Tekken Card Tournament (iOS/Android) review

Tekken Card Tournament is a new iOS and Android game from Namco Bandai’s European arm. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play, and carries numerous in-app purchases.

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As the title suggests, Tekken Card Tournament is a digital collectible card game based on Namco’s popular and long-running fighting game series Tekken. Players make use of decks of virtual cards themed after characters from the Tekken franchise, and then take the fight to either computer- or human-controlled opponents in live online turn-based one-on-one battles.

The fighting gameplay in Tekken Card Tournament makes use of a “rock, paper, scissors” system whereby each player may pick one of three actions on each turn. Choosing to “Focus” allows you to draw a card into your hand, up to a limit of five. Choosing “Strike” allows you to attack with all the cards in your hand and also destroys the first (oldest) card in your opponent’s hand if they choose to Focus. Choosing “Block,” meanwhile, blocks the first two cards from an opponent’s hand if they choose to “Strike,” but otherwise has no effect. The challenge of the game primarily consists of determining what the opponent is likely to do next based on the cards they have in their hand — except under special circumstances, both players’ hands are visible to one another — and then taking the optimum course of action. Play is kept pacy thanks to a time limit for each turn and a mechanic which obliterates both players’ hands completely if they both block for more than two turns in succession.

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Between games, players have the opportunity to manage their decks in several ways. The initial tutorial sequences provide the player with a couple of extra cards with which they can customize their first deck, but beyond that booster packs of cards must be purchased using either soft or hard currency. The booster packs offered for soft currency contain three cards randomly selected from all the characters’ decks, so there is no guarantee the player will get a card they can use — in order to start using a new character, they must have at least 15 cards to make a new deck. The hard currency packs, meanwhile, also offer three cards , but still not for specific characters — instead, they are “themed” packs that offer cards for three of the available characters. There is also a more expensive “Ultra Pack” available for a larger amount of hard currency — this offers five cards from the complete collection, guarantees a rare card and offers increased opportunities to get “Elite” and “Super-Rare” cards that are typically more powerful.

This isn’t the only way to get new cards, however — unlike most online card games, Tekken Card Tournament embraces the “trading cards” aspect with an online market where players may both buy and sell cards from their collection. This can be a good means of making profit, as some cards sell for a high price — but purchasing an individual card for a specific character typically costs well over ten times the amount a single soft currency booster pack costs. Cards may only be bought and sold for soft currency.

Once the player hits level 4, they are also able to make use of a “fusion” system to fuse cards together and power them up. This provides yet another means of acquiring more cards, though it is something of a grind to reach level 4 with the basic cards available, because there’s a bit of a problem with price balancing in the game — booster packs are incredibly expensive, making it extremely difficult for new players to acquire new cards without paying or spending a significant amount of time grinding. For those who wish to grind their way to a larger collection, further insult is added to injury thanks to a rather stingy “stamina” system that restricts the number of battles which can be indulged in in a single session — and this bar doesn’t refill upon level up. Stamina is occasionally offered as a reward for successfully completing a battle, but otherwise it is either a case of expending hard currency or waiting an extremely long time for it to regenerate with no on-screen indication of how long this will take.

This overly-aggressive monetization strategy — which a number of App Store reviewers have commented negatively on — is a bit of a shame, because aside from this it’s a very good game. The interactive online battles have considerably more depth than many other card battle games on mobile platforms, the game is presented well with decent (if slightly dated-looking) 3D graphics and high-quality sound, and there’s certainly plenty to do. It’s just a pity that so much of the game is clearly designed to force the player in the direction of the in-app purchases rather than letting them decide how much they’d like to invest in the game for themselves.

It’s also worth noting that the Tekken name’s high profile has caused a significant amount of demand for this game, and this has caused some problems. On Android, for example, the in-app purchase facility is completely unavailable, and on iOS it is unreliable. The developers also had to temporarily disable the ability for players to compete against one another as the game’s matchmaking facility was unable to cope with the strain. According to an in-game news post, this feature should be re-enabled today, but at the time of writing it was still impossible to fight against a live opponent.

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On the whole, Tekken Card Tournament shows a significant degree of potential, but the combination of its broken features and overly-aggressive monetization make it a title to be cautious about. Hopefully these situations will improve over time and make a better game as a result, but for the moment this game still needs some work.

Tekken Card Tournament is currently ranked at No. 160 in Top Free Apps, No. 20 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 54 in Top Free Games and No. 12 in Top Free iPad Games on iOS, and No. 146 in the Card Game category on Android. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

Wait

A potentially very good trading card game with some significant flaws at present.