Collectible card games are a tried and true genre that have become essential in the world of table top and video games alike. Konami’s latest entry into the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise is no exception, as evidenced by Yu-Gi-Oh! GX The Beginning of Destiny.
This review will spare all the dirty details of the gameplay, being that the core mechanics of all recent Yu-Gi-Oh games have been the standard tabletop simulation of the game. Essentially, if you’ve played a previous game in the series or played the actual card game, you’ll be able to jump right into it without any trouble. For those who are new to the game, there is a nice tutorial mode that outlines the game’s rules in great detail.
The premise of the game is that the player takes on the role of a new student in Seto Kaiba’s Duel Academy. The flow of gameplay entails going to school each day, taking tests, and meeting the other students. Before you write it off, the length of time spent in “class” is brief, and the first week is basically used to give instructions on how to play the card game. This passage of time is similar to that of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy on the GBA, with monthly exams in which you prove your knowledge and skill of the card game to try and increase your academic standing.
The player’s character enters the school under the rank Slifer Red. From there, the aforementioned exams give you the chance to advance to Ra Yellow or Obelisk Blue, bettering your “rep” with the other characters. Outside of the card game, there’s a sort of RPG dynamic where you walk around on a map, talking with the different characters in the Academy. You can chat with them about their interests and try and make friends with them, so they’ll be more willing to duel. It doesn’t really seem to serve much purpose aside from giving the player others to interact with, but it’s a nice enough touch.
As the player progresses, the plot emerges, which is the premise of the show’s first season: the evil Shadow Riders emerge to try and take over the Duel Academy and resurrect their master Kagemaru and the three beasts of legend, Raviel the Lord of Phantasms, Hamon the Lord of Striking Thunder, and Uria the Lord of Searing Flame.
Even though it’s more of the same of the tabletop simulator, the card games themselves are spiced up with dialog and animations of the duelists showing their stuff, and some of the monsters even get some nice CG FMVs when they attack/draw/activate cards/etc. Outside of gameplay, one of the nice touches is that if a player connects a PSP running Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force 2, the game gives them a nice little starting bonus of 10000 DP on both games, which can be used in the in-game card shop to buy new cards, as well as giving three bonus cards.
There are a number of fundamental flaws with this game. The first is multiplayer. Where is it? The game case claims to be “1-2 Players,” but none of the in-game menus any kind of multiplayer options, nor is there any detail on it in the game’s very sparse manual. Some clarification on how to enable that would be nice.
The connectivity bonuses with Tag Force 2 are about all the game has to offer. Everything else aside, this game is nothing more than a port of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force, the first game for the PSP. What’s more, the original Japanese version of the games had voice acting during the duels when the characters appear onscreen to make their moves. The absence of the original Japanese voices from the game isn’t so much a bother as is the fact that there were no English voices put in their place; so while the animations are fun to watch, they feel rather lackluster.
In summation, the dueling element of the game is pretty solid and emulates the tabletop game, as well as the show, quite nicely; but the game still feels far from complete. If you’re a hardcore fan of the series, it’s at least worth checking out if you skipped over Tag Force on the PSP. For everyone else, it’ll likely fall flat. For those who choose to check it out, get ready to “get your game on!”