Fantasica, An In-Depth Review

6.6 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 6/10
Sounds: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10

Unique blend of card collecting and tower defense. | Nice manga art style.

Doesn't feel challenging enough at times.

Android, iOS, Windows Phone.

Free to play, with in-game purchases.

July 11,2012

English

Fantasica is a fantasy online tower defense game that mixes traditional tower defense game play with collection of trading cards. Heroes collected in card form are summoned onto the battlefield to destroy waves of Monsters and stop their advance. Cards collect experience through use and become more stronger over time growing your collection of Heroes power.

So does Fantasica manage to deliver a solid tower defense game mixed with a TCG experience? Read on to find out…

combat3

A typical Quest combat screen, showing a simple path which enemies follow while your units attack them from the sides of the path.

Gameplay

Fantasica‘s game play is that of the traditional tower defense game with a twist. The towers you place to fire away at oncoming hordes of mythical beasts such as goblins, wolves, killer bees and trolls are collectible Heroes that are divided into three sub categories.

Melee Heroes are hard hitting and speedy in their assaults but suffer from the inability to hit flying Monsters. Ranged Heroes fire incredibly quickly, have a winder range of attack and can hit what melee units cannot, but they often fall short when it comes down to the damage department. Thirdly, Magic Heroes such as Witches and Warlocks hit hard and heavy, and can target both flying and walking Monsters but suffer from poor range and an attack speed that would make a turtle seem speedy.

When battles begin you place your Heroes around the path that your foes will walk along, however you cannot place all your towers at once as each Hero has a class point cost to place them as well as the Hero limit. Class points are quickly accumulated over time though, and setting up a functioning defense is usually quick to achieve.

You can also call in allies to help you. Allies are other players who offer one of their best Heroes to help you for no cost, however, like your normal Heroes, there is a limit to the number you can summon per battle.

placement-of-units

The choice you make as a player is to place units onto the white squares, making sure their range of attack will reach the maximum amount of space along the enemy pathway as possible.

There are no “waves” in Fantasica, with each battle being a single quick wave that is over almost before it begun. This suits the style of mobile and tablet gaming that is often played in short bursts, but I feel gameplay suffers because of it. There is no feeling of satisfaction from felling huge hordes of enemies like in other games of similar genre as the enemies come too slowly and in single-file which means your first couple of units defeat nearly everything immediately.

Battles however are very well presented with both Heroes and Monsters having unique sprites and while their animation may be lacking the style and overall look of the art is appealing and fitting for the setting. It’s nice to be able to see your units attack with animations.

large-card-art

Fantasica boasts card art by the Final Fantasy art director, Hideo Minaba which is sure to be a draw for many fans of the series.

Modes and Features

There are a few modes and features in Fantasica, with the main one being Quests. Quests are simple episodic missions that take you to a battle of a string of approaching enemies. You must complete all the previous battles in a chapter before you can fight a chapter boss. Bosses are a bit underwhelming, with no change in enemy AI and basically just being another standard enemy with a different sprite and more health. Once the boss is vanquished you may move onto the next chapter.

Another mode is the training mode in which you can level up a certain Hero by having them go on an adventure on their own, encountering foes and treasures along the way on a set path. Each encounter you have drains your training points until you can go no further, however training points reset each day.

One of the treasures that can be found on training runs are Monster cards. Monster cards act as Monsters for when another player chooses to battle you. When this happens your Monster cards act as the Monsters that are pitted against the opposing player’s Heroes. I like this aspect of the game, as it means you have to think about defense when being attacked as well and it’s quirky to be able to use your own Monsters against other players, but you don’t really do anything other than have them there to defend for you.

quests

Quests are fast and simple enough that you can finish a whole bunch of them in a couple of minutes max.

You can also become allies with other players, allowing you to use their Heroes in battle and trade cards with them. Unfortunately trading is a tricky affair, as there is no real-time chat and so making offers for certain cards are made as requests that can be accepted or denied, making any discussion or bartering difficult.

The shop is the way to acquire new, more powerful, Heroes. Heroes can be bought for real money “Fanta points” (I can almost feel the lawsuit coming on) or, if you are willing to navigate through another tab and scroll down the page away from the numerous bundles and packs purchasable with Fanta points, you can use Brave points which are acquired by playing each day. This is the free-to-play aspect of the game and it lets you summon new Heroes each day.

New cards are satisfying to open and every card has a great looking manga-esque illustration which takes up the whole card as information such as speed, range and damage are presented on the back. As well as statistical information each card, Hero and monster, has a small description. While uninspired and generic these descriptions are a nice touch and add a bit of character to the Heroes you will be using.

shop

The game does try and push you into purchasing premium items a lot, but if you ignore this you can get a free-to-play experience out of the game.

Deckbuilding and Strategy

Here lies what I feel is Fantasica‘s biggest letdown. Strategy is practically nonexistent, even though it should be there because of the different types of attacks your units can do. There seems to be no reason not to use your most powerful units over and over again in each battle, and as you cannot see what Monsters you will be up against there is no point in making careful balance of types of units to play.

As long as you have either several Magic and Ranged units to take out flying Monsters, there is little way to lose a battle. The only strategic choice I could see myself making was placing units on 90 degree angles to cover more of their range and even then battles can often have only a single straight path. In fact, the most map variation I saw was a single turn or a slightly wider path.

There is also no strategy with use of your Monster cards as when another player chooses to battle your best cards are automatically selected to do battle with no player input at all making Monster cards practically for collection purposes only.

With no actual tactical decision making, Fantasica seems like it makes the gameplay elements secondary to the card collection aspect. Placing units and watching the Monsters fall before getting rewards and experience points that make the Monsters and Heroes bigger and stronger seems to be all that the game offers by way of gameplay.

enhance-card2

There is the typical “enhance” feature of many mobile TCGs which sees your cards getting stronger by sacrificing other cards to it. All this does is accelerate the XP it would have got through Quests anyway.

Final Thoughts

Fantasica is a game that is difficult to evaluate as it game. It feels like the potential was there in the idea but we’ve yet to see it fully realized. While the art and characters are very good looking and the little description of the characters add some character to what you’re doing, the lack of any deep strategy just makes the game feel very casual. That’s okay if it’s aimed for a more casual market, with which the short length of the Quests makes me think that it probably is.

Easy changes like more varied level design with winding and changing size paths; more varied enemy types with different abilities that need to be countered; giving abilities such as slowdown to Heroes to change what choices you make when choosing Heroes and adding some kind of wave system so that you must change your strategy on the fly are just some of the ways that greater choices could be given to the player and make for a more engaging experience.

If you’re looking for a game that is simple and easy, with actual gameplay taking more of a back seat to the TCG art collection and evolution aspects, Fantasica does a good job at this, but if you’re looking for a strategy game experience that is challenging then you may find it a bit lacking.

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by

Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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