If you were to tell someone that the fate of the world depends upon the outcome of a card game, you'd probably get funny looks. If you mentioned that the cards come to life and huge monsters spring forth from the paper, chances are you'd be on a one-way trip to a room with soft walls. "It's just not normal," they'd say. And you know, in any other situation, they'd be right. However this is a special situation. It's not about a mental condition, not having gotten enough hugs as a kid, or even some schitzo episode. It's about Konami's latest DS release, Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour; Where the monsters are real, but everyone knows it and it's okay.
To those unacquainted with the Yu-Gi-Oh! name, it's a trading card game -- much in the vein of Magic: The Gathering -- which involves decks loaded with various types of cards; Monster, Spell and Trap cards. Each player has their own deck, and they play in matches called "duels." Various rules outline the play progression and how each card is used. It'd take me forever to get into the specifics of how to play -- if you want to learn, Nightmare Troubadour has an excellent tutorial mode -- but I'll just say it's an incredibly fun and addictive game. Why else would I be interested?
Welcome to Battle City
Naturally, Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour is a video game in which you play this card game. You start the game as a duelist, whom you get to name, that is thrust forth into the latest Duel Monsters tournament (that's what they call the game), being held by the former champion, Seto Kaiba. Seto Kaiba is to Duel Monsters as Bill Gates is to computer operating systems. He didn't create the game -- that honor goes to Maxamillion Pegasus -- but he knew how to market it, and he's made a fortune doing it. So the story goes, some unknown person or party has been messing with KaibaCorp's dueling computers, and Seto hopes this new tournament will help draw out those responsible. What's cool about the adventure-esque flow of the game is you actually feel as though your character is an integral part of the story. You'll encounter all the characters you (may) know and love from the cartoon including Yugi Moto, Joey Wheeler, Taea Gardner, Mokuba Kaiba, and Seto Kaiba, and they all actually interact with you as you help unravel the mystery.
Mind you, by unraveling the mystery, I don't mean you do any detective work. All you actually do is seek out these other duelists and play games of Duel Monsters. But it's fun, it's addictive, and this time (unlike prior games in the series), it helps to actually advance a story. And of course, the more you duel each duelist, there's always the chance they'll ask to "register" with you, which makes it so you recognize them when you locate them on the map (using your duelist radar), but also allows you to duel them anytime you wish.