In preparation for the release of Madoka Magica: Rebellion in Japanese theaters this past weekend, I decided to look at one of the series' forays into the gaming world, namely the social game Madoka Magic Online.

Like most Japanese social games, Madoka Magic Online is card based. Everything is cards. The other characters in your party? Cards. Your weapons and equipment? Cards. Your special skills? Cards. In fact, everything you do, from completing quests to gathering treasure is all for the purpose of getting more cards. And as is usual for these types of games, you can always buy rare cards with real world money if you don't want to grind for them.

But while in many ways Madoka Magic Online is your standard, derivative Japanese social game, its presentation is at least enough to set it apart. To start with, you create your own magical girl to fight alongside the characters from the series—and as you gain weapon and equipment cards, your characters’ appearance will change to match what you have equipped.

The actual game itself takes place on a series of gameboard-like maps. You roll a die each turn and move the number of spaces shown. Depending on where you stop, you get tickets, cards, or items, or just lose some of your HP to a trap. Sometimes, you'll roll a “Madoka” and be able to choose the number on your dice—landing on whichever prize you want. At the end of each board, there is a boss fight. In these, you watch your party of magical girls battle against a witch in an automated, turn-based battle. After winning, you then get a little visual novel-style cutscene and return to the main menu.

Also, as you play, your characters will level up regardless of the cards they have equipped. Your custom character will even gain experience points after every level—allowing you to tweak your character a bit.

As long as you have some AP remaining, you can do as many quests as you want. Of course, as is standard for social games, if you run out of AP, you won't be able to continue playing until your AP restores over time naturally—unless you feel like paying in real world cash to restore it. Though, I will say, in my first twenty levels, I never ran out of AP as leveling up restores you to full AP each time.

All in all, I found myself enjoying Madoka Magic Online more than I expected. While it was card based just like every other Japanese social game out there, the fact that these cards were everything from characters to equipment made it feel different if nothing else. Moreover, the board game aspect was at least something I hadn't seen before; and the overall character design was enjoyably cute. If you can't get enough Madoka Magica in your life and you have some time to burn, there are worse things you could be spending your time on than Madoka Magica Online.

To see the game in action, check out the video above.

Madoka Magic Online was released in 2012 for web browsers. It can be played for free from its official website. If you are having region-locking issues or need help in setting up an account (as it is all in Japanese), check out the troubleshooting guides here.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

To contact the author of this post, write to BiggestinJapan@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @BiggestinJapan.