to have been a fair few Marvel licensed games around of late but none of them have the depth that Marvel Trading Card Game has. Trading Card Games, when done well, can be immensely enjoyable. They aren't to everyone's taste though. Take the Pokémon games for instance. Virtually every Pokémon game that's released seems to sell fantastically well but for some reason the Pokémon TCG didn't sell that well at all here in the UK even though it was a very good game. Thankfully though, there are publishers and developers out there that are prepared to put out games that require more than twitch reflexes and simple button-bashing skills. If you're a fan of trading card games or games that require you to think out your strategies then you'll be pleasantly surprised with what Marvel Trading Card Game has to offer.
It's important to point out that there is quite a bit of depth on offer in Marvel TCG. This isn't a game that you can jump into and play without taking time to learn the basics. There are three introductory tutorials and a handful of advanced tutorials that really ought to be played through before attempting the main game. There are quite a few concepts to take onboard and there is plenty of room for creating complex strategies. To those looking for a casual pick-up-and-play experience the game may be an overwhelming one. If you don't mind putting in a little effort to learn the game's concepts though, you'll find a game that has a lot to offer whether playing the single-player or multiplayer modes. Marvel TCG offers two campaigns, Hero and Villain, for you to play through. There is also a Challenge mode, a Puzzle mode (initially locked) and a Deck Editor. Multiplayer options are quite impressive too with support for Ad-Hoc, LAN and Online play.
Each player has their own deck of cards and there are four basic card types in Marvel TCG. You have the Character cards which are the heroes or villains that fight for you. As you might expect there are many Marvel characters here and there are different versions of each characters. Each character has a team affiliation and gains benefits (such as team attacks) from working with other characters of the same affiliations. Equipment cards offer items that can be equipped to your characters and these items can grant new abilities as well as enhance existing abilities. Plot Twist cards offer situations that can affect the characters in play or the state of the game in general. Finally Location cards are places in the Marvel universe and, like Plot Twist cards, can affect characters or the state of the game. Like every TCG, each turn is comprised of several phases (called steps) which allow you to recruit characters, equip weapons, build your deck, attack and recover etc. The game plays out until one player loses their endurance points. These points are lost when an enemy's attack is greater than your character's defence. There is a lot to consider here though. You'll need resource points to recruit characters and equip items, characters team affiliations, the effects of the Plot Twist and Location cards that can be used to turn a harmful situation into a positive one and the ability to place your character cards into an attack support formation (there are two rows in which characters can be placed with the top row being an attack position whilst the lower row characters provide support for those in the top row). There is much more to the game but in truth there are so many levels of strategy in the game that it's impossible to do it justice in a simple review such as this. Suffice to say that fans of TCGs will be impressed.
Given the nature of the game, it's fair to assume that Marvel TCG isn't going to offer truly impressive graphics. That said however, the game certainly looks good enough and it's pleasing to see that the developers took time to create some comic book style cutscenes to tie the campaign missions together. The card battles are well laid out and make the most of the PSP's screen. It could be argued that some of the text and the icons used are a little small but it's difficult to see how the developers could have made better use of the limitations that the size of the PSP screen imposes on such a game as this, where a lot of information needs to be visible. If I have a complaint it would be that the load times can be a little on the long side but seeing as this is only when the game is setting up the battle, it's not much of a problem.
Deaf Gamers won't have any problems with Marvel TCG. The tutorials are all in text which is especially good news here as it would be annoying if they were speech tutorials given the level of complexity in the game. The dialogue in the game's main campaign is exclusively in text so again you'll have no problems. This dialogue does progress without the need for a button press but you do have the option to repeat the dialogue if you want to. The cutscenes that relay the story are shown in a comic book fashion. You'll see character portraits placed alongside the dialogue so you'll know who is saying what at all times.
There aren't many games on the PSP that can compare with Marvel Trading Card Game in terms of its game-play depth. As far as console trading card games go it's one of the better ones I've played and it's a game I'll happily continue to play long after this review is finished. As we said earlier though, those who class themselves as 'casual' gamers, and who can't be bothered to put more than five minutes effort into learning how to play a game, will certainly get little from this game. Essentially though that's their problem because every platform needs titles such as Marvel Trading Card Game which offers depth, replay value and plenty of options for those who like to play against the AI (and we should mention that the AI is capable of putting up a stiff challenge) or against human opposition. If you like trading card games at all, this is definitely a game to purchase.
As long as you are prepared to put the effort in to learn the game, you'll find a game that's as deep and as satisfying as any other on the PSP.