Stand and Fight!
Vanguard ZERO, the mobile game version of Bushiroad International’s popular anime and trading card game Cardfight!! Vanguard, follows the story of Aichi Sendou. Frequently tormented by bullies, the shy middle school kid receives a Blaster Blade card from a kind passerby. This gift spurs Aichi to build his deck and begin to hang out at the local TCG shop. Here, he makes friends, gains confidence, and becomes a Vanguard champion.
This is a difficult review to write due to the simple fact that…I never really figured out how to play the game. I like to think that I’m not particularly slow on the uptake and that I learn new things fairly easily. That said, it’s a trading card game. How difficult can it be? Yet, despite hours spent trying to understand more than the rudiments of the game, I never felt like I knew what I was doing. Every victory was due to chance and not skill. And, honestly, I lost more often than I won.
What Am I Doing Exactly?
While the developers at GameStudio do an okay job of taking you through the basics of Vanguard ZERO, newcomers like me, who either have limited experience playing trading card games or have never played this particular TCG, might need to look elsewhere to learn what’s up. I refused to do that. I felt like the video game version of a popular TCG should take the time to thoroughly teach the rules of the game, as most digital card games do. So I intentionally didn’t look online for guidance, and therefore I never learned.
The game menu has a section called Training Fight whose intention is to teach the mechanics step by step. But things are only briefly demonstrated rather than actually explained, and these mini tutorials simply didn’t cut it for me. In fact, I failed some multiple times and only finally beat them because I tried different tactics until one worked. And there are two tutorials that I never completed because I didn’t understand what I needed to do.
Part of the problem might be translation issues that make the instructions slightly obtuse. However, the devs seem to have assumed that players already know something about Cardfight!! Vanguard. For example, in the above tutorial screenshot, the text says: “Soul Blast is to put a card in your Soul to the Drop Zone. So it’s great to always know if your Soul cards are enough.” First of all, this is the first time the words Soul Blast, Soul, and Drop Zone have ever been used in any of the tutorials. These two sentences make no sense to me and yet they’re the basis of the whole tutorial.
The More You Know
Players more experienced with Cardfight!! Vanguard or those who have successfully learned to play Vanguard ZERO might find that the mobile game has more to offer than what I got from it. The story campaign follows the original anime and the adventures of Aichi Sendou and his friends. The game faithfully recreates well-known scenes from the show; there are even short animated videos to watch. The story in Vanguard ZERO is recounted in chapters interspersed with card battles. Each chapter features a different opponent, as well as varying missions and rules for victory. Successfully completing a mission rewards in-game currency such as gems, coins and gacha tickets.
In Vanguard ZERO, the rules and some game mechanics have been simplified or changed from the standard TCG to allow for faster action and interaction. Furthermore, skilled players can participate and advance in championship fights that will be held regularly. For example, the Vanguard ZERO 2020 Championships have recently been announced. A series of ranked fights will culminate in the top 12 fighters battling it out in the Championship Finals, and the winners will receive various amounts of gems.
Unfortunately, I didn’t progress far enough into the game to see the different chapters and will definitely never qualify for a championship fight. Some players might not mind throwing down for a battle with just a loose grasp of the basics. However, many will find that the frustration of losing or winning and not fully understanding why simply isn’t fun. If I’m going to spend time with a game, I want to know what I’m doing so that I can do it well. In order to achieve that with Vanguard ZERO, I need to invest time doing research outside of the game. And I’m just not willing to do that.
Is It Hardcore?
Maybe too much.
Vanguard ZERO has something to offer for some players, I’m sure. But with its half-assed, poorly localized tutorials, it’s going to fly over a lot of gamers’ heads.