Game: Shadowverse: Champions Battle
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Board Game, Strategy
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: Cygames | Marvelous (XSEED)
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99 | USA $49.99
Release Date: August 10th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks Decibel PR
It’s in the Cards
Shadowverse: Champions Battle is a card-based RPG based on anime, based on the popular mobile card game. If you’re confused, don’t worry. I never heard of this series either. The last card game anime thing I remember had something to do with the heart of the cards and all that jazz. But I can’t quite remember what that game was called.
When I initially saw Shadowverse, I was initially thinking this would be a card game quite similar to the mini-game I played in the Trails of Cold Steel game or some other JRPG. Only with a lot more depth. To my surprise, this was a delightful surprise of a video game. If you love card-based games, and even if you don’t, maybe you would like to try them. This is a title well worth keeping on your game radar.
Back to School
You play as a male or female student who has moved to a new city to study at a new school. Turns out the region is completely ga-ga for this card game called Shadowverse. A game people play head to head off their phones with random strangers in the park, the streets or in the school halls. As we all know the best solutions in life are solved with card battles and not by other means.
Even though this card game is absurdly popular your school has a Shadowverse club which is seriously lacking in members. So it’s up to you and your new friends (who feature in the anime of the series) to find new club members to prevent it from shutting down as well as win the grandmaster tournament and just become the super best at this card game. Don’t worry, you need no familiarity with the anime to enjoy this story.
The story is lovely, positive and charming. Your fellow students are over the top positive and I have to say it did put a smile on my face when they all fist-bumped the air before starting a new objective. Sure it’s cheesy and overly simple but this positive energy really sucked me into this card-playing world.
I spent ages just running around talking to several NPCs whose conversations are usually appropriately short and bite-sized. It’s a simple story with predictable plot points but serves as a nice compliment to the main event which is the card battling.
The goal of a card battle is to reduce your opponents’ defence points to zero. You start every turn with a single play point and this count grows by one up to ten with each turn. With these points, you can play monster cards or use magic cards. When a monster card is played it has an individual attack and defence points.
However, you can’t attack on the first turn unless you use a special evolve ability for some cards. This evolve ability is activated after a few turns and can only be used a set number of times. Activating it on a specific card at the right time can make all the difference.
With your monster cards you can attack opponent cards but you need to be cautious as every attack will cause your opponent to counterattack on you. When you get an opening you are able to attack your opponents’ defence points directly. This is a very basic description of the game but there is so much more depth to it than first appears. Which makes every card game feel delightfully unique.
Variety of Different Decks
There are a variety of different decks that can be built to match your playing style. There are decks that focus more on magic cards, decks that focus on using your own defence points to get the edge and there’s a deck focused on dragon cards which act as the games default but seemed to end up being my favourite. I still had a lot of fun experimenting with all the other decks. Winning card games nets you money and new cards and if you lose, don’t worry, you can choose to restart the game or try again later. Either way, you won’t lose any of your cards.
You gain new deck builds by defeating opponents. From there you can form the deck fully by buying new cards from random shop kiosks, opening card bundles or defeating more opponents. A handy pin feature lets you keep track of the cards you are missing. Then when you have enough you can complete the deck and use it. If you want to you can just leave it there but if you want to get deeper into it you can start messing around with the individual cards forming the ultimate deck. This design makes the game accessible to casual players and advanced players alike.
Breaking You In Gently
Shadowverse: Champions Battle is very accessible to gamers totally new to card games. The game does a fantastic job breaking you in step by step on how to play the game as well as building and managing decks. It doesn’t overload you with too much at once and allows plenty of wiggle room for you to experiment yourself. Should you already be a card master you can fast forward through these segments as well as any story segments you feel is going on a bit too long.
The controls are simple and easy to use. In card battles, you can actually play with touch controls in handheld mode if you choose. Unfortunately, touch controls are not used for anything else. This feels like something carried over from the mobile game I never played and it’s most welcome in the design. The overall feel of the game feels suitable for all ages from the younglings to the old solitaire fans.
Looks Pretty Anime
The graphics are as colourful and cheery as the story itself. Simple anime character models, many of which have fascinating hair cuts. Most NPCs have a smile on their face and there are your usual locales to explore like the school grounds and the city itself. It was interesting seeing other NPCs playing random card battles in the background as you search for your next objective or opponent.
The game is fully voice-acted in English and the cast does a stellar job in delivering their performances. The card designs are hand drawn with incredible artistic detail. You get some nice effects pop up as you make a move. The best bit by far is when you strike the winning blow your character does a strong pose proclaiming the battle is over. I had to try not to mimic the hand gesture myself and not drop the Switch.
There is plenty of content to enjoy in single player but if you want to brave the multiplayer you can go online or play a friend over local battles. The online has its own ranking system as well as its own microtransaction system. To my surprise, this is a game that does not get played to use real money to buy card packs. I didn’t spend much time online as I generally not very good against real people at these sorts of games.
So I was happy to sink most of my playtime in the single-player which offers plenty of content alone to keep you busy. As well as following the main story you can partake in various side quests to gain special cards. I honestly had the most fun just running up to random strangers and challenging them to card battles. Another welcome feature is that the objectives are highlighted easily and you can even fast travel using a handy mini-map.
Conclusion – Game of Champions
Shadowverse: Champions Battle is a highly enjoyable card-based RPG. You don’t need to be familiar with the anime to get into this. This is a great title to sink absurd hours into whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours to spare. Accessible for newbies while offering plenty of incentive to card veterans. The last card-based RPG I sunk this much time into was the Pokemon Card Game on Game Boy. But I think that game now has a new contender in my gaming world. If you draw this card from the deck of the eShop be sure to give it a try.
If you want to try before you buy. Be sure to check out the free demo on the eShop
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up