Neverland Card Battles, true to its name, is a card battling game. Imagine an SRPG where instead of picking moves and skills from a set list, you pick them form a deck of cards; that’s the gist of a card-based game.
While I liked the mechanics of the game, Neverland Card Battles seems like a weak member of the genre. The story is generic and the voice acting doesn’t make it any easier to sit through. Luckily, the story parts come in talking-head cut scenes which can be skipped.
The actual gameplay takes place on a grid map, much like an SRPG. Players start by picking a card from their deck. Cards can be Unit cards, which lets you summon additional units to the field, Spell cards, which lets you perform specific spells or skills, and Base cards, which lets you establish bases for useful things like healing. The game does a good job with describing what each card does and listing its stats in a details screen.
After picking a card, players move into the Action phase where they can move their units and/or attack. Moving is important because it establishes territories (squares). The more territories a player has, the more points they end up with in the next round to spend on card costs.
All this sounds fine on paper, but Neverland Card Battles is plagued by long loading times. This is strange because the sprites in the game seem pretty low-resolution; I wouldn’t think it’d take so long to load them. For a game whose mechanics are based on a cards, I felt that the cards should have looked better. Players would be more into winning and collecting the cards in the game if the art on the cards were better looking. They just look too pixelated on the PSP’s screen.
I don’t expect card battles to be as action packed as Contra, but I do wish that the game didn’t feel so slow. Going from the card selection phase to the action phase feels excruciatingly slow thanks to these loading times. A smooth and quick transaction between phases would make the game a lot less painful to play.
It’s a shame that Neverland Card Battles has so many shortcomings that it makes the game almost unplayable on a portable system. People dying for a card battling game on the PSP might feel this is worth playing, but for everyone else, feel free to bypass it.
Images courtesy of Yuke’s.