Sometimes, video games can attract attention just because of their names. This is likely the case with 100% Orange Juice, even if the primarily response is confusion. After all, it sounds more like the description of a drink than any game! But 100% Orange Juice is very much a game and quite the fun one at that. You’ll just have to spend a bit of time learning about its rules to truly enjoy it.
You might find yourself wondering what exactly the genre is for 100% Orange Juice. Basically, it’s a mix between a board and card game. After selecting between one of four characters and a deck of twelve cards, all players are ushered onto the game board to duke it out for supremacy. Once the game has begun, the goal is to succeed long enough to fulfil special requirements five times in a row. Once each task is completed, that player is crowned the winner with everyone else ranked in order of how close they got to clearing all goals.
There are always two ways to complete tasks. One is to gather enough stars and the other is to beat enough enemies. The second is easy enough because there are special enemy squares on the board and you can always attack another player if you land on their square. But how about collecting stars? These are also gained in successful battles against enemies (as you steal half their stars) but also via special star squares. Of course, by losing too many battles you are also forfeiting your shot because your stars will be stolen away.
If that sounds at all confusing than the rest of the ruleset will be even worse. However, it’s really a matter of playing through a match or two to sort everything out. Battles are a bit weirder to figure out, although it ends up making sense too. Fights are taken care of primarily via dice rolls for attack, defend, and evade maneuvers. Initially, it seems that whoever has the higher dice roll should win, but the game quickly shows that to not always be the case. So, what gives?
Something that many players will miss at first is that each character has their own stats for attack, defense, and evade. These stats are either added or subtracted from the dice roll for that character, creating a number different than what the dice themselves show. With that in mind, you’ll see that some battles are not nearly as clear cut as they seem. For example, some enemies are at a major advantage with +3 attack, while others may be plagued by a lower defense.
Each characters battle stats are altered by cards. Before the start of a match each player (human or CPU) selects their deck of 12 cards. All of these cards get put into one main deck for all players to pull from when they land on the card space. Some feature the ability to increase attack or defense while others can lessen them. Trap cards also exist which can deplete life from either random or specific enemies. At the start, there are only 15% of all cards unlocked but you can redeem more at the shop between matches.
Those who are willing to stick with it will find an unexpectedly full product. Each of the four main characters has their own campaign with a variety of episodes to complete. Some characters are more newbie friendly than others, such as Kai, so keep that in mind if the game seems absolutely unwinnable. Beyond the campaign, there is also a free play mode which can be played against 3 CPUs or online with a buddy or group of friends. Multiplayer functions much the same as campaign matches, just without including any story sequences in between.
Although this may all seem overwhelming, it is important for prospective players to be aware of how gameplay functions. Unfortunately, 100% Orange Juice offers no tutorial or manual to help out in this regard. That’s probably the major negative about the game because it is a lot of fun – if you understand. But understanding takes time and it is fair that some players will skip out on the game because of the initial floundering around required to learn.
The next factor which could turn some people away is that there is a great deal of dependence on luck. This is true of many traditional board games and even card games to an extent. However, it’s very present here thanks to the way the goal system is handled. As stated earlier, the player needs to accomplish a specific goal over and over again to claim victory. The only way to be recognized completing it though requires your character to be on a specific square type. Landing on it is entirely dependent on a lucky dice roll rather than skill.
Of course, with battles being primarily based on dice too that’s another area where luck prevails over skill. Efficient use of cards might swing battles in your favor, but not always. The path to success is through lucky dice rolls even if there is a bit of strategy involved. Some players will enjoy this because it means they don’t have to be a skilled tactician. However, anyone with an aversion to luck-based games should probably pass.
Visuals are decidedly middle of the road, although they don’t need to be impressive for a board game. The main characters are based off of developer Orange Juice’s game characters (hence the title) and are all pretty standard anime-style leads. Boards themselves are bright and easy to read once you know the functions of various squares. Despite average graphics, the music proves to be quite good. There are not a ton of tracks but the songs included are lovely.
It’s hard to recommend 100% Orange Juice wholeheartedly because it is the kind of game that needs instruction and is sorely lacking in that department. If each download came with a manual that would go a long way. In any case, those who are willing to learn about the title will find a cute and fun board game to waste some time with. Just don’t get mad if you lose the first time around. Give it another shot and your luck might just turn around!