That said, I got in Marvel Trading Card Game in for review for the Nintendo DS. I can’t say I was teeming with excitement as I’ve never been drawn to card games, but hey it was Marvel and I enjoy most of Marvel’s universe. You hold the DS vertical, like a book, to place this game and control is done via the Stylus. The top, or left, side of the screen is used to exam playing cards close up, which is a good idea. The touch screen is used to show the playing field, but it’s very difficult to tell what’s what—icons are small and while distinguishable, for newcomers like me the game was confusing enough without the crammed, questionably designed interface.
Newcomers should definitely partake in the, admittedly, tedious tutorial to get an idea of what the heck is going on. Professor X leads you through the tutorial explaining the phases of the game, the types of cards in the game, and other aspects that you will need to know to win. It’s interesting that there are actually four types of cards, going in I was suspecting nothing but character card with attack and defense points. However, there are three other cards, Location, Plot Twist, and Equipment. Most of these are self explanatory, but for example a Plot Twist card, when called upon by a player, can greatly affect the outcome of a battle by changing attributes for character cards in battle or even forcing them to be pulled from battle altogether. Combinations of Plot Twist cards can turn a seemingly clear win to a loss rather quickly, too. Equipment cards boost Character cards’ stats by giving them more weaponry or similar equipment boost.
Card management after each player gets their initial four cards from the deck is done by utilizing your resource points to recruit new characters. New characters can be put into battle or in support roles by using the second row of the playing field. Here you can setup interesting attacker/defender and support roles so that you might have The Thing in the attacker/defender (front row) and maybe The Invisible Woman behind him to help him and at the same time afford her some protection.
Two single player campaigns are included that lead you through a story with some really snazzy cutscenes shown in comic book style. Unless you already have a good handle on the mechanics of the game and the not-so-great interface, the campaign won’t be very satisfying at all, despite the ability to play hero or villain. The tutorial is not enough, at least for a newcomer like myself, to have a working knowledge of the game so playing with a friend or struggling against the CPU might be the quickest route to learning how to play, assuming of course your interest holds up long enough, which isn’t a given.
Multiplayer for this game should excite most fans of the game. You can play with anonymous folks online or locally, and this is the type of game that usually has a passionate fan base because it’s got a steep learning curve and it’s targeting a niche audience of Marvel fans. Most Marvel fans, including myself, are much more at home with something like Ultimate Alliance as opposed to trading cards, but to each his own.