Mario Italiano Four Families is a social, casual card battle game that puts you at the head of an Italian mobster family. The game is a quirky and fun take on the mobster life in a cartoonish, comedic way as it sees you battle it out with other families for supremacy of Capitol City. You’ll use cards, vehicles, weapons, ammo, and other accessories to beat your rivals at their own game.
Casual card battle games are nothing new, and by now there are dozens available to play. Mario Italiano focuses more on the social aspect of casual card battle games. It brings in the ability to join other people and form a ‘Mob’ to help you aid in the game’s campaign mode or when taking down a tough crime boss. Well, they are family after all, and that’s one thing the mob always does — takes care of the family!
Does a life of crime pay, or should Mario Italiano Four Families be “taken out“? Read on to find out…
Mario Italiano Four Families has an interesting style of gameplay that had me a little stumped at first. I didn’t quite know what I was doing, despite a long dialogue from a character explaining things. Once I was up and running, I built my Crew and got ready to embark on a life of crime. Time to get my hands bloody…
The cards aren’t quite what you’d expect them to be. Each one has a portrait and a rarity grade, from C up to SS. The higher the grade a card has, the stronger the card will probably be, earning your respect enough to put it into your Crew, hopefully. The artwork is a little crazy at times — shrimps, zombies, werewolves, and humanoid bears are among the interesting set of characters this game will introduce you to. None of the cards appear to have special abilities of their own, but put a Crew together that are from the same family and you’ll earn yourself some nice combat bonuses.
Cards have a lot of statistics, but only a few that really matter when you get down to the battles themselves: Attack, Defense, Dexterity, Health Points, and AP. Each Crew consists of 4 Mobster cards and a Vehicle card. Forming a Crew will add all of their statistics together and display it as the Crew’s overall toughness. This is crucial information when you want to face off against rival crime lords.
Combat is really simple due to being automated. The cards will take it in turns to shoot at the opponent’s cards and vice versa. Once a card’s HP is reduced to 0, it will no longer fight. Reducing all of the opponent’s Mobster cards’ HP to 0 will gain you a victory, and with that comes Dollars (the in-game currency) and other rewards. The only card that doesn’t fight is the Car, which instead increases the overall power of your Crew.
You can change a few things before a fight, such as which Mobster your Crew will target first. You can deliberately take out the highest HP Mobster first if you think that’ll help. You can even change the order in which your Mobsters will attack. Sometimes you’ll have a Mobster with a large Attack value, but low HP. You’ll want to make sure he gets his attack in there, before he’s whacked for good!
The game uses an energy system as the main resource. By progressing through the Missions you’ll consume energy. Like with Battles, you’ll consume the secondary resource of Ammo. Both can be replenished in the Shop, and you can increase these statistics as you level up. You’ll be able to get through the first few levels without having to replenish the energy, as when you level up it will auto replenish to full. However, this won’t last long and you’ll need to spend some of those dollars on energy drinks.
MODES AND FEATURES
Mario Italiano Four Families has a huge number of features. Firstly, there is a rather large campaign through the Missions. The Missions are a collection of locations that are run by a Mob Boss, who you will need to defeat in order to gain control of that location. Once you have obtained control of the location, you can begin to earn cash from it. You can upgrade the locations in order to earn more cash per hour from them.
Each Mission comprises of 4 sub-locations and the final Boss. In order to get to the Boss, you will have to shoot your way through. Each time you shoot up the location, you will progress by 10%. You will also use a set number of energy, but gain that same amount back in EXP. Once a location hits 100%, you move on to the next until you reach the Boss. A Boss fight has a few combat options for you to choose from that will differ in the damage dealt. This is probably the least thrilling part of the game and has the most grind associated to it. Progression feels slow and non-interactive during this mode, and I didn’t enjoy it all that much.
Battle mode is by far the more entertaining mode that you can take part in. This will, like so many other CCGs out there, pit your “deck” against an opponent’s. You can see their rank before you fight so that you can get a rough idea if you may win or not. During combat, each card takes it in turns to shoot one another with the aim to reduce the opposing card to zero health. If you are victorious you will be rewarded with more cash to blow in the shop. Being a mobster should pay, after all — right?
The other modes in Mario Italiano Four Families revolve around upgrading your current Crew, Vehicle, Mob, and a plethora of other upgrades. There are so many ways to upgrade things in this game that if I were to write about them, it would make this review almost 3 times its current length. Let’s just say that I was able to do some of the following: combine mobsters to increase and strengthen them, equip mobsters and cars with items to increase stats, increase my garage size to hold more cars, increase my mansion to have more cards overall, and increase the level of my controlled locations. These are just a few of the upgrades and enhancements on offer and many require only the game’s soft currency, too, which is a real bonus.
There is also a shop — time to spend all this dirty money! In here you can buy card packs that will contain Crew cards or Vehicle cards. You can buy packs that’ll contain both, or just one type of card. The more you spend, the more packs you can get. Sadly, the premium packs can only be bought with the premium currency. There are other items purchasable in the shop, such as accessories for your Crew, but you’d have to play the game to see the vastness that is on offer here.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
Mario Italiano Four Families has a deckbuilder that is just as confusing as a lot of the menus in the game, which is unfortunate. It took me a while to find out how I can change the Crew around. Once I was able to, though, I could select who I wanted out and who I wanted in the Crew. It’s quite simple once you work it out.
Fortunately, you’re able to define the search parameters a little so that you can get to the best possible Crew a lot faster. You can also do this from the Crew screen, where you can arrange the list by their attack order and attack patterns. This feature could be considered the game’s way of offering a little strategy to an otherwise linear gaming experience.
Equipping your Crew is also a big feature within the game, and will increase the overall statistics your Crew has. This is useful because you are able to boost the weaker stats on a card so it will have an increased longevity in battle. Well, that’s what we do right? Take care of the family!
Mario Italiano Four Families tries hard to be a fun and interesting game. I feel the developers threw too much into the mix and ended up with a slightly confusing experience. Once I was able to figure out the game’s various modes, however, I did rather enjoy the gameplay a bit. It was simple and entertaining most of the time, with little need for input from myself, but that may also be its drawback for those looking for a more challenging and strategic style of gameplay.
The game reminds me of those old Facebook games that had you and your friends in the same mobster crew. The idea behind this game is to bring a little of that back, and that can’t be a bad thing. All too often games have you work alone with the best multiplayer experience being one that pits you directly against one other person. Some may employ a guild system, but most guild members hardly interact with each other. Mario Italiano Four Families encourages the players to help one another and join forces. There are even rewards to be had from working together in this manner, so it’s a truly social game in that respect.
However, one thing I must note are the graphics and slight glitches that the game suffers from occasionally. The screen seems to be slightly off on iPad. I was unable to see the very top of the user interface. I’m not sure if this was a problem due to my iPad being a newer model, or if it’s designed for iPhone mainly and didn’t scale well to the iPad screen. I also had a recurring issue where after a while I would only see plain white boxes when obtaining new cards. A little bit frustrating when you consider that I needed to take screenshots for you guys!
I’m not keen on the overall experience I had whilst playing Mario Italiano Four Families. There was too much to do that I often felt overwhelmed with what I should be doing. There are too many modes and features to contend with, and it all looks a little messy with its garish graphic style. In short, I am glad I played Mario Italiano Four Families, but wish that the game could have been a little neater and prettier, visually speaking. Maybe you’ll love it though, so give it a try if the theme appeals to you.
For more screenshots, click here.
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