Playing games anywhere you are has become important to many people. In this particular case, it may be a card game that you play with your friends. Shadowverse is a hugely popular collectible card game worldwide, with a healthy community of over 22 million players and over 400 cards.
Back in Spring of 2020, an anime series named Shadowverse aired on television in Japan, it’s goal was to introduce the game to a wider audience. You were introduced to Ryugasaki Hiro, a 2nd year student at Tensei Academy, who finds a mysterious smartphone with the mobile game, Shadowverse, already preinstalled.
Along the nearly 50 episode journey, he makes friends and defeats some rivals, and even competes in major tournaments. Building card decks, exploring locations seen in the anime, and battling your way to win the national tournament; you will learn a lot on your way to becoming a master at the game of Shadowverse.
This is a review coupled with a supplemental abridged video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the game below.
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle
Publisher: XSEED Games / Marvelous
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: August 10, 2021
Price: $49.99 USD
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle features your character traveling from the countryside to go to Tensei Academy, a school where Shadowverse is the most popular game amongst the students. Upon arrival, you meet Ryugasaki Hiro, a second year student who loves Shadowverse immensely. After hearing rumors of a Shadowverse Club, You and your new friends set out to find the club shrouded in mystery.
Upon meeting the club president, you find that the club is in danger of being disbanded due to lack of members and results. After bargaining with the student council president Kirisame Kagura, she decides to give you an opportunity to prove the club’s worth. Gather enough members to stay a club and win the national championship to show that results are being produced.
The story is very akin to something you’ve seen in series like Cardfight Vanguard or Gundam Build Divers, where they are spin-offs outside of the main overarching theme of the main story counterparts. It’s a basic “I wanna be the best” kind of story, with friends that help you along the way. Nothing too deep to write home about, but something to keep you engaged.
During some segments where you make a choice based on the conversation, they ultimately don’t really matter since the game continues based off of one single choice regardless. The illusion of choice, no matter which choice you make, means there will always be the chance to go back and do it again since the story won’t advance otherwise.
Gameplay is the exact same as playing Shadowverse on your mobile device or your PC. Since you’re on the Nintendo Switch console, you can use touch controls to play cards.
The other portion of the game is roaming around the corridors of Tensei Academy and the specific areas of the city to find Data Boxes, which can contain a few different items such as Rupies, a currency used to use at a Shadowvender machine, and card packs.
Losing gives you the opportunity to do a rematch. You can also complete Quests given to you by other NPCs who can reward you with gifts like Rupies and cards. Quests can be anything from fetch missions, multiple choice questions, and even battles.
Winning against an opponent for the first time gives Deck Codes; pre-made decks with an assortment of cards for that specific class ranging from Bloodcraft, Dragoncraft, Forestcraft, Havencraft, Portalcraft, Shadowcraft, and Swordcraft.
Music is placed depending on the situation well. When battling, depending on the class you’re going against, it will feature that deck’s theme. When in the dormitory, folksy, happy tones will play, so on and so forth.
The music featured in-game is taken from the anime series, which is currently in Japan only. Sound effects are standard, from footsteps in the halls to menu selection sounds, they are high quality with no exception.
Voice acting is huge part of the game featuring the first time these characters are dubbed in English. Some voices do have a jarring effect when you hear Southern and Valley Girl accents.
Ultimately, it’s great anime quality dubbing and performance for the characters. Voice acting isn’t limited either, cards featured in the game are fully voiced over cards from the base game of Shadowverse as well, which brings some immersiveness and liveliness to the game instead of silence.
One of the biggest flaws in this game is the graphics. It features very weird, stiff animations when characters are performing actions or emotions. There are occasional frame drops that are present in the game, usually when the game is loading the game area or when loading in NPCs around the school, town, or stadium.
The frame rate for the game throughout targets 30FPS; but again, with some issues with optimization, it drops below that to something around 15 to 20FPS.
Anti-aliasing seems removed, which leaves a lot of jagged edges noticeable on character models and other in-world settings. The worst part of the game is the NPC pop-in that occurs, most likely due to limited resources to allocate to the population of the school setting you find yourself in most of the game.
Most scenes in the game playout in a visual novel style with 3D character models in the background in addition to the 2D sprites with text boxes. During battle however, when evolving a card or finishing an opponent, special animations play with your character adding great presentation to the game.
Animated cutscenes are sprinkled in the game as an added extra. They add a spice into the game that helps tie into the anime series fairly seamlessly, and helps you get accustomed to the game whether you’ve seen the series beforehand or not.
Any game that has anime cutscenes in them wins my heart over pretty easily. The downside to the cutscenes themselves are that they are DVD quality, so somewhere in the realm of 480p to 720p in terms of resolution. However, the animation quality still manages to hold up very well.
Shadowverse has nothing to prove when it comes to collectible card games. It’s one of the most noticeable names in CCGs (Card Collection Games), next to Hearthstone, MTG, and Yu-Gi-Oh! It’s biggest strength is making a fun card game accessible to everyone, which it’s managed to accomplish.
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle has a hefty price tag of $49.99 USD, but I find it normal since it is a complete game. A game like Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist was $20 but incomplete until Link Evolution was released.
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle has an identity and an audience of its own, but always looks to attract more people. The definite upsides are a card game with DVD-quality anime cutscenes, unforgettable characters, and a nice story to complete the package. The downsides are some jarring animations with NPCs, and graphical pop-in keep this from being something more than a great game.
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review code provided by XSEED Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.