Part 1: Beginner City
Long ago, when Bandai wasn't merged with a company known for not exporting...
An intro movie rolls along with the show's English theme song.
That song is crap, so watch the Japanese intro instead. Oh, and since I know a little about the Japanese version, I'll be bringing up comparisons on occasion, I think they're interesting. Like the backs of the cards, for instance. In the original version they resemble the cards seen in Digimon Tamers and Digimon World 3, but in the US and PAL versions they resemble the TCG cards. (Sort of.)
And the title screen has an extra game mode in the original version, but due to language barriers I can't say much about it. Anyways, let's hit New Game and begin.
This game happens to have 3D battle animations. I tend to play with animations off just because it's faster and there aren't really many animations worth mentioning.
So, we get to name ourselves and then we get to choose a Partner card, which comes with a matching starter deck. The options are:
Veemon, who comes with an offense-oriented deck. I always, ALWAYS pick him first, and a lot of people did too. See, this game has a power-up for partners called Armor, and every partner has two Armors - except Veemon. He has three, but you can only get the third if you pick Veemon here and now. It's silly. The third Armor isn't even that much better than Veemon's first Armor, which is probably the best one. Anyhow, the other two.
Hawkmon, who comes with a balanced, speed-based deck. His Armors are based around speed, so that's something. And finally,
Armadillomon. He comes with a more defensive, support-based deck. His Armors aren't that good in my opinion.
I'm gonna roll with Veemon for the first few battles, then I'll let the thread vote on my name and starting partner. Doesn't really matter if Veemon gets picked or not, I've never selected the other two first.
And our avatar for this game happens to be the protagonist of the original Digimon World, who appears in Next Order under the moniker "Mameo". (god that's a dumb nickname)
We enter the first town, Beginner City. The point of this game is to compete in every town's Battle Arena to win the passcode to the next town. There is also a Battle Cafe, where you can talk to characters and card battle them for more cards. The Player's Room lists a variety of statistics about your play; naturally it's empty for now.
Upon entering the Battle Cafe, we meet Betamon, who can teach us how to play cards. Yeah, the Digimon themselves are your opponents in this game. Apparently they don't find it that odd to have trading cards with their pictures on them. What if I use the Betamon card against him? Wouldn't that be weird...?
Fortunately you can reject his tutorial, thank goodness. I can probably tell people how to play better than him, and I'm a terrible teacher. You can also battle Betamon normally, so let's do that.
There's a coin toss at the start to determine who goes first. I typically prefer going second because you can't attack on the first turn.
There are three phases in every turn. First is the Preparation Phase. You draw until you have four cards in your hand. If you don't like your hand, you can discard it and redraw. If you don't have a Digimon in play you'll be asked to play one, which Betamon already did in his first turn.
Digimon cards come in three levels: Rookie, Champion, and Ultimate. While you can try and play a Champion or Ultimate card straight away, doing this results in the Digimon's stats being slashed tremendously, so always start with a Rookie.
The second phase is the
However, the color of both the old and new Digimon must match! My Kokuwamon here can eventually become Gururumon, but Agumon cannot, that's why I didn't play him. Anyway, it takes 40 DP to evolve to Gururumon so it'll take one more turn for that.
The third phase is the Battle Phase. Every Digimon has three attacks, which the players select by pushing the Circle, Triangle or Cross button (hereby referred to as O, T, and X just for simplicity).
O is usually the strongest attack, but not always. X is typically the weakest but almost always has some sort of extra effect - see how it says "O to 0" under Gabumon's X attack? That means that if he uses it, my O attack does zero damage that turn. Kokuwamon has a similar X attack, but it makes his opponent's T attack do zero damage.
After that, both players can select a Support Card to use. All Digimon cards have an effect for when they're used as Support cards, and there are also special Option cards that have powerful support effects, but are only good as Support cards. You can also pull a card from the top of your deck for support, which the game refers to as an "All-or-nothing gamble" even though it's not nearly as dramatic as that.
It's worth noting that when it's your turn, your opponent selects his card first, so you can choose something to counter his card, and the attacks selected aren't revealed until after support cards are chosen. This is where most of the intrigue of this game comes from for me - it's a game of predicting what your opponent will do, figuring out what the best play is based on the visible cards and stats, and in some cases, taking a calculated risk.
And yes, both players can in fact see both hands. This is a console game, so trying to hide the hands would be just cumbersome, and I feel it adds to the prediction game anyways. This is a PS1 game made to be a PS1 game, and I love it.
So I chose to use the top card of my deck as support, and it turned out to be my partner card. That's unlucky, partner cards are at their best when they do the fighting. Veemon's support effect is to raise my attack power by 100 for one turn, AND I get to draw 1 card. That's helpful for increasing your options during your opponent's turn since you can't draw on their turn.
That Monochromon card does nothing. Betamon chose it just to empty his hand so he can draw more on his turn. Anyways, battles are simple: you lose HP equal to the power of the attack your opponent chose. If it's your turn, you attack first, and that's important to make note of if you're close to losing all your HP, and it shows on Betamon's next battle phase.
If you have battle animations on, the music during them may sound more than a little familiar.
See, I drew this with Veemon's effect. It looks like it could give my T effect enough attack power to KO Gabumon.
However, Betamon has two cards in his hand that could raise his attack power by 300 points - high enough to where he could potentially KO me. It's his turn, so I choose my support card first, ergo, I don't know if he'll use these. Of course, I could just take a chance and go with that plan anyways.
In reality, the correct play is to use the Gururumon card. It forces both players to use T instead of whatever attack was chosen. If I do that, then I can't be KO'd this turn because he can only do a maximum of 520 damage if he plays one of those cards in his hand I mentioned.
So it's my turn now and my hand fills back up. I like these Option cards, but, Betamon has his own card in his hand.
See that effect? If he uses it (And I could be giving the AI too much credit, the AI isn't stupid but it is prone to making poor decisions) then my chances of survival on his next turn are very, very low. I should have actually re-drawn my hand, since I would have had a chance of actually Evolving, but I didn't do that.
Luckily he actually didn't play his Betamon card, and I KO'd him on this turn. You win the game when you KO three of your opponent's Digimon.
Betamon then returned the favor on the next turn. That support card I used is Offense Disk O. It doubles your O attack power for the turn, but his X attack reduced it to zero anyways. Sucks, too, because that was the only time I got KO'd in this entire update.
And on the following turn, I had to throw out my hand and re-draw twice because I didn't get any Rookies. I can also see that I could have Evolved to Gururumon if I'd re-drawn in the last turn. Evolving replaces old HP with the new HP, so if you're low on HP, evolving gets you back in good shape.
Anyhow, I got a Red Rookie and Tyrannomon, and by this point I had plenty of DP, so I evolved to Tyrannomon, and look at those attacks, 550 damage is just beautiful!
Betamon picks a very BAD support card. I know I'm attacking first, so I choose a card that forces both of us to use O. This means he can't use his X effect, and his HP is reduced because of his support card.
That's KO number two.
And his third Digimon has no chance against Tyrannomon no matter what. Palmon's X attack has the Eat-Up HP effect, which means she gets back HP equal to the damage inflicted. She gets KO'd in two turns anyways.
That one single KO will haunt me for a long time. I won't give an exact play-by-play of every card battle in this game, but, I felt this battle was good for giving you an idea of how strategy works in this game. In future battles I'll just hit the highlights and tense moments, because they do pop up often in the early areas.
When you win battles in this game, your partner cards get EXP. There are many EXP bonuses you can get for fulfilling certain conditions, but I got none of them for this one, go figure. Each win also earns you a pack of three random cards.
Moving on! The other NPC at the Battle Cafe is Babamon, who is a sort of female version of Jijimon from Digimon World. You need to talk to her and Betamon to open up the Battle Arena. We've got nothing else to do, so we may as well head on over.
Battle Arenas are pretty much a series of opponents that must all be defeated without losing in between any of them. You can create up to three decks and use any of them against each opponent, but you can't edit them between opponents. We're up against Agumon in the first round.
Oh and see that background? That's the same background you see in the 3D battle animations in this town - nice little detail.
Agumon is not a hard opponent, this being the start of the game and all. It's probably obvious by now that the more colors of Digimon in your deck, the harder it is to evolve, since your Digimon cards need their colors to match. Betamon was actually worse, I think he has all five of the colors in the game in his deck!
Worth noting that Darkrizamon and Gururumon break the trend of O being the strongest of the three attacks. There are more cards in the game that reduce O to zero than there are for T or X.
I completely nailed him without even getting KO'd myself. There just so happens to be an EXP bonus for that.
This gave Veemon enough EXP to go up a level. Leveling up can raise the base stats of the partner, and it can earn you Digi-Parts, which are basically pieces of equipment for your partner cards. Messing around with these can let you make some broken cards for your deck, but we'll explore that later.
The second and final round of Beginner City's arena is Babamon herself.
She is not that much harder than Agumon. Babamon has some more powerful cards, though, this Lucky Mushroom is the only thing that can potentially save her from a KO this turn. She did not use it, however, and two more KO's swiftly followed. Babamon's problem is that she's using Ultimate-level Digimon in a deck with three colors. Ultimates are a level above Champion, and SERIOUSLY powerful, but getting to them is very hard, especially in a multi-color deck.
And I won a card from her that I could really REALLY use for a certain arena later, but since I'll be starting over with whatever name and partner the viewers choose, this good luck is going to go to waste!
One arena down, only a bajillion more to go.
You also win a pack of Option cards every time you beat this arena. Arenas are repeatable, and this one is very short, so farming it for cards isn't a bad idea.
And the first time you win, you get an Ultimate card for your deck, depending on which partner you chose. This could have been a Red Ultimate, though, I'd prefer that to the Black Ultimates.
So, that's the end of the first update! I will need you to vote on a name for the player character and which partner card to pick! Remember, your options for the partner are Veemon, Hawkmon, and Armadillomon. Pick one!
Also, feel free to ask questions if there's something you don't understand!