Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards Review

A raw deal for cartoon watchers and card players alike

Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards

With the success of Hearthstone and all of the great card games that followed in its wake, it was only a matter of time until less suitable brands tried to cash in on the digitization of collectible card games. We've seen some seemingly awkward fits that actually worked out (Kung-Fu Panda: Battle of Destiny, for example), and some that seemed to miss the point entirely.

Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards is very much the latter.

What Is It?

Animation Throwdown mixes characters and locations from five different cartoon properties that all appear on (or have appeared on) the Fox TV Network: Family Guy, American Dad, Bob's Burgers, King of the Hill and Futurama.

Players can pick a deck based on each series and battle other decks in an attempt to become the victor. Win, and you'll get goodies like new cards and currency, that you can then use to improve your deck for future matches.

The battles themselves are almost painfully simple. Each card has an attack and health value, and when played, will automatically attack the opposing team each round that it is still active. Sometimes the cards have an extra skill, doing things like reducing damage taken or increasing damage dealt, but these too are just an automatic part of the game. In short, there's very little interaction outside of choosing which card to play.

The only additional element you need to know about – and this seems to be the hook Animation Throwdown pins its hopes on – is that you can play non-character cards on character cards to transform and enhance them. For example, if I have Linda from Bob's Burgers on the table, I can play the Alcohol card on her to transform her card into "Wine Pouch," increasing the attack and health numbers on the card.

And that's pretty much it. That's the whole game. You can battle other players' decks or focus on the campaign mode, and work towards unlocking cards and discovering new combinations of cards as you go.

How Is It?

The result is a game that lacks any of the complexity or strategy that makes the collectible card genre great. It's been simplified to the point of tedium here; a game designed with infantile accessibility in mind, but with jokes aimed at an age group far beyond what the gameplay would suggest. It's a mixed bag of boredom and mild adult humor.

There's nothing terribly exciting about any of this, and the humor largely just falls flat.

They've largely gone the lazy route for card design as well, pulling still images from episodes for the card art rather than creating something fresh and original. Touches like this just reek of laziness – not to mention that numerous card combinations can lead to creating the exact same "transformed" card.

Discovering these combinations isn't just done through trial-and-error, either. Adding a layer of monetization to the game (beyond the ability to buy card packs, which is the genre standard), players will have to "research" different combinations which can take hours to do – or be sped up by spending premium currency.

Also, by randomly pulling for a stock of pre-written lines for "smack talk," there's a surprising risk of seriously uncomfortable moments – like when Bob Belcher's boy-crazy daughter Tina tells the opponent she wants to date him, but the opponent is Bob. Mistakes like this just feel so incredibly lazy; as if they could have identified and rectified these problems with just the smallest amount of playtesting had they bothered.

Should I play It Anyway?

While I hate to be negative – especially about some animated series that I absolutely adore – I'd have a hard time recommending this game to anyone. Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards is the modern mobile equivalent of putting a licensed character on a candy bar. There's nothing of substance to the gameplay, the use of the licenses is underwhelming – everything about Animation Throwdown feels like a disappointment.

There are great characters here, and as heroes in a proper CCG game, this could have turned into something truly special. Instead, Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards has become the very definition of a missed opportunity. Something that was watered down to appeal to everyone, and as a result, appeals to no one.

Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards is available now as a free download from the App Store. The game is also available for Android gamers on Google Play.