100% orange juice is no longer what you’d find in your fridge. Instead, now you can find it on Steam and Desura. Yes, the name of the game is 100% Orange Juice. Why? I don’t care, and I don’t think the game does either. The strange name is only the beginning, however, of the bizarre realm of 100% Orange Juice. Because I can’t pass up the opportunity to make a citrus joke here, the game is definitely sweet, but at times can appear very sour. In fact, I am pretty sure this game hates me.
100% Orange Juice is, at its essence, a simple board game. While it may take a game or two to fully grasp everything, it’s fairly simple, but also fairly brutal. Four players are placed on a board and must roll a die or dice to move forward either playing passively, trying to quietly and quickly obtain as many stars as you can, or aggressively, out for blood and attacking enemy spaces and opponents around every corner. The way the game challenges you to choose and alternate these styles of gameplay is what makes 100% Orange Juice an excellent game, as the player must be apprehensive in the face of the unfortunate circumstance where your strategy, and the world itself, has seemingly failed you.
Naturally, stars are easier to obtain, but also easier to lose. Battle wins are difficult to obtain, but remain with you. Regardless of what you choose, you must navigate the insane board bringing your spoils to a home base to level up. Five levels and you win. It’s simple, clean, wild, and fast, but a game can still take up to 20 minutes. It will be a frantic and intense 20 minutes though.
Different play styles offer a nice variety to how you approach your imminent destruction. I say imminent destruction because this game is hard as all hell. One big drawback is the intensity the computer AI is set to by default. With some other settings, the average player can ease into the game much more easily. As a result of its default difficulty, 100% Orange Juice can be soul-crushing. As a matter of fact, it took me my six or seventh try before actually beating any of the stages. Let it be known, however, that it is absolutely satisfying when you finally win.
The only problem there though is that my win was mostly in part to some very lucky instances where I was randomly warped to a spot that I needed to be in to level up. If it weren’t for those couple of moments, I would have probably been in tears (not really, maybe, I don’t know). The point is though, with a game very reliant on chance, it would help to alter the enemy AI and adjust to the gameplay a little more easily. Make no mistake, I was having fun, but it was painful fun. Also, I am convinced that one particular stage is flat-out impossible with that bastard Kai winning every single match somehow. That one stage, by the way, is fairly sloppily designed. The rest are excellent though.
Gameplay aside though, 100% Orange Juice has a very nice and clean presentation. Considering all the lunacy going about, its effects are fairly minimal, and it’s probably better that way. Still, I would really love to this game given an overhaul with more thoroughly animated characters, attacks, and stages. Nevertheless, its current display is just fine, complete with some good music that changes whenever anyone levels up to better accompany and accentuate the turning tides.
100% Orange Juice is far from perfect, but it’s still an exceptional virtual board game that really pushes your buttons. With some tweaks to the formula, specifically changeable difficulties, more consistent stage design, and some tweaks to the general presentation to help make the on-screen madness a bit more legible, 100% Orange Juice could really pick up speed with a phenomenal little series of board game titles. All the elements are there: charm, strategy, and madness.
[+Fast, fun, and frantic board game action][+Great strategy variety][+Simple but wild gameplay][+Bursting with charm][+Nice and subtle presentation][+Generous learning curve][+From concentrate][-Victory can rely too heavily on chance][-Some inconsistent level design]