Welcome to the sordid world of Yu-Gi-Oh; a card-battling realm rife with schoolyard dealings, under-animated television shows, and enough collectible cards to send your mom's wallet straight to the ICU. If the previous sentence has you salivating, you're likely already a disciple of the spiky-haired savior– shuffling your decks in wild-eyed anticipation for the next challenge, prepared and eager to sink your opponents with your rare set of holographic dragon cards. However, if the preceding setup has you scratching your head, you might want to close the browser window and never look back.
One thing that will be readily apparent upon popping World Championship into the DS is that, if you're not well-versed in most aspects of card battling, this game is going to eat you alive. Duels are fast and unforgiving, and most of your pick-up-and-play experience will come from Free Duels against the CPU. As you play, you build up a record of your victories and losses and, of course, become an increasingly formidable duelist.
You won't find anything in this game that you can't enjoy with more enthusiasm by actually playing with the cards themselves...
So is a fresh-faced newbie to this world dead in the water from the start? Although the instruction booklet would have you believe so, clocking in at a modest 11 pages, there's a fairly in-depth tutorial mode that holds your hand through pretty much all of the game's many facets. These can take a hefty chunk of time to run through and, while helpful, tend to foreshadow the hours of tedium that a newcomer is destined to experience thereafter.
This would be all fine and dandy if the interface wasn't so off-putting. There's an intangible but gamy stench of the mundane laced into the entire presentation. Battles take place on 4x5 grids; the bottom screen displays a general, static overhead view, while the top runs a crude 3-D perspective of the match. When monster cards are cast, for instance, they pop out of their respective cards and loom menacingly on the top screen. The whole thing is so unattractive and dull, though, that fans will be clamoring to shut their DSes, and engage in an actual card match far away from the tinny sound effects and uninspired music.
What the game could use is some sense of progression. Rather than just being a tool for engaging in digital card battles, some sort of story mode or, at the very least, recurring bits that serve as brief reprieves from the game's dueling prisons would make this seem like more of a game than a limited application. Even something like the set up of Chocobo Tales, while far from perfect, would have been nice.
Aside from the regular duels, you can test your card-slamming strength with the challenges, which allow you to choose from various deck limitations and other themes that create unique situations on which you can sharpen your dueling edge. Honestly, this might be the most appealing feature on the menu. There's a much greater sense of accomplishment to passing these tests than there is in beating the CPU over and over again.
Hardcore collectors take note: this package also contains three limited edition cards with which you can beef up your real life decks. The best advice you can get from this intel is to take the cards and go play with your friends far away from your DS. You won't find anything in this game that you can't enjoy with more enthusiasm by actually playing with the cards themselves– that is, unless you have a serious thing for bare bones design and eye-gouging visuals.
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