Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle Review – A Quality Deck Building Adventure

    Title: Shadowverse: Champion's Battle
    Developer: Cygames
    Release Date: August 10, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: XSEED Games
    Genre: Collectible Card Game, RPG

Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is a strange case of adaptation. The multimedia franchise began as a mobile game before releasing on PC. Instead of adopting this version of the game to Switch, Cygames decided to develop an entirely new experience using the anime setting. The rules are intact, but this is a significant change in terms of tone.

While mobile Shadowverse tends to be a dark affair, Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is a much lighter experience. After choosing a character, the story starts with joining Tensei Academy. On your first day, you make friends with Hiro and some classmates.

All of these students love Shadowverse, but Hiro is particularly obsessed with it to the point he shows up late. Still, everyone, in one way or another, is interested in it. Shadowverse has tremendous popularity in this world, and lots of people have some knowledge of it that they are willing to share.

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The students are tasked with keeping their school’s Shadowverse Club alive, having to participate in big tournaments to aim for the nationals. Along the way, players can play the digital card game against various NPCs. This is part of the gameloop where players earn rewards where they can acquire new cards.

An important aspect is exploration and sidequests. Aside from interacting with NPCs, players can find data cubes that include money and cards and some cosmetic rewards such as deck sleeves. Further, virtual card vendors can be found scattered around, offering unique cards and customizable items.

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Speaking with NPCs can lead to sidequests. This extends outside of the card game and includes helping random strangers or breaking the ice with a new girl at school. The weirder plotlines have remarkably unique characters such as the Dragoncraft bodybuilders in need of cheers or the Runecraft scholars who are always giving riddles for no apparent reason besides having fun with their specific knowledge.

Some optional quests are focused on major characters, and they are unlocked as you progress through the story. They’ll even message you on the phone, making it easy to notice when new character quests are available. Once they’re unlocked, the player only needs to look at the map to see the location markers pointing out where the missions start and fast travel to the specific area.

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This exploration will feel right at home for players who have experienced other console/handheld card games, such as the Yu-Gi-Oh! Tag Force series or SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash. The main difference is the card game itself, which has specific characteristics that can be considered a game-changer.

First of all, there are seven classes for the decks, and it is impossible to mix them. Each deck has distinct traits that significantly change the timing and are the basis for general strategies. The player can level up each class by using those, getting rewards such as cards, sleeves, and in-game trophies.

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Each player begins with 20 defense points and 40 cards during a match, with a victory obtained by getting your opponent to 0 defense. However, it’s also possible to win if they draw from an empty deck, but it’s hard for a game to drag for too long.

There are five slots for in-game cards. These are usually filled with “followers,” creatures with attack and defense points. Unless specific effects are in play, you can choose whether to attack the player or their followers. If it’s the latter and one of the cards survives the confrontation, their defense will diminish by the opposing follower’s attack.

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Another card type is amulets. These don’t have attack and defense points, but they may have specific attributes. For example, they can increase followers’ attacks and defenses, cause damage or even summon new cards after a countdown. Last but not least are spells, which take effect as soon as they are played and don’t need a slot.

Play points are necessary to play any card. The play points pool starts at 0 and increases by 1 each turn. Players also have evolution points and can spend them to transform a follower into a powered-up version. Evolving is a unique aspect of Shadowverse, and knowing when to use that resource can make a difference. 

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Followers typically can’t attack the turn they’re played, but evolution allows them to hit other followers right away. In addition, some cards have specific effects that only activate in this state. The importance of this resource is used to counterbalance the effects of play order as well, as the player who goes second has one extra evolution point available.

One thing I’d like to highlight is that there are also special battles with unique effects. These are unlocked once the player obtains Master rank and reaches the Underverse arena. This area not only offers tough battles, but some cause strange disturbances to normal rules, such as having followers invulnerable to normal attacks. However, those unique effects make for some fun card battles.

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Newcomers shouldn’t be put off by all this because Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is exceptionally beginner-friendly, and there’s a lot of experience gained until the more challenging portions of gameplay. The campaign even goes out of its way to weaken the first opponents giving them only 15 defense and a poor AI.

If you lose, you still get some money and experience and are offered the chance to try again. It also doesn’t hold losses against you by recording those, only telling you how many times you’ve won on your personal info. Another aspect that makes it beginner-friendly is the deck codes you gain when you defeat an NPC. These show exactly which cards they used, allowing you to quickly create a copy of their decks.

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By pinning a deck code you want to make, you’re able to see an orange mark whenever you see any missing cards. You can even pin all decks you don’t know how to make yet if you want or just focus on the ones you feel would be nice to play with. Pinning them also serves as a reference for replaying NPCs, as you can see what cards they may give you and thus see if it’s something you’re missing.

Besides the single-player content, there are multiplayer card battles with online and local options, with the first one restricted to people who have Switch Online. By playing online constantly, it’s possible to get rewards, including character skins.

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Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is an addicting deck-building card game on its own, but this game delivers an added campaign that makes it an adventure. Exploring the city, completing sidequests, and battling for deck codes and supremacy make each moment of playing fun. If you’re a fan of card games in general and want to try your hand at a new one, it’s a fantastic experience that’ll keep you coming back for more.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.