Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

I was hesitant when I found out Tekken Card Tournament exists. I mean it’s Tekken, but it’s a card game. How is that supposed to work? Pretty well, it turns out. In theory. In practice it gets cut off at the knees thanks to a terrible menu system and an over-reliance on in-app-purchases. *sigh*

It takes a few moments to really come to grips with Tekken Card Tournament’s mechanics but they’re actually fairly simple. Each “turn” consists of either a Focus, Strike, or Block. Focusing draws a card, with a hand limit of five, and getting hit while focusing will cause the first card in a player’s hand to be destroyed. Striking uses the accrued attack cards, from one to five, and deals damage to the rival player. Blocking negates the first two attack cards used in a Strike, but anything after that hits as usual. Where the strategy comes into play is in trying to guess what the opponent is going to do.

The basics of each turn have a Rock, Paper, Scissors feel to them that works surprisingly well. Getting in a free Focus because the enemy expects a Strike or landing a four-hit Strike while they’re Focusing is incredibly satisfying. The effects of the more advanced cards really help to mix things up, too, as they can refill health, block a set amount of damage, and more. There’s also a small but diverse selection of fighters to choose from including Yoshimitsu, Xiaoyu, Nina, Lili, Kazuya, Paul, Law, and “Panda” (“Kuma”). Each has their own unique cards and the combos they can pull off should be immediately recognizable o series fans.

And yet, despite being a surprising amount of fun it’s incredibly difficult to stay invested in Tekken Card Tournament, specifically because of the investment that’s required. The first problem is having so many separate fighters to play as. It’s a great idea, but it also means that finding a card that’s actually useable can take several attempts. I’ve only managed to acquire a handful of cards for Yoshimitsu despite buying several card packs. Another problem is the total lack of balancing. Playing against the AI on Easy is still a grueling battle since they have all these rare and powerful cards and abilities while I’ve got squat. It makes leveling up or even earning enough for a very slim chance at gathering better cards a major grind. Seriously, it’s about 100 coins per victory and one pack of three costs 3000. Players can sell unwanted cards for some extra coin but the interface is horrifically clunky and unintuitive. Ugh.

It’s a shame that Tekken Card Tournament is so unbalanced because it’s actually a pretty cool idea. It’s even implemented well, which is something I’d have never expected. However it’s far more irritating than entertaining when players aren’t willing or able to cough up any cash.

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