January 11, 2008
Gaming Steve Review: MapleStory iTrading Card Game
MapleStory iTrading Card Game
MapleStory is a free-to-play MMORPG and is cute — super cute in fact. You couldn’t ask for a more family-friendly (E10+ ESRB Rated) MMORPG, all of the monsters look like stuffed animals, the characters look like children dressed up for make-believe, and the reading level is pretty easy. The game mostly "free", however it does make money by selling the best armor, weapons, quests, and items for "real money" via micropayments at the Cash Store. That’s pretty much it except for some special events or quests you can discover by talking to the NPCs.
Of course this super-cute game was not satisfied with simple video game world domination, so it teamed up with Wizards of the Coast to try its hand at the Collectible Trading Card Game (TCG) market. Taking full advantage of the MMORPG, the MapleStory card game ties directly into the online game by providing your online characters items from the cards themselves. Hence, they also renamed the genre as an Interactive Trading Card Game (iTCG ... everything must have that little “i” letter these days). Although relatively simple, I found the game refreshing and fun.
The MapleStory iTCG is also cute — dare I say “super cuter?” The game is as cute as the Pokémon TCG, and a little easier, I think. This game was intended for all ages, so it lacks the complexities of Magic: The Gathering and is simple for little kiddies to pick up and play.
You play by having your main character duel another character ... that’s it, what could be simpler? The duel is won by leveling up your main character, playing monster, item, and tactic cards, and reducing your opponent's hit points to zero. Quick, simple, and fun.
As for the cards, there are only three types — tactic, monster, and item cards. Tactics are actions which take place immediately, monsters will defend you and attack the opponent, while items will enhance your monsters. The ingenious mechanism of the game is that each card can also be used to level up your character.
Hence, the key gameplay mechanic of the MapleStory iTCG is that you can either use the cards in your hand to play immediate actions, summon monsters, and equip your monsters with new items, or you can sacrifice your cards in order level-up your main character. So throughout the game you must always make a choice — do you sacrifice the cards in your hand in order to make your character more powerful or do you use the cards in your hand to strengthen your position?
Of course the iTCG ties directly into the MMORPG game. All characters and items are taken directly from the MapleStory MMORPG and anime (yet to be released in the USA) and each card is either a regular or a "super-special" silver card. Silver cards have special online code which will earn you items from the cash shop at no extra cost, so essentially a small part of the cost of a 9-card booster pack goes towards one or two items on the online cash shop. Barring certain character, level, and job restrictions, you may use these new items right away. For example, I got a red lounge chair which increases my health recovery rate which I was able to use in both games.
MapleStory iTCG is perfect for anyone who plays card games like the Pokémon TCG. The starter set comes with a CD to install the MapleStory MMORPG client software, two mini-decks and a booster pack. The starter set is a great way to discover both aspects of the MapleStory universe, and they complement each other nicely. See the Wizards of the Coast official site for more information on the MapleStory iTCG, including a game play demo.