|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Idea Factory||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Yuke's Media||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 28, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
in Your Favor
by Cole Smith
I admit that card games don't excite me. That is until I start playing them. Even the most inane of card games have an addiction factor, at least until you discover its shortcomings. No game is ever the same, and there are always different levels of strategic depth to keep things interesting.
Some games rely heavily on your intellect, while others rely on luck and chance. A good game will have a balance of both, with luck and chance playing a minor role; nobody wants to win or lose on the roll of the dice. Neverland Card Battle incorporates some of the best elements of classic card games and arrives at a title that is challenging, addictive, and relatively easy to play. It doesn't stray far from the clichés of the genre, but it manages to emerge with a unique charm and style that is sure to captivate a wide range of gamers. That includes those who believe they wouldn't be interested in such a game.
You're going to have to spend a little time with the instruction manual but don't despair. There's a built-in tutorial, allowing you to play the first couple of games as a sort of test run. You may not catch everything, but, overall, the game is easy enough to learn by trial and error. Even if you know you're losing a particular battle, the game encourages you to play to the finish, since it will reward you with new cards just for playing. Talk about great consolation prizes. The key to a card game is to build powerful decks, and the more cards you can amass, the better you'll do in future battles.
Neverland Card Battles is more than just a strategy card game. An RPG storyline ensures that there will be a general levelling-up of sorts as you progress. More powerful cards will become available later in the game, increasing the general complexity of the gameplay with each battle. Cards will be able to summon more powerful creatures, and various elemental affiliations will also increase the powers of individual cards. Each deck will hold up to the 30 cards. You can collect three decks, but you can only use one for a particular battle. Of course, there is some luck involved in how you stack the deck. While it's a generally accepted strategy to have a well-balanced deck, you can't help but imagine how great it would be to use a deck specifically tailored to kick your opponent's butt. But since you don't know what you're up against until you enter the battle, it would be taking a risk. But relying on chance is not entirely a bad thing, since you'll still collect some cards for your effort, win or lose.
Thankfully, chance takes a backseat to skill and strategy in Neverland. Random card draws are the staple of card games and there are no exceptions here, but it's only at the outset of the game where luck plays any significant role. As you begin to collect cards, it's up to what you decide to keep and what you discard. You'll find some cards are more useful than others, and that really applies to some of the super-powered cards that you can only use at specific times such as when you're standing on the corresponding elemental grid. Sure, they may be capable of incredible devastation or territory appropriation, but it may be taking up valuable real estate in your deck since it's use may be rare. Then of course, there are the totally useless cards that are just weak-sauce to begin with. That's a good enough reason to fight each battle to the bitter end, just to see if you can improve your deck. You're going to have to fight for your survival in this game, Neverland won't be giving you a handout. Even when you're down to your last card, it won't help replenish your deck. When you're out of cards, you're done, so play it smart.