Innovates and Perplexes
The Strategy Card Game trend found new life outside of the nineties when Blizzard offered their streamlined mobile and PC title, Hearthstone to the masses. Since then, the mobile market has exploded with different options for fans of battling opponents with nothing more than a deck of cards. One of the latest offerings on Android, Teppen, has fans noticing.
In a move that no one saw coming, Capcom enters the fray, bringing their recognizable cast of characters to a mobile game and arguably the most original twist on the strategy card genre we have seen in years. As an added bonus, Capcom brings a level of polish only a massive company, steeped in decades of success, can afford.
The S.T.A.R.S. Are Here
Even the most casual fans of Capcom’s titles are going to recognize a few faces in Teppen. At the time of writing, there are nine playable characters including Ryu, Darkstalker’s Morrigan, Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine, Albert Wesker, Megaman’s X, Devil May Cry’s Dante, Chun-Li and Monster Hunter’s Nergigante. Each character comes with their own special ability that they can use during battles and feel, for the most part, well balanced against other characters.
With hundreds of cards across two expansions, Capcom’s most popular lore pervades every corner of this card game. It’s not uncommon to see characters from Street Fighter facing off against the protagonists of the Resident Evil franchise on the battlefield as they receive buffs from giant lizards or flaming demons.
An eye-popping illustration style allows all of these characters to somewhat believably fit into the game and it rarely disappoints. Many of the character and card animations evoke the art style of fellow Japanese developers, Vanillaware. Story missions feature brief cutscenes that zoom and pan across digital canvases, keeping the eye engaged as the game attempts to explain why an evil, zombie billionaire is squaring off against a wyvern. This art style does come at a minor cost though, the game crunches batteries like a trash truck.
Fans of Capcom’s decades-long series will likely play this game to see their favorite characters battle it out. Though, their likely to notice that story takes a backseat on this trip.
In Teppen, each character ventures into “The Land of Illusion,” a place where battles are fought between different worlds. In this arena, game writers are seemingly never employed. Why are the characters having card battles? There are more questions than answers in “The Land of Illusion.”
With nearly every other aspect of the game polished to a mirror sheen, the lack of effort put into the story sticks out as a glaring shortcoming. Story cutscenes are brief, and given that they verge on a level of nonsensical that makes most fan-fiction Pulitzer worthy, that’s fortunate.
Real Time Fun Time
Since time immemorial, card battlers have always been turn-based. Teppen reinvents the strategy card genre with battles that happen in real time. This creates a race between opponents to get their cards on the field quickly when a match begins. Players are forced to move quickly and manage their time well; the difference between winning and losing can sometimes be quickly a player replaces cards sent to the graveyard.
Aside from the real-time element, players of other strategy card titles will feel right at home here. The standards such as mana and rarity set in place by Magic: The Gathering and its disciples are all here.
Both online and in single-player missions, balance is the primary concern and Capcom’s first card-based mobile venture nails it. The newest addition to the roster, Jill Valentine, does feel slightly overpowered. In higher-level play, however, opponents have found effective ways of neutralizing this advantage.
Even with a few hundred cards available, some players may find variety a bit lacking. More expansion packs are surely on their way, which will add further wrinkles to gameplay. For now, however, it may only take newcomers a few hours to build their ultimate card deck. Importantly, Capcom is extremely generous with card packs offering several with each daily login with no content left inaccessible behind paywalls.
To longtime fans of Strategy Card Games, Teppen will feel like a breath of fresh air. To those new to the genre, the game is friendly enough in its current state that most will enjoy it out of the box and understand intermediate strategies in just a handful of matches. While it is not without its shortcomings, Capcom’s Teppen does more than enough to earn the adoration of fans for months, or even years to come.
Is it Hardcore?
Though it isn’t without its pitfalls, Capcom’s new strategy card game offers a new twist on the genre. With characters from most of its major franchises and a great deal of strategic depth, Teppen is a joy to play.