|Publisher:||Yukes Company of America|
Idea Factory’s Cardinal Arc: Neverland Card War was a best-selling hit in Japan, but it never caught interest in the West, so no publisher has found it a worthwhile release. In 2008, Yukes picked up the rights to port it over to the PSP, and they will release their port later this month. Weeks ago, RPGFan got some hands-on experience with this card-battling strategy game.
Ages ago in the continent of Neverland, a dark god named Hellgaia emerged, bent on taking down all of humanity. His ambition was cut short when five gods sealed him away to stop his evil reign. After doing so, they split Hellgaia’s power into cards, and those who wield the cards are known as Dominators. Eons passed, and over time, Hellgaia’s seal weakened, and so arises the need for new dominators. One day, a gambler named Galahad was summoned and told about the situation, and wanting to spice things up in his life, Galahad chose to accept this challenge and become a dominator. In the game, he sets out on a journey to put a stop to the new coming of Hellgaia.
The game is a hybrid of a card battle game and a strategy game. You have a deck of cards to utilize, and the objective is to defeat the opposing dominator. You must spend points in order to utilize these cards to defeat your opponent, and you must have territory in order to get points. Territory is gained by moving onto either empty spaces or your opponent’s spaces to mark your color. The more territory you have, the more points you earn. The creatures you summon can also claim territory, but if your opponent steps on your territory (or vice versa), only the dominator can claim it back. The mechanic is similar to how you set land cards to gain mana in Magic the Gathering, minus the stealing.
There are over 200 cards in the game, divided into 3 categories. Blue cards are creatures. They have their own stats, and some of them are able to utilize abilities. Purple cards are magic, and they can be used to interfere with your opponent or to help you win the fight. Yellow cards are base cards, and they create obstacles to help you out or hinder your opponent.
Yukes claims that the game will take 30-60 hours to complete, depending on how much of a completionist you are. There are 16 different maps, each having some variations to them, and 18 battles to be fought.
There is not much to say about the graphics. The sprites are distinctive, but they are quite small, and the battle stages are simple in design. The highlight comes from the illustrations. The character designs are solid in detail, and each of the game's over 200 cards has a unique design, as seen in many trading card games. The main graphics may not be overly artsy, but the artwork is still very nice.
In the audio department, the gameplay music is nice and fits well with the game's overall style. There is also a catchy J-Pop theme in the intro. There is full English voice acting in the game, and it won't grate on your nerves, but there is no option for Japanese voices.
From what I’ve played so far, Neverland Card War holds promise. Stay tuned for more information when it is released on October 28.