Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, Card Game
Developer: Cygames
Publisher: XSEED, Marvelous Europe
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle – Review

Site Score
6.7
Good: Great OST
Bad: Probably not worth it if you're not already a fan
User Score
5.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 5.7/10 (3 votes cast)

At the risk of sounding like an old fart: at first glance, the Shadowverse anime seems like the latest in a long line of commercial shows designed to sell expensive collectibles to kids, in the same vein as something like Bakugan, Medabots or Beyblade. Few of these have the same staying power of something like Yu-Gi-Oh or the one that started them all, Pokémon. Because of this, when we were offered the chance to give spinoff game Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle a go, we were admittedly quite cynical about what we saw. Would Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle be able to convince us of its merit, or is this a piece of shovelware that should be avoided like the plague?

Story

We’re going to go ahead and admit that we’re unfamiliar with Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle’s source material, so apologies in advance to any hardcore fans of the Shadowverse anime if we should make any mistakes while trying to explain Champion’s Battle’s plot. As far as we can tell, this is an original story set in the same universe as the Shadowverse anime, and as such, it features the main cast of the show alongside the player, who takes on the role of a new protagonist: a transfer student. Champion’s Battle is set at Tensei Academy, a school where most students are obsessed with the Shadowverse card game. As this is a Japanese school, students also engage in after-school club activities, and the latest club to have been funded is -of course- the Shadowverse club.

The first part of the game centers around our transfer student and how he or she attempts to fit into their new surroundings as they get acquainted with Shadowverse. It also tackles the founding and early days of the Shadowverse club. Naturally, our protagonist quickly becomes friends with the three poster kids of the franchise: Hiro, Kazuki and Mimori. Of course, things need to be kept interesting throughout the game’s story, and although we won’t spoil what happens, rest assured that there is more to the student council president Kagura Kirisama, and why she’s keeping an eye on the Shadowverse club from behind the scenes.

Graphics

Champion’s Battle’s visuals stick close to those of the anime, with accurate 3D representations of the characters that the fanbase has come to know and love. The aesthetics are fairly simple as a result and shouldn’t be too taxing on whatever hardware you run Champion’s Battle on. We would have like to see a more detailed environment and greater variety in NPC designs, given that there is a huge contrast between the “generic” students and the ones important to the story. It’s fairly easy to pick out the characters important to the plot, as they have outlandish haircuts and exaggerated features. Surprisingly, the player character actually looks quite bland, and although we would’ve loved to have seen some sort of character customization here, this would’ve been difficult to pull off, given that the protagonist appears in the animated cutscenes of the game. There’s also a huge disparity between the card illustrations, which are quite detailed and realistic, and the more simplistic anime designs of the game’s overworld. This shouldn’t be too surprising as it’s something we’ve seen before in Yu-Gi-Oh, and the difference in art styles between the cards and the overworld isn’t too jarring.

Sound

As you’d expect from an anime adaptation, there is a fair bit of voice acting present. While we couldn’t find any confirmation online whether the English voice cast of the game is the same as that of the anime dub (or if an English-language dub exists in the first place), the voice actors perform an admirable job, making the lead cast likable. In a similar vein, other characters that play a significant part in the plot are brought to life through above-average performances. Generic students’ voices don’t stand out as much -which makes sense- but thankfully, the music does. Whether it’s the upbeat tunes that play in the school or the dramatic battle music, the game’s OST is a highlight. The sound effects employed throughout battles are excellent too, although we weren’t a fan of the effects used for some of the monsters, which were a bit on the cheesy side.

Gameplay

Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is a video game adaptation of the Shadowverse anime, which in itself is an adaptation of the 2016 free-to-play digital card game of the same name. As such, the game’s core is built around card game battles, combined with light RPG elements as you play through the overarching story. We’re not familiar with the “standard” version of Shadowverse, so we can’t say for sure whether the card game battles featured in Champion’s Battle are an accurate representation of the core game or a watered-down version aimed at a younger audience, but the mechanics we’re getting here are fairly solid, if a little simplistic.

While we’re not going to delve into the details of the rules for the card game too much, rest assured that it’s fairly easy to familiarize yourself with the basics, in part thanks to a lengthy tutorial section. Like many similar card games, the aim is to knock down your opponent’s hit points to zero to win the game. This is done by using resources in order to summon creatures that can knock out any opposing creatures as well as attack your opponent directly. There are various elemental types, each of which offers a unique playstyle, such as Forestcraft, which is built around summoning cheap but weak Fairy cards, or Dragoncraft, which lets you rain down massive damage on your opponents at the expense of having creatures that are easily taken down.

Elemental types cannot be combined when you’re building a custom deck, although neutral cards can be slotted into any type of deck. While building a deck yourself certainly is an option, you’re likely better off collecting deck codes by beating other students, and then collecting the cards necessary to build those specific decks. Unlike most digital card games -including, ironically, the original Shadowverse-, Champion’s Battle is a complete standalone experience that doesn’t require you to partake in microtransaction shenanigans to build up your card collection. The game faithfully recreates the feeling of buying boosters and (more expensive) specific cards that you might need to fill gaps in your collection, but it’s all handled with in-game currency, which you receive by beating the snot out of your opponents and by selling excess cards -something the game does automatically once you’ve reached the deck threshold for each card.

Card game battles are Champions Battle’s bread and butter, although the game does feel like it relies far more on luck than on strategy. There is a good chance that there is more strategic depth to Shadowverse than meets the eye, but compared to titles like Faeria, Causa and even Cardpocalypse, we found it more difficult to build a deck that worked consistently. More often than not, our victories were the result of dumb luck instead of tactical thinking, and we even won a few games by simply throwing whatever trash cards we had together into a deck just to see what would happen. The game itself indirectly pushes you away from strategizing. For example, if you’re holding on to a card because it’s utterly useless at that time, when you decide to end your turn, a prompt will pop up, telling you you still have enough action points to play that card. Given the high school anime setting, we assume that Champion’s Battle is aimed at a younger audience, but this level of hand-holding gets old really fast, and we imagine it also turns off the target demographic.

Speaking of the high school setting, while we appreciate the high school setting and the level of immersion it creates, we do feel that the RPG elements of the game are only there to make Champion’s Battle more marketable to the anime’s fan base. Compared to something like Cardpocalypse, which was a much more character-driven experience, Champion’s Battle falls a little flat in this regard, especially since most NPCs have a personality that has the depth of a soup bowl. It’s a delicate balance, as offering Champion’s Battle the way it is makes it feel like a complete package. Had the original Shadowverse experience been ported to the Switch, we would’ve ventured into microtransaction territory, something that wouldn’t have meshed well with the game’s target demographic, which would have made it hard for this title to compete with the abundance of other digital card games that are currently available on the Switch.

If you’re not already a fan of Shadowverse, then this title probably won’t convince you, as the card game (or at least this version, as again, we don’t know how it compares to the standard version) is outclassed by its direct competitors. Fans of the series will probably find this an enjoyable title and for what it’s worth, it’s definitely a well-made game and not a piece of shovelware that was rushed to the store shelves in order to cash in on the popularity of the franchise. We’re simply not sure whether there’s enough meat on Champion’s Battle’s bones to be worth its asking price. The game features online play, as well as the ability to go head to head with a friend, provided each player has their own copy of the game. Sadly, we’re not sure if that is enough to ensure long-time viability for Champion’s Battle.

Conclusion

With Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle, XSEED offers up a decent but unexceptional adaptation of the Shadowverse franchise that is sure to please fans. It’s a well-presented and enjoyable title, although the card game mechanics would have benefited from more strategic depth and less reliance on dumb luck. Offering Champion’s Battle as a complete package, rather than relying on microtransactions certainly was the right call, although we’re not sure whether the premium asking price that comes with a single purchase is going to be worth it for anyone that isn’t already a fan of the franchise. As for the online component, long-time Shadowverse players will probably stick to their existing digital collections, rather than start fresh with a card collection that won’t remain up-to-date with future expansions.

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Rating: 5.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Shadowverse: Champion's Battle - Review, 5.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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