|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Omiya Soft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Culdcept SAGA from Namco Bandai utilizes elements from traditional card collection games and board games to make a rather compelling fusion. This mix makes for a very interesting variant on an otherwise familiar and crowded genre. Moreover, the crisp graphics, hand drawn art work, layered strategic play, and online capabilities make this title a must buy for anyone who enjoys card and board games.
Culdcept SAGA follows the life of a poor, young peasant who has the ability to use the ancient lithograph relics of the Culdcept. In other words, he can use magical cards to kick butt. The boy doesn't know this, however, and it isn't until he is sold into slavery for the sake of his village that he becomes aware of his remarkable ability. He is a Cepter, and his journey will be fraught with challenges that will pit him against the Dark Priest Sapphius.
Cepters are able to collect potent magical cards to best others. Cepters were meant to maintain balance in the world, but they are presently considered to be more akin to ruffians, circus freaks, and performers. In fact, one of the boy's first challenges will be to scale to the heights of the coliseum as an enslaved gladiator while the Dark Priest plots world domination. Sadly, the story is only moderately engaging due to its somewhat convoluted and trite plot. Fortunately, the gameplay trumps the story and makes the title worthwhile for any board game buff.
Your Cepter will start out with a meager deck of cards (known as Books in the world of Asgard) that were given to him by the mysterious Faustina. There are nearly 500 cards in all that can be acquired throughout his journey. These cards are divided into three categories: Creature cards, Item cards, and Spell cards. Creature cards allow him to summon creatures to protect specific territories on the board or to attack lands held by another Cepter. Item cards are used to modify the abilities of summoned creatures before going into battle. They are divided into weapons, armor, tools, and scrolls. Spell cards are used by your Cepter at the beginning of the round. Spells can have either beneficial or negative effects to the board, the creatures, the Cepters or the die rolls. Some spells have an instantaneous effect, and others function for a specific length of time. They can also be used for single or multiple targets depending on how powerful the Spell card is.
Cards are also categorized by rarity. There are Normal, Strange, Rare, and Extra Rare cards that can be found by winning battles against other Cepters and fulfilling certain objectives. The better your Books are, the easier it will be to draw cards from them that will help you dominate the game board. By controlling the game board you will be able to garner magical points. Every board has a magical point total that must be met before your Cepter can be declared victorious. The more territory you own, the more gold you will collect and the more magic points you will accrue.
It sounds kind of like Monopoly doesn't it? The similarities don't stop there. You can also improve your lands to increase the value of the square. It's like buying houses or hotels. If the competition lands on your square, they must pay a toll or challenge you to a creature duel in an attempt to claim your land for their own. Furthermore, every time you pass through a fort or the main castle you will be given point bonuses. This is akin to passing Go. Finally, the more land tiles you control of one color, the better your summoned creatures will perform. This is called building a chain, and the benefits to be had from chaining are similar to those from owning all three properties of a particular color in Monopoly. Don't be worried; this game uses these Monopoly concepts to its advantage not to its detriment. It won't actually feel like you're playing Monopoly.