Yomi, brought to the iPad by Sirlin Games, is a digital version of a physical card game that attempts to mimic the psychological aspects of fighting games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Yomi not only attempts this, but it succeeds in spades. Spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs, to be exact.
Yomi isn’t poker or any other “traditional” type of card game, but it does use the standard suits, numbers, face cards, and even jokers of such games to represent the various attacks, defenses, and special abilities available to each of the characters in the game.
Each of the Yomi’s 20 characters is represented by their own unique 54 card deck. The basics for each character are the same, as they all have number cards for basic attacks, face cards for special attacks, aces for super attacks, and jokers that act like the “trump” cards of traditional card games (but not as invincible.)
The variety in Yomi comes from the fact that each of the 20 characters is unique. They all have different special attacks, supers, and special abilities, as well as different starting life bars and max combo lengths. For example, there is Lum the gambling panda, who has several abilities in his deck that leave things to chance, and Midori, who can shapeshift into a dragon and gain access to extremely powerful attacks.
If that sounds like a lot to keep balanced to you, then you would be right. Fortunately, the designer of Yomi, David Sirlin, is no stranger to game design and balance issues, having worked on Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix and Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix, among other games. Sirlin is a competitive fighting game player himself, so he understands how high-level fighting gameplay works, and this is part of what inspired Yomi.
Yomi is played one on one, and starts with each player drawing a hand of cards. The sequence of play itself is deceptively simple: You and your opponent simultaneously choose a card to play. Then you both reveal your cards, and one card “wins” the combat based on a “rock, paper, scissors”-style priority system. Attacks beat throws, throws beat blocks or dodges, and blocks or dodges beat attacks. It sounds simple, but the devil is in the details, and there are a ton of details in this game.
Even if you have played the game physically or on the web, the iPad version is worth considering for a number of reasons. For one, the iPad version has an excellent tutorial mode. It won’t turn you from scrub to pro instantly, but it will explain the gameplay and some of the tactics in a logical progression from basic to advanced concepts, and give you chances along the way to practice what you have learned.
There is also an offline mode that lets you fight against one of two AI levels. Easy mode is just learning your chosen character, and hard mode should give you a decent challenge. The other offline mode is Survival, which pits your character against a series of opponents, similar to survival modes in actual fighting games.
Online, Yomi takes a nod from fighting games as well. You can play a quickmatch where you are given a random opponent to throw down with, or you can set up a match with a specific opponent. There is also a spectator mode that lets you watch others fight in real time, or you can access replays of fights that have already taken place.
Watching spectator mode and the replays is a great way to learn the ins and outs of this extremely deep card game. Another great feature of the online portion of this game is that you can play against opponents who are using the iPad app or the web version of the game, which instantly grants you access to a pretty large group of people who are already very dedicated to this game.
The one thing that might turn you off to this game, even if everything else sounds awesome to you, is the price. Yomi on iPad costs $9.99, and that includes all 10 base characters. There is also one additional in-app purchase of $9.99 that will unlock all 10 expansion characters. I personally think this is a fair price, considering it’s the cheapest of all the possible methods to buy this game, and there are no boosters, power ups, or energy meters to nickel and dime you.
With so many card games on the iPad, is Yomi a worthy addition to your digital card game collection? I think it is, because there is virtually nothing else like this game on the App Store. That may not automatically make it a Must Have for you, but it’s certainly worth a look, especially if you are a fan of fighting games or card battle games. If you are a fan of both, like me, than buying it is a no-brainer.