I can't believe that Yu-Gi-Oh isn't dead yet. How many variations of the same card game will gamers continue to purchase? There is something about the essence of this game that totally eludes me. Perhaps it's because I'm older. Surely not wiser, but older none the less. Whatever the case may be, this games possess some kind of magic that continues to make it more and more popular. I sure wish I was the one that thought of it.

Maybe the addiction to the game is the fact that it requires some strategy. For many kids this may be the first time they've ever used their noodle so intensely. Some people devote their life to chess and while I'm not comparing Yu-Gi-Oh to chess, there are some strategic similarities. For young gamers Yu-Gi-Oh can offer an incredible challenge that instills confidence in their intellectual abilities as they develop their playing skills. There still is the element of luck and that variable is unpredictable giving less skilled players a fighting chance against hardcore players. It evens out the battlefield. Still, there's a lot to consider at each turn of a card.

One of my peeves with the series as of late is that there is no tutorial to bring new players up to speed. I don't know why Konami would want to alienate potential buyers. It does however reward loyal fans that do know what's going on by building on past foundations. This version includes a thousand cards with 800 classics and 200 new ones. These new cards don't change the basic gameplay but do enhance it.

Explaining how to play this game is far beyond the scope of this review. I'm really surprised that Konami doesn't offer an online tutorial for new fans. That way they wouldn't have to pack it into the GBA cartridge. They could throw together a text-based tutorial with some static graphics in less than a day and make these GBA games instantly accessible to novice players. Add some tips and tricks and thousands of kids will be on their way down to Wal-Mart to pick up a copy of the latest Yu-Gi-Oh. Konami, if you're reading this I'll let you know where you can send my royalty check.

Briefly, the object of the game is to deplete your opponent's 8,000 hit points by playing cards that help take them away. Both players have a deck of cards. These cards contain monsters and certain powers or abilities (spells/magic) that can be combined for more powerful effects. Your opponent may be able to block or ever reverse these threats depending on which cards he plays. You can attack or defend and sometimes you can even do both on one turn. You can never own the game because there are random cards that can change the entire dynamics of the match at any give moment. Sometimes it all boils down to the luck of the draw.

Knowing how to stack your deck is important. You begin by purchasing packs of cards called booster packs. You take the best cards out of them to create your battling deck. As you engage in fights the objective is to acquire money from your opponent to purchase more booster packs. There is no shortage of fights. With the money you earn you can acquire up to 20 different decks to deal with (pardon the pun) virtually any situation.

One major improvement is the interface which allows you to organize your decks in such a way that makes them easier to access. It won't give you any help regarding the selection of your decks but it will store them in different categories for quick retrieval. Learning how to stack your decks and play the appropriate cards is a skill that you will acquire over time. Everyone has a slightly different strategy because there is no foolproof system thanks to the random cards.

The isometric view has been altered to make it look more like a real boardgame played on a table. The game includes three limited edition cards which include Silent Swordsman LV7, Kaibaman and Mind Control. Graphics are bright and very colorful, making things not only easy to see and read but appealing to look at as the cards come to life with good animated effects. To make things really seem fresh some new tunes have been added.

My interest in Yu-Gi-Oh peaked a couple of years ago, although I still enjoy playing it for a few hours when a new game comes out. Since I don't collect the cards and I'm not interested in watching the series I may not be the best person to review this game but I realize there is a legion of fans that support this franchise almost fanatically. Konami really knows how to market to them and they respond in kind - with cash. I can only approach this game as a videogame reviewer and as such I can't really recommend this game to fans since there's really nothing new about it. With only 200 new cards out of 1000 that means that only 20-per-cent of the content can be considered new and if you take into account the structure of the gameplay, which is unchanged, that percentage will actually be quite lower than my generous 20. If there were a tutorial this would be a great game for beginners - but there's not so it's not a great game for anybody.

Click For Media
System: GBA
Dev: Konami
Pub: Konami
Release: Feb 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Dan