It’s been a long time since I talked about the PS2, mainly because it hasn’t gotten a whole bunch of use. I got a few games for it a while back, like Destroy All Humans and Shadow of the Colossus, but I didn’t get that far into either of them. (The latter, especially. After sitting through about a three hour long cutscene I finally got to fight my first Colossus and sucked mightily at it. There must be more to it, but what I played just wasn’t much fun at all.)
However, I decided the other day to pop in a game I had played some, but which always got pushed aside for a Ratchet and Clank game or something: Culdcept.
Culdcept is a weird game for the PS2. It’s part boardgame, part card game. The way it works is, you have this path you and your enemy roll-and-move along. When you land on a square, if it’s empty, you can summon a creature (with the cards you draw) to capture it. If it’s occupied by an enemy creature, you have to either pay the toll or summon a creature to battle the enemy. Winning gets you the square, losing makes you have to pay the toll (and possibly kills your creature). If it’s occupied by one of your creature, you can make changes to your territory, such as “leveling up” land (making it more valuable and the toll higher, as well as boosting your creatures), changing the terrain type, or swapping out one creature for a different one.
The terrain comes in four flavors: fire, water, earth, and sand. Which I guess is also air. Most creatures also have a type, and as you can imagine, putting a creature into the right type of land makes it stronger.
The cards are done like a collectable card game. You start with a bunch of cards, and winning fights against other “Cepters” net you more cards. They have various levels of rarity, but they do seem to be well balanced as far as costs and abilities. You assemble a “book” of no more than fifty cards from your collection.
Battles between creatures are a one shot deal. After the creatures are selected, each player can select one card to assist that creature, such as a weapon, armor, or scroll. Some creatures can use other creatures for support. The support cards are revealed, and the attacking creature takes a hit. If the defender survives, it gets a hit. Of course, many creatures have special powers that let them do bonus damage against certain colors, go first even if they’re defending, confuse the enemy, and so on. There’s a wide variety of cards, and just when you think you’ve seen the weirdest of them you get one that features an anthropomorphic ear of corn in overalls.
There’s a plot to go along with all of this that you must pay careful attention to. See, there’s this goddess, Culdra, and she…hell, I don’t know. I’m only about four battles in and I don’t have the foggiest idea what’s happening. I just fight who they tell me to fight. The plot is gravy — the kind of gravy you scrape off your meal and forget about.
I just defeated this dude who was giving me the worst time. You can ask Becky, I was cussing up a storm at this guy. He wants to avenge the death of his sister, who he thinks I killed. Maybe I did, I dunno, I haven’t paid attention to the plot. She was probably asking for it. The talking magic stick I pal around with seems to think I’ve been framed. Anyway, this guy was soundly trouncing me over and over. Finally I went back to a previous battle against the king of thieves, smacked him around a few times to get some new cards, tuned my deck, and returned to finally defeat the kid. I’ll probably kick his ass once more before I move on, just so he knows it wasn’t a fluke. That’s how I roll.
The best thing about Culdcept is that you can get it dirt cheap. Right now you could probably head over to your favorite electronics entertainment store and grab it for $15 or less. If you have an Xbox 360 word on the street is they’re coming out with a version for that console that you can play online. Dan tells me this because he thinks this will suddenly make me buy a 360 and want to play online games. He is so wrong.
Since Japan is even worse than America about making anything remotely successful into a comic book, cartoon, cereal, action figure, or sex aid, you won’t be surprised to know that Culdcept is also a series of Japanese comic books. Since I enjoy the game I flipped through them a few times, but they seem pretty dopey. I must remind you again that you’re not playing this for the captivating plot. You’re playing it because you want that corn guy to kill that pirate with a Flame Tongue. That’s what it’s all about.