|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|
Speaking of smart, the A.I. is formidable. I would be more impressed if it made more human-style mistakes. It plays a pretty weak game at first, but after the honeymoon is over, it takes no prisoners. It always plays the right card at the right time, giving you very little slack. Fortunately, there are different ways to win the game, so you can change your strategy if you feel the A.I. has the upper hand in a particular area. One way you can win is to conquer or capture all the territory on the screen. The battlefield is divided into grids. The more grids that you can control, the more territory you will have. The more territory you have, the more points you'll receive during each of your turns. These points can be used to finance your troops in battle and summon various beasts in addition to magical powers that can assist you with everything from more powerful attacks to increased resistance from attacks. Not only does your principal character move around the grid, but other characters and cards do as well. They can be assigned to move out and capture more territory.<\p>
Dominators are your best friends or worst enemies. Similar to bosses in that there is one per level that you must beat, they possess more power and skills. Each is different and will require new strategies to defeat. While an accepted strategy would be to capture as much territory as possible to keep the enemy Dominator at bay, certain grids will be associated with specific elementals, which can allow for summoning from vast distances. Your Dominator is essentially the leader or general. He must be protected, because when he's out of hit points, the battle is over.
In this fantasy realm, you are commissioned with proving yourself worthy to save the world from a demonic god-like entity known as Hellgaia. It's a cliché story that suffers from inane dialogue and low quality cutscenes. The story is short, but it's not important to the gameplay. There are 16 levels in the single-player mode, and some of these battles can take up to an hour. Replay value is increased with the player-versus-player mode, but keep in mind that it's local, as there is no wireless internet mode. Technically, the game is good, however it's not completely solid, as there is some lag each time you move over an onscreen character. It's as though the CPU can't store that info and has to load it each time from the disk. In the heat of battle, it gets tedious quickly. Graphically, the game is low-res all the way. The 16-bit graphics look cheap and the animation is second rate. But the cards look good. Plus, they are easy to stack and interact with. The music and sound effects are not even worth mentioning. Turn the sound off and you'll be doing yourself a favor.
Neverland incorporates enough gameplay variety to recommend it. Those that may not be interested in the card game genre are urged to get on deck.
CCC Senior Writer