Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle Legendary Edition Review (Switch)

Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle Legendary Edition Review: A Deck-builder That Stands Out in an Increasingly Crowded Field

 

Shadowverse: Legendary Edition | Logo

 

 

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know I have something of an obsession with deck-building games. I can’t ever seem to get enough of them. Good, bad, or in-between, they’re kind of like Pokemon in that I gotta have ‘em all. So of course I jumped at the chance to review Cygames’ Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle Legendary Edition. The Legendary Edition of the game comes with the same original game, just with additional DLC that allows you to win some pretty nifty rare cards and items when reaching certain season levels.

 

A Feel-Good Story

 

shadowverse

The story and writing in Shadowverse is simply… adorable? Heartwarming? Feel-good-y? All of the above at least, and probably more. In the vein of many a JRPG, players control a voiceless protagonist who joins a new school and becomes friends with an unlikely group of students. You and your new friends need to find a club to join, and with your shared love of the titular Shadowverse game, it only makes sense to join the Shadowverse club, right? Well, not so fast. In spite of how overwhelmingly popular Shadowverse is, apparently there are some incredibly serious students at this school, because everybody is already booked up in other extracurricular clubs that are decidedly more… academic. With so few club members, the class president is determined to shut the club down. It’s up to you and your friends to prove her wrong by winning, of all things, the Shadowverse World Championship. Seems totally reasonable for a group of kids wanting to have fun.

Honestly, this is my one and only complaint about the story, and it really sticks in my craw for some reason: Why is the Shadowverse club so wildly unpopular when the game is literally everywhere? Kids (and adults!) play it everywhere you go. You can challenge people to battles in parks, people standing on the sidewalk, people out shopping, people… well, you get the idea. Almost everybody seems to play the game, yet there aren’t enough students to get a club up and off the ground? There’s an entire stadium built just to play the game for cryin’ out loud! In the grand scheme of things, and for a game as big as Shadowverse, it’s a comparatively minor complaint, but one worth mentioning.

 

Easy to Learn, Hard to Master (in a Good Way)

 

shadowverse

Gameplay in Shadowverse is a mix of RPG and deck-building mechanics. You can control your character and wander around a surprisingly large game world; you can explore the huge school, go to the shopping district, the park, the arena, and more. As you progress through the game, more areas will open up, expanding the world further. It’s a nice addition to a deckbuilder, which often feels very two-dimensional. Of course, the bulk of the game focuses on the Shadowverse card game itself, and it delivers in spades. Whenever you enter into a match against another player, one of you will be randomly selected to go first. There are some pros to going first and to going second. For instance, if you go first, you accrue points earlier than your opponent, allowing you to play higher-level cards sooner, as well as being able to lay down first. Going second, however, lets you draw two cards on your first turn instead of one, and you get an extra evolution (more on that later).

At the start of each match, you’ll initially draw three cards, and can pick and choose which ones to reshuffle into your deck to draw new cards, and which ones to keep. At the start of each round, you’ll draw a card, and you’ll earn one more play point than you did the previous round. For example, if you go first, you’ll have one play point your first round, two play points your second round, three points your third round, and so on and so forth until the tenth round, which caps your play points at ten given per round. Each card you play has an associated cost, represented in the top left corner of the card. You can play up to your play point limit during your turn, and you can have up to five of your cards laid down on your side of the field at any given time. You and your opponent will have up to a maximum of 20 hit points, and the goal is to reduce your opponents hit points to 0 before they do the same to you. Those are the very, very, very basic basics of Shadowverse.

 

Deep, Complex Gameplay

 

To add a unique and delightful component to your standard deck-builder, Shadowverse has decks split up into seven different classes: Forestcraft, Swordcraft, Runecraft, Dragoncraft, Shadowcraft, Bloodcraft, and Havencraft. Each class has its own unique set of cards, which naturally come with their own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, Runecraft (my personal favorite) relies on using spell cards to “spell boost” the cards in your hand – that is, playing spell cards powers up the cards in your hands before you even play them. Havencraft, on the other hand, is a slow burn, requiring you to play amulet cards that summon powerful monsters, but only after a set number of turns have passed. It’s incredibly fun to try out the different classes and see which ones suit your style of play the best.

You can, of course, create your own decks, but it’s important to note that you can’t mix class cards. So, no combination of Runecraft and Dragoncraft, for instance, though there are certain neutral cards that can be added to any deck. For new players or people who struggle composing their own decks, many of the NPCs you defeat will gladly give you their deck code, letting you assemble pre-made decks that are surprisingly well thought out. In addition to the different classes, there are tons of cards with effects that activate under certain conditions. For example, cards that have the “Storm” ability are able to attack the same turn they’re played (typically cards can only attack the turn after they’re set), cards that have “Ward” make it so they must be targeted before attacks can land on other cards or deplete HP, and the “Last Word” ability effects are triggered when that card is destroyed. There are so many play styles that there is definitely something for every type of player in this game.

 

Adorable Anime Style

 

shadowverse

Aesthetically, there’s almost nothing to fault with Shadowverse. The style reminds me a lot of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, where everything is bright, anime-y, and adorably charming. The voice acting is really quite good, and helps give the already well-fleshed-out characters even more depth. The soundtrack is perhaps not always exciting or engaging, but overall it’s solid and enjoyable. The art on the cards is certainly exceptional, and I frequently found myself reviewing each and every new card I came across just to enjoy the artwork. Now, I did have to say “almost nothing” because there was one recurring problem I ran into: frame rate. I honestly couldn’t figure out the rhyme or reason to the drop in the frame rate each time it occurred, as it seemed completely random. It wasn’t especially frequent, but common enough to be noticeable and annoying.

 

A Deck-builder That Delivers Again and Again

 

It’s impossible for me to not recommend Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle. There’s an incredible depth of strategy lovingly crafted into the cards, a story that just makes you feel good in the best of ways, delightful and memorable characters, and gameplay that will have you returning again and again. There are a ton of online play options as well, and if you have multiple friends with a copy of the game, you can even spectate their matches. I know I seem to say this about most deck-builders, but honestly, this one is a standout among standouts. Even with some of the aforementioned issues I had with this game, it’s easily one of the best games I’ve played this year.


Final Verdict: 4.5/5

Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed); Publisher: Marvelous, XSEED; Developer: Cygames Studios; Players: 1; Released: August 9th, 2022; ESRB: T for Teen; MSRP: $29.99

Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.

Daymon Trapold
Once upon a time, he wrote for oprainfall. Now, he's scraping off the rust to get back into writing about the games he loves. From his humble origins of playing the Atari and Commodore 64, he now dabbles in just about every console there is. Although he has a particular love of hardcore dungeon-crawlers, roguelikes, and niche JRPGs, some of his favorite games include Earthbound, Persona 3, Eternal Sonata, Bravely Default, Tales of the Abyss, and Fate/Extra. If his geek cred wasn't good enough, he's also a bassoonist.

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