By looking at the name alone, you wouldn’t be able discern that 100% Orange Juice is a board game. Beyond its anime style and theme appearance, it is certainly one of the more interesting hybrids of skill and chance that can be frustrating as it does bring out the worst in people with a competitive nature. It still amounts to a great deal of fun all the same.
Title: 100% Orange Juice
Genre: Card/Board game
Developer: Orange_Juice (Published and localized by Fruitbat Factory)
System: PC (Steam Store)
As someone who grew up with the traditional analog games such as: Monopoly and Uno to the more unorthodox such as: Duel Masters, Yu-gi-oh, and the Pokemon TCG – 100% Orange Juice undoubtedly sets itself apart as these titles electronic counterpart in both good and bad ways. With the good hinging on forging your own winning strategy against the unpredictable RNG (random number generator) from hell – it almost topples the negative where the game leans heavily on a steep learning curve even with the provided manual. Regardless, if you can stick with it and find friends to join in with some the mulitplayer aspects, 100% OJ becomes both an exercise in bringing out your competitive spirit as well steadfast patience against a nearly unfair, if not fickle game of pure chance.
As alluded to, there is no set way for you to win a game in 100% Orange Juice: it is all up to you. While the overall goal is to get 5 big stars, you can do that in one of two ways. One, you can defeat a prescribed number of opponents (random monsters and fellow players alike) or collect a set number of smaller stars by the aforementioned methods or landing on a bonus panel. Like most board games, 100% Orange follows a simple routine of players awaiting their turn and rolling dice that will determine how panels they get move over. Most of the panels have various effects such as: receiving more stars, dropping them, drawing a card, getting into a random battle, wrap panels, a base that will heal HP and allow you to receive your “Norma” (the condition for getting those big stars) or nothing. Ideally, you want to complete your Norma as soon as possible to get to the next, but as I am sure you will find out the process isn’t so easy as you will lose stars, meet defeat by another player, or simply cursed by bad luck. To this end, one round of in 100% Orange Juice can easily amount to an 1 hour of play that will be a world of suffering or joy until you choose to end it. However, that is only the half of the game and I have yet to get to the vindictive part.
Before you begin a game, you get to build a deck of cards from a pool you own, 10 in total that possess different effects. You only start off with one when you begin a match, but if you land on a draw card panel during your turn, you will eventually get more. The cards can be use in various ways: some as panel traps, some immediately, and others in battle. Using them in combination ways will help your game, but also can hinder it just like it can for the other player. For example: I was behind on my Norma for the fourth star while one NPC was close to winning. I decided to lay a trap on the board that would give 3 points of damage to however landed on it – enough to deal with that NPC for a turn or two. As fate would have it, due to stopping on a wrap panel twice, I eventually fell for my own trap and died. Unable to roll a higher enough dice number to revive myself for two turns (you have to do that if you die), the NPC eventually won, a game I spent 45 minutes carefully trying to control. If all sorts of mischievous like this can happen via single player free play and campaigns, you can only imagine that this makes for a rousing meta game of “piss off your friends/family/random people” in multiplayer. At the end of the day, it is still all fun, but hard not to get competitive or slightly angry with all the misfortune that can happen or come from behind victory moments occurring at a moments notice. When you win matches, you get certain number of stars dependent on your end game total and used as currency that will allow you purchase new cards from the shop or stronger random battle monsters that adds nice element of surprise and challenge for both yourself and opponents, but also ups the reward.
Mentioned previously, besides playing the main campaign as anyone of the 4 initial characters, other game modes include: single player free-play or multiplayer where you can host a room with friends or join in with others. The wait does vary if you are joining a game, yet I found myself getting one around 7 minutes with everyone ready to play, due to the sizable number of players that will sometimes be present on odd days of the weekday. The weekend wait is not bad either. You can also view your play records, see the cards you have, and more importantly – view the manual (which I think only pertains to the Steam version). Again, while is possible to pickup on the rules rather quickly, the manual is still must if you want to get most of the game and really understand the fundamentals so you can be at your best. When it comes to rules, this game is anything, but intuitive and will probably take you a couple of hours to have a working knowledge of things.
Boasting a 2D anime style design, the artwork is vivid and colorful – befitting a game such as this. Unless you have played other games developed by Orange_Juice (they have also been translated by Fruitbat Factory), then most of the characters will likely be foreign to you, but you don’t have to know the characters to enjoy this game. The music is also nice – plenty of it akin to elevator music, yet nice relaxing, if not already to throw a fit. Thankfully, with all the description of the cards clear and manual very thorough of what you need to know, Fruitbat Factory has done a great job with localizing the game as well as keeping up with periodic updates the it receives. More blessings or headaches? You be the judge.
100% OJ definitely isn’t and won’t be for everyone – nonetheless, if you are the person that likes competitive play against friends or family, it will be a perfect fit. The game does have an element of easy to get into if you learn the rules, yet also naturally hard to master due to luck and skill being equally important to how well you will perform. Although for game that doesn’t take itself too serious, you shouldn’t either and will be enjoyable if manage to do just that.
Pros: Easy to jump into, different ways to achieve victory, an equal usage of skill and luck, collectible/useful card component, great artwork, nice soundtrack, manual included
Cons: matches can drag on, steep learning curve, could use a predefined tutorial
Note: As of writing this (10/14/2014), the game is on sale via Steam until Oct 20th. $6.99 to $2.93 is a good deal if you are interested enough.