Yu Gi Oh, Brother...
One of the first rules of journalism is to never admit your weaknesses. You can't start off your story about the Middle East by mentioning that you don't really follow politics. The same goes for video game reviews. "I never play action games...but here's what I think of Unreal Tournament!" just doesn't cut it.
So I had a bit of a sticky problem when I suddenly found myself forced to review Yu Gi Oh! The Dawn of Destiny, because, you see, I really knew nothing about it.
Well, I've learned a lot in the last week. I learned to play the card game, I watched an episode of the show, and I even found out what Yu Gi Oh means. Most of you reading this review probably know all this stuff and think I'm an idiot, but you're just going to have to wait for the rest of us to catch up.
Loosely translated from Japanese, Yu Gi Oh means "King of Games." It is also a bit of word play on the main character's name, Yugi (which is spelled differently in Japanese, but pronounced the same). Yugi is indeed very good at games - in fact, he solved the ancient Egyptian "Milennium Puzzle" and thereby awakened the soul of an ancient pharaoh trapped within. The pharaoh occasionally possesses Yugi, turning him into the powerful Dark Yugi. The cartoon mainly consists of characters fighting each other by playing the Duel Monsters game, which was created by Pegasus J. Crawford, who coincidentally also stole Yugi's grandfather's soul. Makes perfect sense to me, but then again, I'm often drunk.
The card game itself is a bit like a simplified version of Magic the Gathering with all the attack and defense numbers multiplied by 1000. The duelists build their decks out of the cards they own, and then they take on an opponent's deck, summoning monsters, spells and "traps" in an attempt to kill the opposing duelist.
I've also learned that Yu Gi Oh! has made Konami a fair bit of money over the years, to the tune of $2 billion worth of cards, $500 million worth of video games, $70 million worth of comic books, and god only knows how much on many other licensed products.
Shame on me for not paying attention. I could have been a billionaire.
However, one product that probably shouldn't make any more money for Konami is Yu Gi Oh! The Dawn of Destiny. The first Yu Gi Oh! game for the Xbox, it mimics several previous games released for the GBA and PC by essentially just being a single-player version of the card game.
In fact, it's definitely just the card game. There's no story, no quest, nothing. Just build your deck and start playing. And you had better already know how to play, because there's no tutorial. By winning you can get new cards and unlock new duelists to fight against. You can also fight against a series of three duelists.
Let just say that Dawn of Destiny plays the Yu Gi Oh! card game just fine. It has over 1000 cards and follows all the little rules of the real game. What Dawn of Destiny fails to do is offer anything more than this. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
The graphics sure don't offer much. There's a game board and the cards look like cards, only harder to read on your TV. Want to see your monsters really duke it out? Well, there are some bland 3D models of all the monsters, and they do appear on the screen when they fight, but what they don't do is actually fight. They just show up, some damage numbers appear over them, and then they go away again. Unimpressive.
The sound is really just the music from the show and a couple effects for spells and whatnot. It's inoffensive and sounds vaguely Middle-Eastern. I dunno, I don't pay much attention to politics.
But most mystifying of all is the absence of any kind of multiplayer. There's no Xbox live support and no two-player mode. Believe it or not, the only way to play with someone else is to have two consoles, two copies of the game, two TV's and the Xbox link cable. How handy. How much cooler would it have been to take your killer deck online and test it out against some real duelists? Much, much cooler.
So even though the Xbox plays the card game just fine, there's just no reason I can think of to play Yu Gi Oh! The Dawn of Destiny. This duelist can't contend. Save your cash, use it to buy some real Yu Gi Oh! cards, go down to the Burger King and play with your friends.