CardMon Hero: The Not Quite Yu-Gi-Oh MMORPG
By: Vincent Haoson (Hao), OnRPG Journalist
The idea of Trading Card Games isn't new to the gaming scene. Magic and Pokemon Trading Card Game players are still quite prevalent within the ranks of MMORPG players. So it is natural to expect that the concept of card systems would emerge in the MMO-scene.
Cardmon Hero, is T3Fun's version of the TCG-MMO combination. Let's see how it fares on both fronts.
Look and Feel
CardMon Hero pretty much looks like your typical anime-inspired F2P MMORPG. It uses bright colors, with the inclusion of kiddie-version sprites and monsters. The game in fact reminds me of games such as FlyFF or Rose Online. The game environment is pretty light and partnered with an upbeat and catchy but repetitive tune.
The game's light-hearted nature can be entertaining, especially for those who are looking for a less serious themed MMO. CardMon Hero pushes the right buttons in terms of casual entertainment while distinguishing itself with cartoony card "partners" known as "mercenaries".
CardMon Hero's base gameplay is similar to a lot of MMORPGs out right now. The game has no innovation whatsoever in this regard save for the robust TCG System in place (which I will have to elaborate later on).
The game currently has Player vs Player, Player vs Environment and Realm vs Realm systems. The character classes follow the usual set of jobs: melee, ranged and magic. Each job class branches off to the various weapons the game has. There is also a stat system in place which is reminiscent of Diablo where your character's stats determine the weapons you can use.
CardMon Hero doesn't have a restrictive job class system unlike games such as Ragnarok Online. So long as you meet the equipment's requirements, your mage can wield a sword, or your swordsman can wield a wand.
CardMon Hero's pacing is pretty linear, with your first few steps dictated by one NPC quest after another. For those who have no inkling of what an MMORPG is (which would mean you probably lived under a rock) this would be fine and all. However, for people who already immersed themselves into one MMORPG after another, CardMon Hero's new players approach is something to be desired. In my experience, the only thing that made me bother with the newbie quests is the free items they offered as rewards made the early game far less troublesome.
TCG System Shines!
With the game's bread and butter relying heavily on its TCG system I am happy to say that CardMon Hero has a very robust one. The TCG system in CardMon Hero makes you feel like you are living in a world where your cards are real. At times I felt like I had been transported to the shadow realm of a Yu-Gi-Oh cartoon with the way some of these missions play out. However unlike in Yu-Gi-Oh where they were limited in the dark tournament ground, CardMon Hero offers a free roaming world filled with other monsters and players for you to beat down.
The "mercenaries" you summon through the cards are not to be confused with pets you would see in a typical online game. Your mercs are limited by a timer that automatically recalls the monster to its card once time has expired. This is used as a type of balancing mechanism to keep overpowered cards under control.
You can go all out and summon a variety of monsters at the same time as long as you have available slots. This adds to the mix and match card summon combination since not all monsters are the offensive type. It gives you a spectrum of choices in your summons since you have to balance between support, offensive and defensive mercs whenever you summon them.
The game also allows you to customize your mercs in the sense that you can level them up to make them sturdier or deal out more damage. You can also combine your monster cards to eventually create a stronger monster much like in Shin Megami Tensei Online.
You also have a card book which records the cards you have already collected and that contains more information on the cards you have acquired. The card book system in fact adds to the "gotta catch ‘em all" feel that's part of the TCG experience.
In tandem with the TCG system in CardMon Hero, there's a Joker system in place in the game. The Joker system gives players the opportunity to summon high level mercenaries. There's a meter on the left side of the screen that fills up whenever you summon or use a skill. Upon reaching a certain amount you can successfully summon a high level merc. There are three levels to fill in the meter and filling up each meter would mean a stronger merc. I found this added a bit of strategy to the player versus player sphere of the game, making duels feel like a game of "chicken" to see who would crack and summon their Joker first.
CardMon Hero is a good game that maximizes the TGC-MMO system to its full. However the game itself carries no innovative feature or anything fresh as an MMO. This is not a huge problem for most players since the TCG aspect is the one reason why people would play the game.
While it is commendable that CardMon Hero knows what it is as an MMO, in the long run it lacks enough variety for extended gaming. If you have a one track mind then that'd be good, but if you need variety in your MMOs, you have been warned.
I thoroughly enjoyed the mix and match aspect of the game's summoning system where you can in fact have a ton of mercs out at once. The sight of a team of summoners each unleashing an army of mercs at once is truly impressive.
The variety of the mercs you can use is another enjoyable aspect of the game since you can summon robots/mechas in tandem with elementals. These mercs really blow away the pet systems present in the majority of MMOs these days.
In the end the game is not for everybody. While it is esy to pick up and enjoy, the tedium might push those with short attention spans away. Only the true fans of TCGs or detailed pet systems need apply for this one. But if you fall into that category, I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.