Quick Look: Pretty Princess Pomelo
Designers: Nicholas Egalon, Morgan Parker, Alex Young
Publisher: Team Pomelo Games
Year Published: Currently on Kickstarter (As of the 18th of August 2021)
A Fated Beginning
With me being the only male in my family among my wife and children, it was inevitable that I would one day find myself in the position of being surrounded by “girly” things—almost from the start of my marriage.
I suppose I could have been upset by this, but the truth is, I have learned to embrace the years evolving from Strawberry Shortcake and the likes into other more “fruitful” forms.
For as the children have aged, so have their tastes. Superheroes are all the rage these days, so one might need more sophisticated shows and books to fuel their imagination as they grow.
So popular shows like Sailor Moon call to many young girls (and grown up ones, like my wife!), and consequently it should come as no surprise that there is a huge market for designs that follow in the footsteps of this type of Japanese-inspired manga/anime theme.
With that being said, Team Pomelo Games has jumped into the fray, seeking to fill a gap and void in the western gaming market and infusing it with an anime-inspired card game of epic girly proportions featuring a Kickstarter campaign for Pretty Princess Pomelo!
And it is easy to see where this game draws its inspiration from, it practically has “Sailor Moon” written all over it and manages to convey everything that makes the series famous that one could possibly hope for short of blatantly and directly copying the IP itself!
Pretty Princess Pomelo (PPP) is best described as a “Magical Girl Combat Card Game”—as denoted by the pretty pink white box that the game comes in—and, is a tidy size that can easily be taken to any get-together.
The container is roughly half-full with cards (leaving room for planned expansions according to Team Pomelo Games) and contains a small rule book that can certainly be praised for its brevity—though a few rules could use a little more clarification (see later), but overall, if being concise and to-the-point was a design goal, I would say they have succeeded.
The game cards are split into three color-coded types :
The Pink deck contains the game’s characters, which can be either villains, heroes or in rare instances “wild card” personalities whose alignment can shift between good and bad in a heartbeat!
Story Cards — these contain “Plot” elements or “Gear” items that can be equipped.
Power Cards — Give you magic and let you infuse attacks to do greater damage or negate damage, among other things.
The game starts by shuffling each respective deck, which will also have it’s own discard pile as cards are used.
Each player will be dealt 1 character card, 2 story cards, and 3 power cards. The player who has most recently watched a magical girl show goes first.
The gameplay is relatively simple, and each player’s actions can consist of the following before passing a turn over to the next player.
—Draw 2 cards from any combination of decks (Skip other actions to instead draw 3)
—Play just 1 character card by laying it in front of you
—Use as many Story and Power cards as you chose
—Activate Character Special abilities (limited to once per turn per character)
—Attack another character from another player , or even one of your own (situationally, yes, this may be called for!)
—Discard down to 10 cards to end your turn.
The object of the game is to be the first person to have a Full Team of all-heroes or all-villains that simultaneously controls the all-powerful Citrine Hearts card. The number of heroes or villains required depends on player count (5-character teams for 2 players, 4-characters for 3 player games, and 3 characters for 4 player games, respectively).
As you play the game, you will eventually start to lay out more and more characters in front of you, but you may not have more in play than the number required to win the game.
You also cannot have a mixed party of villains and heroes to win, though you can temporarily have members of the opposing alignment on your team if it helps you. Just be aware that you may have to vanquish and eliminate them from your own roster in order to achieve victory!
If the traditionally male-centric Dragonball franchise can be most readily associated with Saiyans named after vegetables, Pretty Princess Pomelo would consist of their Fruity counterparts, hosting a variety of characters with names such as “Orange”, “Tangerine” and “Princess Lime”—clearly, they will have no problem at all fitting in with the manga/anime world!
All Characters have a unique ability that can be used circumstantially. Some characters for example will allow you to play another character on your turn (ordinarily, you can do this just once per turn), while others can infuse themselves with the power of Light to gain a bonus to their HP (Heart Power / Hit points ) and SP (Star Power) which represent their damage-dealing capacity).
Each character also has a base amount of HP and SP. If you attack another character on your turn, you simply need to find a way to get your SP over the HP of the character you are attacking to defeat them.
In order to facilitate this, you can do a number of things to give yourself a boost :
—Use a story card or power card
—Use a special character ability
—Equip an item for a “permanent” boost before attacking.
Whoever defeats the first opponent in battle will acquire and equip the Citrine Hearts that is essential to winning the game. Be careful if you have this item, as you can rest assured, you will instantly become everyone’s prime target!
Each character can equip just one “Gear” type of item, though there may be other things they can equip in addition to this, including Elemental Infusions and the all-powerful Citrine Hearts that is required to win the game. Equipped items can bolster HP, allow for Multi-attacks and powerful combined character attacks and more.
Other notable things that can happen in the game are very true to the anime/manga-inspired sources this game is based on :
Plot Twists : forces characters to change moral alignment, perhaps allowing you to claim victory or even prevent it for an opposing team since victory requires a uniform moral alignment of your party’s characters. Or steal away an enemy player (along with all of their equipment) to your side with the right cards!
Transformations! Turn your character into a raging Blood Orange, or other such beast to vanquish your foes!
Normally, you can only use cards on your own turn, but you may find a handful of cards that can be used “ANYTIME”. Save these cards for when you need them most, as careful of timing of when you use these can mean the difference between victory and defeat!
Play continues until the victory conditions have been met—having a full all-Villain/Hero team while possessing the Citrine Hearts card.
Now for our final thoughts on this game that is coming to Kickstarter :
Please note that this is a prototype, and as such, potentially subject to change, so please bear this in mind as I summarize my group’s thoughts.
We were all very surprised how well the theme of a particular sailor-themed series managed to shine through in this game. From the artwork to the Plot Twists and Power Cards that manage to fully encapsulate everything that can happen in an episode of just about any type of anime you are fond of, Pretty Princess Pomelo definitely caught us off-guard with how well it managed to integrate the “soul” of Japanime into a card game, especially one that is so simple in mechanical design.
And yes, this means that PPP contains all of the sometimes “cheesy” stereotypical tropes of the genre, but regardless of whether you love them or hate them, this has come to define the genre and is essentially what people have come to expect of it.
Team Pomelo Games successfully managed to recreate the spirit of what this “girly” franchise has come to represent and epitomize, so if this is your type of thing, you can rest assured that they have created as genuine of a “clone” as they possible can without infringing on certain IP’s! The girls in our family were immediately drawn to the art style, and are always wanting to look at it, if that tells you anything!
Now the negatives?
—This game is not for the faint-of-heart or those who like to avoid competition. You will be required to “kill” or eviscerate your opponents, and this aspect can be brutal.
—In addition, there are some ambiguities to the rules in a few instances, as alluded to earlier.
This comes in some weird (though not necessarily uncommon) instances where it was uncertain as to whether or not some attacks or abilities would work or not due to the moral alignment of a particular character (one character in particular is a Wild Card, and can be both hero and villain simultaneously when it comes to filling your character roster), and at least one card had wording that was confusing to us.
Team Pomelo Games informed us that there is a FAQ available on the website that will hopefully clear up any confusion in the future, but as of yet our questions were not listed there, so hopefully they will take our questions under advisement and update the FAQ, and also mention the FAQ link in their printed manual, because some of us were about ready to come to Sparkly Fruit-fisted blows with each other over our interpretations of how we thought the rules should work!
—We do feel that the card stock could be a little better. While not the worst I have seen, it is a bit more easily pliable than I would like to see, especially if they game gets a lot of use. Perhaps a stretch goal can bolster the card strength/thickness?
—Clones of characters. While their artwork was fantastic, we wished that there weren’t multiple copies of each character within this particular deck. This would have been a huge undertaking from a rules/balance and cost/practicality standpoint, but nevertheless, we would have liked to see more characters from this world since they were done so well.
Final Thoughts :
In summary, this is a very fast-paced action-oriented game that I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of Japanimation and Manga. We loved the game, and would play it again, and it is sure to be a hit whenever the kids have company.
Please note that I received a promotional copy of this game in exchange for a fair assessment of my impressions. The opinions expressed here are exclusively my own.
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Jazz Paladin- Reviewer