If you’ve ever enjoyed a battling trading card game you should give Neverland Card Battles a try, even if it has nothing to do with Peter Pan or Michael Jackson.

Concept:  Magic the Gathering on a game board.

 

1.  I’m Bringing Board Games Back

First of all, I know that you play Mall Madness by yourself in between rounds of Gears 2, so you understand how cool it is that Neverland Card Battles utilizes a game board.  Accumulating territory by using your protagonist, Galahad, to walk over squares on the game map, produces the power (or mana if you’re a Magic: the Gathering fan) to cast spells like summoning monsters or hurling lightning.


Walk over your opponents land to steal it from him!

The Mall Madness level coolness comes when you figure out how use the game board to your advantage by blocking off thin paths with your monsters, summoning bases that give out bonuses to adjacent creatures or stealing your opponents land.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back to Magic: the Gathering without missing the element of strategy that moving my units on a game board brought.

2.  More Creatures than Noah’s Ark

I like how NCB isn’t tied down to any type of continuity when it comes to monster cards.  Monster cards, therefore, can run a wide range of sweetness, from samurai to robots or the fearsome Dogman you see below.


The fearsome Dogman.
Here’s a not at all real conversation I had with the game’s developer:

Jon: Hey Idea Factory, how ’bout you throw in some werewolves and some penguins…

Idea Factory:  how about a 9mm pistol toting penguin and Were-lions?

Jon:  I like where you’re going with this…

The variety of creatures, abilities and game board strategies make for some interesting decks, which you can all name.  Like me, my deck is named, “Zungre” which is short for: “Zungre Kicks Your Penis In.”  It’s comprised of fast creatures that steal my opponent’s land so they can’t even cast one damn spell, while I laugh heartily on my train ride to work, not attracting any women.


The whimsical Frog Ninja.

3.  Beat Up the Rich and Annoying!

Yuke’s knows how to create dislike for your opponents.  Their personalities can be boiled down into 3 loathsome chactagories: Egomaniac, Delusional, and Annoying Girl.  The combination of the script and voice acting help to get you somewhat invested in taking out your opponent.  But if you’re like me you’ll still find yourself saying, “Wait, am I fighting a little girl right now?”


Get away girl!

1.  Grinding for Cards is the New Grinding for Levels

Getting new cards by defeating rival Dominators is fantastic and wonderfully addicting.  However, I resented the fact that i had to play through a bunch of previous Dominators I had already whooped in order to compete with a new Dominator’s dramatic jump in difficulty, both in their base stats and in the amazingly powerful cards they owned.


This screen is what makes the game worth playing: earning all those new cards.

This is especially annoying when the “new” Dominators are stronger versions of Dominators you already beat.  I wish Yuke’s would had taken a little extra time to make a few more Dominators for me to fight.  Which leads me to my next request…

2.  More RPG, please

I would have liked to see my character’s abilities and base stats progress a little bit through the course of the game.  It seemed that everyone I defeated in the game came back stronger, but I somehow stayed at the same level.


By the time you have to face Hellgaia, you’ll probably be wishing you could have leveled up a bit.

And while where on the topic of characters, Galahad is okay, but I would have really liked the option to modify his stats, or better yet, create my own Dominator with a unique look and special abilities.  Even something as simple as Puzzle Quest’s different classes would have been nice.

3.  Galahad, Stop Talking

You know what’s worse than getting beat up?  Getting beat up and then getting preached at.  NCB’s protagonist Galahad doesn’t understand this.  He always takes time to break down why each of his opponents’ life philosophies suck after he crushes them in a card battle.  You know it’s bad when you’re the one giving the beat down, and you want your character to shut up.


That’s the satisfied smile of a man who just talked down on another man’s worldview.

I was also annoyed by the fact that I could use kill spells on my own creatures, damaging spells on myself and wasn’t prevented from using a spell on a creature it would have no effect on.  Just little things like this can make the learning process quite frustrating and maybe, cost a player a battle. 

7.5

If you didn’t read the review, scrolled down to the review score, and consider it a courtesy that you’re even reading this concluding paragraph, I want you to know a couple things:

Firstly, don’t feel condemned. I do it too.

Secondly, Neverland Card Battles is an enjoyable game.  If you’re a fan of Magic: the Gathering, Yu-gi-oh, or any other collectible card game, you shouldn’t let this title escape your notice.