It's Your Move!
The incentive for engaging in these duels is it allows you to collect both Kaiba Credits and experience points. With the credits, you can visit the card shop to purchase booster packs, which each contain five additional Duel Monsters cards. As you get farther in the game, more series of booster packs become available for purchase, and eventually, you can even use the "password machine" to get a card you have in real life by entering the numeric code in the lower left corner. The experience points you gain serves to raise your duelist level -- it works like an RPG, except for no "stat" increases -- and you get a big credit bonus for each level you gain. A higher level also raises the likelihood that you'll be invited to compete in any championships KaibaCorp holds.
The flow of the duels themselves is fast and furious. And through the use of the DS' dual screens, it's as entertaining as it is intuitive. While the bottom screen remains relatively unchanged, the addition of the DS stylus helps to make everything as easy as a quick tap there and a drag here. You can even use the D-Pad in conjunction with it to do what you gotta do, double-fisted like. Unlike a lot of other early DS titles, the top screen is used to enrich the gameplay experience; Now when you summon a monster to the field, they actually materialize from the cards -- just like the show -- in full 3D. When they do battle, you see your two monsters face off -- well, sorta just stand there as damage is dished out -- and it really refreshes what had otherwise been an experience that was growing stale (I guess that's what happens after eight GBA renditions).
Everything Old is New Again
From a visual standpoint, everything is about what you'd expect from a TCG gone video game. The cards are all colorful and detailed -- a noticeable upgrade from the GBA titles -- and the 3D rendered monsters look absolutely fantastic. Though they're not on par with Dawn of Destiny on the Xbox, I'm a realist, DoD sucked, and they still look freakin' awesome to me, even if they're not made of 10,000 polygons apiece. As for the characters themselves, the cast from the show are all presented as animated busts that are bright and detailed, and even animate as they speak (well, their mouths move and facial expressions change).
Really, the only place where Nightmare Toubadour falters slightly, is in the audio. The sound effects are the same ones we've been hearing since the earliest of GBA Yu-Gi-Oh! games, but to its credit, the musical score does contain some catchy tunes with a decidedly Yu-Gi-Oh! feel. Fortunately, this isn't a case where you're going to have to kill the volume to enjoy the game.
As a huge fan of the trading card game, as well as the prior GBA games, I've got to say that I was totally floored by this game. I knew Konami was going to be bringing the franchise to the DS, I just never expected them to take such care in doing so. What we have here is an example of how a GBA game should be adapted to the DS, and it turns out to be the most entertaining and addictive Yu-Gi-Oh! title to date.
So, if you're into Yu-Gi-Oh!, I think you know what you should do. Even if you only have a passing interest but would like to get into Yu-Gi-Oh!, give this game a look. I can assure you that you won't be sorry. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a championship to win... It's time to duel!