There’s definitely something to be said for a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, especially one that goes so far past silly no one can even tell you where normal is anymore, and this is certainly the case for 200% Mixed Juice. The latest game by Fruitbat Factory, the legendary makers of the board game and friendship destroyer simulator that is 100% Orange Juice, does not take too much from its predecessor and instead it attempts to give the player a fun and light-hearted RPG visual novel. While the game lacks much of what made 100% Orange Juice fun, and in fact doesn’t do all that much that makes the game fun, it does have its own charm that helps to cover some of the flaws.
In 200% Mixed Juice you play as Protagonist, a princess with magical powers and lacking social skills, who must traverse a crazy storyline and fight a number of interesting enemies in your quest for something! The story is never all that clear on the overall aim for your character and for much of the game you seem to be dragged from area to area by a variety of friendly characters, or forced there by enemy actions, and you never get a real sense of agency in where you’re going. If you’re looking for an open world RPG this certainly isn’t one and you’ll be disappointed if you want anything more than the ability to choose your roster of fighters and the order you combat enemies in certain areas.
Speaking of fighting enemies (smooth transition right here) the combat is probably the largest part of the game that the player has any control over. Foregoing the traditional board game style that its predecessors held dear 200% Mixed Juice opted for a turn based fighting system that would not feel out-of-place in an early Pokémon game. Each character is given a type (depicted as rock, paper or scissors) and these types make them strong or weak to certain moves and abilities. This essentially turns each fight into a repetition of find a move the enemy is weak to and repeat until dead, with SP being the only thing that breaks up the monotony. SP is gained by a dice roll at the start of each round and can only really be earned this way, so if your rolls are bad you can either tickle away at the enemies until they die or use one of the free moves to tank their hits until you’ve saved for stronger attacks. As you level up and earn money you can buy new characters and hit harder with your current ones, but the simple three type system makes the combat feel dull after a very short period.
Luckily the game is not all about the combat and the majority of playtime is spent following the text-based story. While this is, at first, a cheery way to break up the monotony of the combat it becomes tiresome quite quickly and the button mashing to skip much of it is as tedious as the combat. While there is some amusing humour to be found (and not all of it as child friendly as a game with this aesthetic would have you believe) it is not frequent enough to keep me gripped for all that long. So the game is an odd mix of tedious gameplay and story that long outstays its welcome, which all in all doesn’t really lead to a great game experience.
The game also comes with a multiplayer feature that allows the player to battle against enemies all over the globe. However, I was unable to get into a game as the player base seems all but gone at this stage. There may be some hard-core higher level opposition my weak team was not able to fight but unless you’re going to battle through the entire game multiplayer doesn’t seem all that viable at the moment.
In my opening I said that the game did have some charm about it. Since the charm is certainly not in the gameplay or pacing it must be in the presentation and aesthetic, which is indeed the case in part. The graphics of the game are strong, with a cute anime vibe being prevalent and a cartoon heavy cast that makes for an exciting visual experience. The backdrops, characters and enemies all look suitably cute and well-drawn and is probably the games strong suit. The music, however, is a real mixed bag. While the tunes are well fitted to the game and have an elevator lightness to them the limited playlist is reused and repeated to death, taking all of the fun out of the initial listening and forcing the player to look elsewhere for music. Outside of the music sound effects are all fairly standard, with nothing standing out as good or bad on that front.
As mentioned above the pacing of the game is quite off. The game can be easily finished in four or five hours of play and the difficulty seems to be fairly flat if you just follow the matchups and use your strongest team at all times. Once the game is complete there’s little that would warrant further play, aside from grinding for multiplayer or completing your team of characters, and as such the game is somewhat of a one hit wonder.
Sadly, my conclusion is that 200% Mixed Juice is not at all what I was looking for. The cute graphics and at times fun story cover some of the flaws the game has but at the end of it all the game has a repetitive and bland gameplay loop that is not at all fun. While there’s not all that much to love about MJ I will say that the game could bring some fun for heavy franchise fans at a heavy discount. Just make sure to bring your own music and your reading glasses, and maybe have another game open on your other screen just in case.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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