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「Mobage」Monogatari Series: Puc-Puc!

The first ever mobile game for Monogatari series is finally out on the market! It has been delayed for months on end, and this sudden release has left fans of the Monogatari series with high hopes. Have the developers really delivered a product that's well worth the year long wait? Is this the game for you?
     
Well, Puc-Puc is a puzzle game that follows the gameplay of Disney Tsum Tsum, and LoveLive's Puchiguru. The good thing about this game is that lags do not typically happen on my device (Samsung Note 4 and Note 8) when I play this game. However, the loading time when you start up the game takes a little while.

The gameplay itself is quite simple. Basically, you link up the puc of the same character across the entire map and these chains would add up to your score. Each match is 50 seconds long and consists of five randomly chosen characters. You can buy power-ups for each stage (such as increased score, five second time increment, decrease types of puc by one) using either coins or diamonds.

Gauges
In each round, you have four gauges to fill (or five, if you use another player's character as an assist). Whenever you link up pucs of your cards (① and ⑤), you will fill their gauges. For instance, if you use Sodachi as your main card (①), only linking and exploding Sodachi's puc will increase her gauge. No other puc will increase her gauge.

Furthermore, when the gauges fill, you can use the skill tied to the card. 
Each card has its own skill so be sure to choose one that you can use efficiently. 

Gauges ④ are filled with any puc. The gauge for ② and ③ are for the ema which also comes with skills. These ema also have different rarities, ranging from 1-star to 5-star). And last but not the least, ④ is the fever gauge. Not only will your match be extended by five seconds every fever you get, the distance which you can link pucs will also be increased during fever time.

Gacha
Being a game with microtransactions, it is obvious that it will come with gacha. There are two types of things you can gacha for, which includes the cards ① and the ema ②. 

You can get red tickets through the normal matches and use them to gacha for cards.
One red ticket is given when you clear all stages in a chapter (excluding secret levels) and when you get three stars for all levels in a chapter (including secret levels). Red tickets can also be given through log in bonuses, or every 10-scout for ema. Otherwise, if you are not against spending, you get one try for 120 paid gems daily.

     
On the other hand, ema is obtainable through normal gameplay. Each time you get three-stars on a level with an image, you will get the image as an emaYou can also get it as drops after clearing a stage. These ema are around 1-star to 3-stars.
     
For 4-stars and 5-stars ema, you will have to gacha (75,000 coins for 5-pull or 750 diamonds for 10-pull)
     
Some of these 4-stars and 5-stars ema will be useful when clearing stages as they may give 20% or 50% star boost on chapters that feature the character. These boosts are really useful as you can now play a stage less times to clear the three-stars and get the featured ema and red ticket reward!

Grindiness
This game is rather grindy, especially if you intend to use your LP  to maximum efficiency. LP is shown as a pink-glazed donut at the top of your screen and you use one each time you play a match. However, each donut recovers within 10 minutes, and you are also able to exchange up to six donuts from the exchange-shop every 12 hours.

The journey to getting all the stars in a chapter is also a very long one, especially in later chapters. 
You can get easier missions where you need to activate your card's skill 35 times, or get fever 50 times, or burst 12,000 pucs. You can also get more challenging missions like linking size 15 pucs up to 375 times (and already 155 times for the second star!), or linking size 20 pucs up to 185 times. While these number are daunting, rest assured that these can all accumulate, and as long as you pass a stage, the fraction of stars that you gain from that match would be added to the pool.

Another aspect of the grind would be to level, bond and maximize everything. There are three aspects to level for a card. 
Firstly, the rank (①) . You get 20 fragments per duplicate copy, and several from clearing missions. These fragments are generally card-specific, except for the initial set (i.e. both Tsubasa initial cards use the same fragment, but Tsubasa from the first event uses a different one). 
These fragments help to rank the card up and increase the level cap. For instance, at Rank 1, your level cap is stuck at Level 40. Increasing to Rank 2 allows you to level your puc past Level 40. 
At Ranks 3 and 6, you will also unlock more slots for tools that you can equip the cards with. 

Secondly, the level (②). With each level, the score of the puc increases, hence the higher the level, the higher the score given when forming a chain with that puc. 
Leveling happens either with playing or with using candy. There are three different kinds of candy (S, M, L) and the disparity in EXP they give is huge, and this disparity is a point I do not like as it is difficult to reach middle-ground without overflowing EXP. This overflow happens because there you have to unlock your card with coins every 5 levels.
For instance, despite having a rank 1 card with a level cap of 40, you will have to unlock the level cap at Levels 5, 10, 15, etc, until you reach Level 40, where they would tell you that you can't increase it further without reaching Rank 2 first.

Thirdly, the bond (③). Every 100 bond, you get a free donut from clearing the mission. At specific intervals you get to unlock new voices and other miscellaneous stuff too. 
     
Finding the character on your homescreen and tapping them would give 2-3 bond points each time. 
Do note that this isn't a very important aspect to grind for, but it would be good to have if you like the character.

Story
I left this section for the last as there is not really any new addition to the art/art-style or story in this game.
In Puc-Puc, the story follows what has been depicted in the anime and novels, where you unlock stories as you play and clear missions. The stories are definitely not as long and detailed as in the anime and novels, which suggests that the player would have to have some knowledge of the franchise before getting into the game. It could also be an introduction to the series, if you want to know more about Monogatari series, but unsure if you would appreciate the intricacies of the anime and novel.

Most of the female characters depicted in the main part of the series have their own chapters and cards. This includes, Hitagi, Tsubasa, Shinobu, Mayoi, Nadeko, Tsukihi, Karen, Sodachi and Yotsugi. Ougi, Araragi and Meme are also usable characters. There are no information on whether other characters such as Heart under blade, Gaen, Kaiki, etc. would be added into the game as well.

Enjoyment
I gave this game a try because I am into the Monogatari series and any chance to get more Araragi, Hitagi and Tsubasa things is good for me. That being said, I am not a fan of this type of puzzle gameplay and I do not think that it really suits Monogatari series. But despite this, I am still playing the game. Something that I really love and look forward to, is getting more characters, both male and female. I love how they decided to add Meme into the game as well, and I am definitely impatiently waiting to get more pucs and cards with different hairstyles.

I love how the ema depicts different scenes in the anime and is generally a really good alternative of an artbook to look back to, to remember what Monogatari series has brought to my life and to reminisce all the fun times when I was watching the series.

And last but not the least, if you are intending to try this game out... join now so you don't miss out on the pre-register bonus featuring Hitagi and Shinobu!

Gameplay suitability to the series 
Grindiness ☆ (can be very grindy to rank well)
Art ★★★☆ (same as the original)
Story ☆ (due to the repeated stories already in the series)
Worth-it for microtransactions 

Overall ★★

~ Reina-rin

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