When it comes to mobile games, TEPPEN may just be the biggest surprise I’ve found in a long time. That being said, it very nearly wasn’t a game I picked up at all!
I see adverts on Facebook all the time for mobile games, many of them being of questionable quality – games that advertise themselves as Pokèmon ripoffs that play nothing like them and have no Pokèmon involved for example.
Naturally then when I saw an advert for a game showcasing Ryu from Street Fighter but in a game with a name two letters removed from Tekken, my brain ignored it and I skipped past it. Twice!
Luckily I saw the ad again this morning and my eye caught something I missed previously – this game was actually being advertised by Capcom themselves. My curiosity peaked, I had to give it a look and I’m really glad I did!
Based on what little I had seen, I had assumed this was a fighting game. Instead I was very pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a collectible card game (CCG) based on many Capcom properties!
Starting the game initially throws you straight into Ryu’s “Hero story”, a set of three matches designed to quickly teach you the basics of the game whilst also giving you a chance to learn how his deck functions. Completing this unlocks Ryu as a playable character along with his deck.
Once this is done you can play the Hero Stories of the other 7 characters to unlock them and their decks for use. These stories are very basic, mostly existing just to give a passing explanation of why all these characters are interacting with each other. I do like how they all line up though – Ryu fights Chun-Li during his story, whilst in her story you see her fighting Ryu from her perspective. I appreciate the details and as I’ll go into soon, this game is full of them.
Being a CCG, all fighting is done through the use of cards. There are four colour types of card – red, green, purple and black. Each focuses on seperate strategies – red being mostly offensive, green being mostly healing and support options and so on. Each of the 8 characters also has a favoured card colour, who in turn can use a special ability that usually ties in to abilities of that card type.
Each character can be levelled seperately and if you stick with the same one for a few matches you quickly unlock Hero Arts, which changes the super move that character uses and encourages further exploration of deck building around a special move you like.
I have played a variety of card games before (Pokèmon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Hearthstone etc.) and so far TEPPEN has the most frantic gameplay pacing of them all, despite being deceptively simple at first glance.
Both players constantly have a hand of 5 cards, with new cards being drawn as soon as one is played. Two main types of cards exist – Units and Actions.
Units are character cards and each player can have 3 on the board at any given time. Positioning matters in TEPPEN with a top, middle and bottom slot for Units to be summoned in. When summoned, a Unit will automatically begin trying to attack the Unit on the enemies side in their respective slot, represented by a blue line for outgoing attacks and orange for incoming ones. If an attack connects with an enemy Unit both take damage based on their attack values, whilst if there is no Unit to defend the player takes direct damage.
Actions meanwhile are cards that have a variety of effects – doing direct damage to Units, shielding the character or their cards, increasing attack values and so on. If an Action is used, the opponent has a chance to counter with an action of their own, starting a back and forth chain resulting with the last card to be played resolving first. Very similar to how chains work in Yu-Gi-Oh if you are familiar with it.
All cards require MP to use, a constantly regenerating resource that requires a good eye for resource management to get the most out of, especially when considering AP which is used for the aforementioned Hero Arts – playing a card exchanges the MP used for AP, so using a 3 MP card will refund you with 3 AP.
This means at any moment you can be trying to keep track of your hand, the amount and status of Units on the field as well as their attacks, your MP and both players’ AP… I honestly thought the game felt too slow during the early matches but once everything is in play I quickly began to appreciate the amount of real time mental juggling involved to play properly. It might be a bit much for some but I found getting everything right and pulling off victories immensely satisfying.
Beyond the gameplay itself, I was blown away by the quality of everything. The art work is excellent across the board, from the cards themselves, the animations that play when Hero Arts are used, the still images that are used during the Hero Stories, even the title screen looks nice!
The audio design is much better than I anticipated as well – the sound effects are solid, the music is excellent and reminiscent of the games they come from… They even got voice actors in for the main characters! It was great hearing Reuben Langdon reprise his role as Dante, even more so when I immediately recognised D. C. Douglas as Resident Evil’s Albert Wesker.
Honestly the whole game feels like a massive love letter to Capcom’s games. Many of the cards themselves represent many characters and events from across the various series’ used here and I can’t help but love everything this game references.
That being said I do have one complaint – this could very easily be what I consider a “gateway game”, something that may introduce a Resident Evil fan to characters from Devil May Cry for example. Unfortunately though unless I missed something I couldn’t find anything telling me what games characters come from. Even two of the main playable characters, Rathalos and Nergigante, are ones I had to Google as I didn’t know what games they come from. This seems like such an easily fixable issue and I hope they do something to address it in future.
Also microtransactions do exist in this game, but right now I don’t feel comfortable enough to comment on the state of them. I’m currently only a day into the game and as with most games like this I’ve been obtaining lots of card packs and card crafting materials. Only time will tell if the model being used here is a fair one.
That being said, developers GungHo Online Entertainment have really done an incredible job here and I look forward to playing more and messing around with various playstyles in future!