What is Culdecept?

With the upcoming 3DS release of the cult classic game Culdcept, Nintendo has launched an ad campaign that has created an inadvertent sex symbol. In their ads, a stylish business woman explains to newcomers about how to play Culdcept. She’s become something of a cult phenomenon with people drawing sexy fanart of her and wondering who she is.

Meanwhile, thanks to the piss-poor reporting of Kotaku, America asks: What is Culdcept? What is this legendary Japanese card-based strategy game all of Japan is drooling over and why can’t I play it in America?

Well the answer would be because the games never sell well here.

Yes, that’s right, Culdcept actually was released in America. Twice! Once on PS2 with a port of the original, and later on 360 with the more recent Culdcept Saga.

They even released the manga here, despite it being based more on the second game and making tons of references to the Dreamcast release (and it’s awesome online play).

So, what is Culdecept? Well the story involves people called “Cepters” using magic cards that can change the world.

In terms of gameplay? It’s Monopoly with Magic cards.

That may sound lame to some, but when you think about it, it’s awesome as it adds a huge amount of depth and strategy to the game. You see, instead of building houses, you put monsters on your squares to defend them. Different squares have different elemental affinities, monsters can affect other monsters, and tons of other little nuances. When you land on a square with a monster, you have to pick a monster of your own to fight it and can equip it with weapons and stuff. The game also features different boards and obviously there’s the whole card collecting, trading, and deck building aspects. It’s definitely an interesting take on the game of Monopoly. Though, like Monopoly, the game takes a good long while to play so brace yourself.

The game can be traced back to the SEGA Saturn with a sequel on Dreamcast that featured online play. What we received in America was a port of the first game on PS2. This port was pretty heavily bashed in Japan since not only had Culdcept Second had been out for years, but the PS2 port lacked the online play of the Dreamcast game. However in America, where we had no Culdcepts at all at the time, this was much less of a noticeable issue. Culdcept Saga, on the other hand, was a different story. Released early on for the XBox 360, the game was actually the most recent rendition of Culdcept (essentially making it the third one) and had a heavy focus on it’s single player Story campaign which was fully voice acted. It also featured online multiplayer (though good luck finding anyone to play with) as well as the ability to make custom characters…though you had to unlock most of the options by beating the game 4 or 5 times to see all the endings. The game, however, was poorly recieved in America as it’s graphics were heavily dated and it has a very very niche appeal.

For the record, story has never been a big part of the games and while they all feature the same concept, all their stories are technically different and unrelated. As such, don’t worry about which one you start with.

If you’re interested in giving the games a spin, they’re not expensive. GameStop currently lists the PS2 game at $7 and the 360 one at $13. While new ones are expensive on EBay, used ones don’t go for more than $25.

And if that didn’t pique your interest, let me introduce you to Corn Folk:

Yes, this is a real monster in the game. You’re welcome.

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