REVIEW: ‘Cobra Kai: Card Fighter,’ – An Interesting Premise, With A Shaky Structure (iOS)

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Cobra Kai Card Fighter

Cobra Kai: Card Fighter is a digital collectible card game developed and published by Boss Team Games LLC. Based on the popular show Cobra Kai, players participate in martial arts matches as they take various characters’ roles from the show. But here, the moves performed are designated by the cards in a player’s hand. Each round, players will select three cards to play in a particular order. With a rock-paper-scissors style method for determining which attack beats which, players must wait for each pairing of card reveals to see who will score a potential hit. Along with some support cards that allow players to heal or restore energy to allow for the playing of more expensive cards, the game’s core mechanics are simple and offer some unique fun. Sadly it’s everything else in the game that ruins this day at the dojo.

As previously mentioned, the game’s basic mechanic allows for simple, fun gameplay, with a moderate amount of chance involved. With combat broken into punches, kicks, and grabs. Just like rock-paper-scissors, punches beat grabs, grabs beat kicks, and kicks beat punches. Simple.  The big problem with enjoying this gameplay comes with the way characters improve both their fighters and their decks. First, let’s look at the fighters.

By the time the player completes the game’s introduction, they will have two different fighters for each of the dojos. Each character begins with a deck of 30 cards and 20 health. As characters are used in matches, they gain experience for levels. Though the amount of experience they gain depends greatly on whether they win or lose. While having a gap in experience gain based on performance is normal, characters gain so little for a loss that they will have an extremely long and unfun grind to reach higher levels unless they are managing to win games. And characters desperately need higher levels.

The biggest bonus Cobra Kai: Card Fighter grants characters when they level up is a health bonus. Starting with more health than an opponent means your opponent is already losing at the match’s start. Couple this bonus with the existence of cards that can heal, and the advantage can quickly become insurmountable. This was all too frequently the experience I had while trying to get my characters leveled up.

Whether the culprit is sub-par matchmaking or a lack of players online, I cannot say, but more often than not, my opponents started matches anywhere from 10 to 30 hit points up on me. I often felt like the match had already been decided before I even played a card.

Further elongating the grind to improve characters is Cobra Kai: Card Fighter’s bizarre choice to give characters who lose fights a recovery period. For 10 minutes following a loss, a character becomes unavailable for replay. Well, unless you’d like to spend some currency to heal them quickly. This disincentive to dive into the game for multiple matches in a row kills what little momentum a player may carry out of a horribly one-sided match.

The other struggle with progression is the leveling up of cards. Through activities like training or the purchase of boosters(with in-game currency or real money), players acquire new cards or duplicates of old cards. Once a player has enough duplicates of a card, they can improve the card. As one might suspect at this point, it takes a lot of duplicates to level up a card. Putting a new player at a further disadvantage to anyone who has been playing, or spending, for a while.

The game’s UI also throws up some barriers to enjoying the game. The biggest offender here is with the energy gauge during matches.

The majority of cards in Cobra Kai: Card Fighter have an energy cost. By default, each player regenerates five energy at the start of each round. Players can either play special energy cards or simply opt to play fewer cards to start their next round with more energy. This allows the utilization of more powerful cards. Unfortunately, the energy gauge at the top of the screen doesn’t tell you how much energy you have. It fills and drains with use, but there is no numerical representation next to it to tell you exactly how much is there. The only way I knew for certain if I had enough energy to play a card was when I tapped it, and the game either did or didn’t let me play it. There isn’t even an indicator at the full point, so you at least know what the max is and can then guesstimate. You just kind of have to get used to it.

Lastly, I want to talk about Cobra Kai: Card Fighter’s graphics. While the graphics aren’t going to wow anyone, they land solidly in the “fine for a mobile game” category. As the cards during each match are revealed, the opposing characters on screen will throw some kicks and punches, with whoever won the round managing to score a hit in the end. I found these little sequences a nice touch to the game’s presentation. With each sequence ending with the actual move performed instead of a generic animation for punch, kick, or grab, it held just enough variety not to grow stale.

When all is said and done, Cobra Kai: Card Fighter delivers what could’ve been a fun karate-themed diversion, but instead it bogs it down with tedious grinding gameplay that serves no purpose but to deprive the player of what simple enjoyment the games basic mechanics might have offered.

Cobra Kai: Card Fighter is out now for Android and the Apple App Store.

 

Cobra Kai: Card Fighter
  • 4/10
    Rating - 4/10
4/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Cobra Kai: Card Fighter delivers what could’ve been a fun karate-themed diversion, but instead it bogs it down with tedious grinding gameplay that serves no purpose but to deprive the player of what simple enjoyment the games basic mechanics might have offered.