REVIEW: New ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ game is great for new players, not avid fans of the series

“Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution” was released on the Nintendo Switch on Aug. 20. 

While “Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution” is the first Yu-Gi-Oh! game released on the Nintendo Switch, the game is more suited for players looking for nostalgia — not those looking for a new experience.

For those who’ve never seen the anime or played the game, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” is a trading card game where players build a deck of 40-60 monster, spell and trap cards and battle against other players in a duel.

“Link Evolution” is an updated version of the original “Legacy of the Duelist,” which was first released in 2015. The Switch release contains all the mechanics present in the trading card game. Meanwhile, the 2015 version omitted the newest change to the original game’s format, Link monsters, which have quickly become completely necessary to play the game competitively.

The game’s story campaign is split into each anime series’ storyline, and players replay iconic duels as the show’s protagonists, either with a deck of their cards from those episodes or with a custom deck they’ve built out of the cards they earned.

As the years have gone on, the trading card game has gotten more complex, with each new series of the anime adding one or more new ways to bring out powerful monsters. This game allows players to go through the stories in the order they were released — or out of order, if they so choose. This allows new players to learn the mechanics gradually, instead of having to jump into a fairly complicated game right off the bat.

However, the pace of the gameplay is fairly slow if the player already knows how to play the game at a decently competitive level. For comparison, if I were to take the deck I usually play in real-life tournaments and use it in this game, a standard duel seems like it would take an extra 15 to 20 minutes, which is half of the total time allotted for a best-of-three match.

Additionally, while the game covers a huge variety of duels from the anime, the story scenes leading up to the duels aren’t fully voice-acted, which takes away some of the magic of reliving cool moments from an old show.

With that said, there are still thousands of cards available to earn in this game, with most cards released before February present. The game allows players to buy themed card packs with in-game currency. The card archetypes present in each character’s pack are diverse enough that even if someone is looking for a specific set of cards, they should be able to build a few new decks by the time they’ve gotten what they’re looking for.

The dueling itself usually goes pretty smoothly. Players have the option to customize how often the computer asks if they want to play a card that can be activated, and other than controlling the pace of play, that’s one of the most important options a virtual card game can have.

With that said, the deck editor can take some getting used to. Players can use multiple filters, based on the type of card and specific criteria on them, to find the cards they want to put in their custom deck. 

The game uses two separate sets of windows — one on the right and one on the left — to shift between the cards in a player’s deck and the ones in their collection, and both of them can have different filters. That’s a really handy feature for in-depth deck building, but it may be jarring for casual players at first.

I genuinely love to play “Yu-Gi-Oh!” — I’ve been all over the country for it, been to three national championships and even acted as a rules judge at large tournaments. However, “Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution” for the Nintendo Switch isn’t a game I’d recommend to most people who play the trading card game. Even so, it is a great starting point for anyone who wants to learn how to play the game in real life.

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