2023 marks the 25th anniversary of the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game. This year, I managed to rediscover the trading card game (TCG) via the 2019 video game Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of The Duelist Link Evolution. Coming back to the TCG after more than a decade, I believe that Legacy of The Duelist bridges the past and present of Yu-Gi-Oh! video games in the most fun and accessible way.
For the uninitiated, the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game franchise comes from the 1996 Yu-Gi-Oh! manga franchise created by the late Kazuki Takahashi. The manga tells the story of Yugi Motou, a shy teenage boy who loves games but struggles to make friends. Helped by the spirit of an old pharaoh, Yugi manages to not only make friends, but also become the King of Games.
Regarding the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, it was originally known as Magic and Wizards in the manga and loosely inspired by Wizards of the Coast's card game Magic The Gathering. Magic and Wizards became so popular in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga that Takahashi made it a central part of the story's plot. At that point, Magic and Wizards would become known as Duel Monsters before the card game debuted in Japan in 1999 and America in 2002. It would become so popular that gaming company Konami would buy the IP rights to produce video games based on the card game.
A New Dueling Legacy
Released in 2019, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of The Duelist Link Evolution is a remaster of the original 2015 game of the same name. While the original version lets you duel through anime story arcs from Yu-Gi-Oh! to Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, the remaster added duels from Yu-Gi-Oh! VRains and new cards from that series. The game also lets you play as each anime series' rivals and villains in Reverse Duels, duel with special card packs known as Battle Packs, and play against real opponents online.
One of the reasons that this game is accessible to both new and returning Yu-Gi-Oh! players is that there are extensive tutorials that show how to play the game. It teaches you about the types of cards, how to use them, and most importantly, the many ways to summon monster cards.
The manga tells the story of Yugi Motou, a shy teenage boy who loves games but struggles to make friends. Helped by the spirit of an old pharaoh, Yugi manages to not only make friends, but also become the King of Games.
In the past, I only played video games from the Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX anime eras so having tutorials for newer monster summons like Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Sychro Summons and Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V's Pendulum Summons were super helpful.
In fact, the tutorial mode in Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of The Duelist is especially welcoming compared to both newer and older games in the franchise. The online game Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has a tutorial mode in the game's solo mode, but most of it is focused on how to use specific card packs rather than the basic gameplay. Given that you can't use the card packs after completing each tutorial, it makes the card pack tutorial somewhat pointless for new players. In addition, some older Yu-Gi-Oh! video games like Yu-Gi-Oh! Eternal Duelist Soul didn't have a tutorial at all.
Deckbuilding Made Easy
Another accessibility feature of Legacy of The Duelist lies in its deckbuilding mechanics, which follow the official trading card game rules as established in 2020. Whether you win or lose, completing duels earns you cards and duel points to be used in a card shop to buy card packs inspired by a character from various Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series. Unlike in Master Duel, you do not have to spend real money to earn in-game currency to buy card packs.
In addition, there is also a special feature that lets you click on a card and see cards that are related to it. By doing so, you can choose the best cards that synergize with each other, to strategize and increase your chances of winning. This feature was notably absent in older Yu-Gi-Oh! video games so seeing it was a pleasant surprise. Master Duel's deck builder is more cluttered than I prefer, however, since it lacks the ability to put certain cards aside into a side deck for later and doesn't show how certain cards are related to each other.
In fact, the tutorial mode in Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of The Duelist is especially welcoming compared to both newer and older games in the franchise.
Party of One
By far, the most fantastic feature present in Legacy of The Duelist is the sheer amount of offline solo mode content. In addition to the aforementioned Story Mode, Reverse Duels, and Battle Pack Mode, there are also Duelist Challenges where you duel a character from the anime, who uses a unique and powerful deck that is stronger than the ones seen in Story Mode. While other Yu-Gi-Oh! video games like Yu-Gi-Oh! Spirit Callers had anime-inspired storylines, it could be difficult to keep track of what to do. Legacy of The Duelist doesn't have this issue because the anime storylines are followed in sequential order and you can play from any era at any time.
Of course, Legacy of The Duelist isn't without its flaws. While older Yu-Gi-Oh! video games let you see the monsters rise from the cards, Legacy of The Duelist only has special animations for signature monster cards. Another feature I miss from older games is the password machine, which let you type in a code to get a specific card. I also wish you could zoom in on card text instead of having a smaller blown-up version in the corner of the screen. Not to mention, the game hasn't been updated since 2020, which means newer cards and rules implemented after that year are not there.
Still, this game is the most accessible way to play the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG digitally. After buying this for my Switch Lite in late July, I have played it continuously for months and have yet to be bored. It reminds me of the first Yu-Gi-Oh! video game I played, Power of Chaos. The rules are different, but I still get the same thrill from selecting a card to play, dueling my best, and coming out victorious.
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