Born to be wild!
When I heard that Capcom’s new mobile game was going to be called “Teppen”, one of the first things that came to mind was that I absolutely needed to sign up as soon as possible and take the name “Teppenwolf”. Unfortunately, other engagements meant I ended up signing up for the game quite late, and so assumed someone else would have taken the name….
…surprisingly, no-one had! (I suspect this is due to the fact that the word “Teppen” is not allowed as part of a username, so apparently nobody got “creative” in quite the way that I did: spelling the name “TeppnWolf”) And so, thus motivated, I was off to the races.
Teppen is a free to play game for Android and iOS. You can get the game on your smartphone’s app store right now for no money whatsoever; and I suspect that if you do so, you might soon find yourself having quite a good time.
A thing of beauty
The game’s impressive artwork is based on Capcom’s action games, such as the popular “Street Fighter” games. However, the playable characters in Teppen aren’t limited to fan favourites such as Ryu and Chun-Li; there are characters from other Capcom action games, such as Dante from “Devil May Cry”, X from “Mega Man X”, and Jill Valentine from “Resident Evil”. The characters are represented by high quality artwork in the form of fluidly animated character poses, and crisp still images for the visual novel-style story mode.
As far as presentation goes, this game is gorgeous. Its’ graphics are extremely high quality, and will take full advantage of the capabilities of your device, if you happen to have spent a bunch of cash on a high-spec phone. The polish doesn’t end there, though, as enthusiastic voice acting, atmospheric music and strong, familiar sound effects ensure that the game provides a pleasant experience.
However, presentation is worth nothing without gameplay, so sooner or later you’ll find yourself going onto the battlefield to challenge other players, or the CPU as part of the game’s many single player modes. And when you choose to do this, how exactly is the game played?
Card based battle
As a mobile game, it won’t come as a surprise to most that Teppen owes much of its’ design to traditional “Trading card games” such as Yu-gi-oh, Pokemon cards, or Magic The Gathering. However, as it isn’t actually based on a card game, it is much closer to Blizzard’s deck-based action game “Hearthstone”. You build a “deck” of cards, which represent fighters you can place on the battlefield, or actions you can take in combat. Each character has a special “colour” which determines the type of card they are best suited to include in their deck, so you’ll find yourself filling a Ryu deck with red “attack” cards, that feature aggressive fighters and damaging special actions, or if you preferred a Chun-Li deck, you’d fill it with green cards which feature more defensive fighters and protective actions.
The game features several pre-built “starter” decks for each character, so you don’t have to go through with creating your own personal deck right off the bat. This is convenient, as it allows you to jump right into combat and face other players also using pre-built decks, without needing to bother with the finer details of deck-building.
Once you’re in combat, you’ll summon fighters to the battlefield using cards that you’ll automatically draw from your deck, based on an action meter that fills at the bottom of the screen. Your fighters will launch attacks across the field at your enemy , and will block enemy attacks that are directed at them. There are three slots where you can place your fighters, and if a fighter dies and leaves a slot open, the enemy combatant can launch their attacks straight at you. You can directly affect the battlefield with action cards, and eventually, summoning enough fighters and performing enough actions will result in gaining the ability to unleash your character’s super move.
The super moves are accompanied by action-packed animations, and combined with the fast paced, real-time nature of the game, really make Teppen feel more like a tense action game than a leisurely game of cards. It requires quick thinking, short term and long term planning, and in many cases, fast fingers as you swipe cards into slots and throw out actions with milliseconds to spare before enemy attacks deal damage to your hero.
If you don’t feel like facing other human players (and why would this be the case?!) the game features a story mode that doubles as a tutorial, as well as a mission mode called “chronicle” which provides CPU based challenges of varying difficulty. These battles can be challenging, and are good practice. The story itself is not as easy to praise as other aspects of the game. It is a sort of “what if” tale featuring the various characters’ points of view of a strange, dream-like sequence of events, but it is told in a strangely impersonal fashion, and has familiar faces act out of character, with nonsensical motivations, to bizarre and in many cases puzzling or inconsequential ends.
The artwork and music featured in this mode is, however, excellent.
The final word
So far, I’ve spent a few hours with the game, and have ranked up playing against opponents online. I’m yet to hit a pay-to-win wall, and am wary of such design elements, but so far, I have had nothing but a good time with this game, which is not bad for having spent a grand total of zero bucks.
As a result, I can give my recommendation based on this limited experience, and that is; if not anything else, Teppen is certainly worth a shot. If you’ve ever been a fan of capcom games in the past, give this a go, and see if it revives some of that nostalgia!
I’ll be putting some more time into this, and once I’ve experienced the games’ more advanced levels (and seen how balanced things are once it begins to inevitably demand a cash/time investment split) I’ll be back with an advanced review.
Play this game!