Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Portable Card Games Come To Life In Switch's Shadowverse

Shadowverse Champion's Battle Splash
Courtesy of XSEED Games

Shadowverse: Champion's Battle

Developer: Cygames
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: August 10, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

The Hit Mobile Card Game Shadowverse Debuts On Switch

My initial thoughts of trying out Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle on the Switch was met with a familiar curiosity. I sensed that I’ve seen the brand before, the monsters---I mean followers used, and even its overall gameplay. It didn’t immediately click, but upon opening my Steam account I realized that the Shadowverse franchise is not a new IP, not even in the slightest.

Known more for Granblue Fantasy, longtime mobile game developer Cygames wanted to give the online card battle genre for a spin while also staying true to their mobage gacha roots. In 2016, Shadowverse was released on mobile and PC, the latter of which I played many years ago upon launch, with many players comparing it to another rising card game at the time, Hearthstone.

Shadowverse: Champion's Battle Anime Cutscene
Shadowverse: Champion's Battle - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Shadowverse -- From High Fantasy To Children's Anime?

Fast forward four years later and it seems Cygames had “rebranded” the Shadowverse IP into a shounen anime, using the same art style of the original cards in the game, yet with a very vibrant Saturday morning anime coat of paint. While some of the artwork for the cards was redone to fit the mold that the new Shadowverse was going for, some of its more realistic art in comparison to its bright cartoon world is a bit clashing.

But it goes to show how popular Shadowverse is in terms of the mobage genre if Cygames was able to create an entire anime based on their card game, with fans of the IP knowing about the game thanks to the anime itself. That said, fans of Shadowverse and card games will feel right at home with this sort of thing. Like many before it, including Yu-Gi-Oh and Cardfight Vanguard, Champion’s Battle is a collectathon where you obtain cards through various means and build a deck that’s strong enough to take on challengers both in a single-player campaign and online multiplayer.

Shadowverse: Champion's Battle Gameplay
Shadowverse: Champion's Battle - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

The Gameplay Remains Intact Despite Initial Appearances

The story, much like the anime mentioned prior, features all of the tropes that one will be familiar with in terms of anime cliches. Loud-mouthed protagonist? Check. Athletic dudebro who is the protagonist’s friend? Check. A hard-assed student council president who is revealed to be the biggest nerd in the entire school? Triple check. Everyone in the series having their crazy hairstyles from the same stylist? You know it.

Players who look past that can see that there’s quite a bit of depth regarding the game of Shadowverse, even to newbies of the card game genre. For those inexperienced, there’s an expansive tutorial both in-game and in the confines of an actual physical manual that is colored and almost 30 pages long to get players up to speed. Seeing such detail in a game case is so rare that it’s expected to open a game case and see nothing more than a mere “privacy warning” so kudos to Cygames and XSEED games for putting in that effort!

Gameplay Shadowverse: Champion's Battle 2
Shadowverse: Champion's Battle - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

"Anime Hearthstone," For Those Who Never Played Shadowverse

I’ve mentioned Hearthstone several times, but for those who hadn’t played or heard of the game before, Hearthstone is a card game developed by Blizzard in which you summon units, each unit having an attack and a defense modifier, and use said units to attack the player directly. Some units can block enemy attacks, protecting the player, while other units have special abilities upon summon or defeat. A similar title from Riot Games, Legends of Runeterra, is similar to both titles.

Shadowverse has a unique mechanic where you can “evolve” your monsters after a certain number of turns. Evolved monsters are not only stronger, activating their hidden abilities for certain units, but summoned evolved monsters forego their “summoning sickness,” allowing them to attack other units on the turn they are summoned. This mechanic can turn the battle around quickly, so strategy is involved when it comes to playing the long game.

Gameplay Finale
Shadowverse: Champion's Battle - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Overall the gameplay itself is easy to learn, providing hints on suggested moves for beginners while spurring up interesting combos for players who are experienced. Underneath all the sugar-induced visuals courtesy of its anime source material lies a surprisingly solid card game that fans of previously similar titles will love. Consider it as “Heartstone” on the go as this is the Switch, so playing such a thing on your early commute without having to be tied down to an “online-only” scenario may be a deal clincher when it comes to Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle.

Shadowverse: Champion's Battle is available for the Nintendo Switch.

Leave a Reply