|System: PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 3, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Marvel has never been more popular. The characters created by this comic book empire have literally jumped off the pages of the comic books to conquer animated cartoons, video games, and movies. They have virtually become what Howard Stern once referred to himself as, "The King of All Media." Although I'm not certain that any superhero has his or her own talk show.
In case you're not quite paying attention, Marvel Trading Card Game involves decks of virtual playing cards. Action fans that may be blinded to the title of this game, that see only what they want to see, are forewarned that this game may be a bit on the dull side. It's part turn-based strategy and part luck. I would say the luck portion plays a much larger role. You can attempt to stack the deck in your favor, but it's randomly shuffled so that you're never sure when your favorite characters will make an appearance. But if you're into the Marvel universe in a big way, and you enjoy the collect-'em-all genre of card battling, then you'll absolutely freak at the amount of Marvel characters included in this game. There are characters I've never even heard of, including their friends and butlers.
Every card battling game has its own twist, and Marvel Trading Card Game is no exception. It's a little more complicated than other card games but there's a great tutorial which explains the rules in detail. The single-player mode is incredibly lengthy. If you want to unlock all the characters, you'll still be playing this game by the time of the first snowfall - which up here in Canada should be any day now.
The concept is simple, but the execution requires that you pay attention to the tutorial. There is no jumping into this game. I don't care how many trading card games you've played, you won't be able to guess these rules, which I have to admit are more complex for their own good. Marvel obviously wants to establish a unique gameplay system to set it apart from the glut of card games out there, but it's little more than a confusing conglomerate of rules and regulations. Once you get used to it, everything is fine, but the general randomness created by the deck shuffling only serves to show how little control you have over the strategy. The rule system just adds a false sense of depth. Overall, Marvel Trading Card Game is no better or worse than your average card trading game in terms of gameplay. It's just different characters with different rules. Regardless, I maintain that it's a brilliant change from Pokemon.
As I mentioned, the premise is simple. Try to best your opponent by draining them of their powers before they do unto you. To this end you will have the ability to attack your enemy as well as defend yourself from attack. Each card will feature a Marvel character and display his or her stats which include attack and defense ratings as well as their special attack. The more powerful characters are undoubtedly the more popular ones such as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and various villains such as the doctors Doom and Ock. Yes, you can play as the bad guy if you so desire. These stronger characters cost more to put into play. Points are required for everything that you do. With these points you can make your character stronger, add reinforcements, and purchase new cards and decks. The more you play, the more points you'll acquire, which will allow you access more and more characters.
Stacking the deck appears to require plenty of forethought but not only will it be randomly shuffled, you won't know what cards your opponent is likely to play. Unless you're playing against the computer, in which case it always seems to play the most powerful card at the most opportune time. If you attack it with a three points, you can virtually be assured that it will defend itself with four points. In case you didn't catch on, the bigger number is the winner in each situation. However, the system is more complicated than just simple arithmetic. If your attacker is overpowered, he or she can be stunned which will render your defenses vulnerable to your opponent's attack. Damage to your points is determined by a ratio that takes into account your opponent's defense and attacks points in addition to the cost of recruiting your character into battle. It's not only confusing, but it seems odd to include the recruitment cost of your character into the damage total.