Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
If you have never heard of Yu-Gi-Oh! it is a popular Japanese anime that started in 1996, originally based off a Shōnen manga (comics geared towards male adolescences) with the same name. The show is about a boy named Yugi Mutou that becomes adept at a trading card game called Dueling Monsters. Quickly Yugi is forced to play in a card tournament to free his Grandpas soul from the clutches of Maximillion Pegasus the first antagonist. Also, the cards all have some overly complex reason why they're connected to ancient Egypt. As Yugi is in the possession of a Millenium item that gives him the power to transform into a more boss version of himself via a spirit of an ancient Pharaoh. The show led to several spin-offs that have continued onto the present day. Shortly after the show's inception the Yu-Gi-Oh! official trading card game arose and to oversimplify it’s like a cross between Pokemon and Magic the Gathering card games. Battling card games have always had a special place in the hearts of die-hard fans of Japanese anime. What a smart way to market or popularize a show, give fans the ability to engage by having a card game they can play. Yu-Gi-Oh! is likely the most literal in this pursuit, it’s a manga turned in to an anime about a card game. Not a difficult leap to have players use these cards in real life.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is a trading card game remaster of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist, but it's practically a brand new game due to the number of changes. A big difference is that it’s exclusively out for the Switch. Which means if you’re a fan of the original for PS4, XBOX One, and PC, you have to shell out for a Switch if you don’t already have one to play this remaster. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is easily the most extensive version of the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game in digital form with over 9000 cards at play.
You can go through each of the series’ through the Campaign mode battling in iconic Yu-Gi-Oh! matches, character challenges, build your decks, play with pre-made decks, and go online with a Nintendo Switch online account to test your skills. There are over 200 battles in the Campaign mode which can all be played in reverse taking on the role of any of the 182 characters. In Duelist Challenges, you can face previously beaten characters in a more difficult match. A thorough deck builder lets you craft from scratch or you can use pre-built decks focused on characters of the show. All with the freedom to tweak as you see fit to create a personal library of preferred decks. There is a vast amount of content to a game that may initially appear like a simple trading card game. A game that is the penultimate of fan service (in a good sense) for those who can’t get enough of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.
The story mode lets you dive into all the epic battles that took place throughout the original anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! to Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS that is currently still airing. Fantastically you’re not forced to complete each series chronologically and instead can pick whichever series you prefer first then play those in order. For someone who only watched the original series, it wouldn’t have been an issue but to anyone who would prefer to start with their preferred series they can. Every first duel of each series you’re forced into a starting tutorial because they all have slight variances or added rules put in. If you know the card game extremely well this might be a nuisance but to anyone else trying this out for the first time or the first time in a while, it’s very helpful.
The premise of the card game is to knock down your opponent's health points to zero by attacking them directly. In order to attack them directly, their board must be clear of dueling monsters or traps that will stop you. There are many different types of cards, from monsters, spells, and traps all with each their own attributes, uses and more. This playing card game seems easy enough on the surface but there is a nuanced complexity that’s become most apparent when you first try to build your deck. In the campaign, you can use either the Story Deck (The deck used in the show) or a User Deck. I got by for awhile using the Story Deck with relative ease, but as it became more difficult it was time to create a deck. The deck builder is when the game opens up and starts to feel like you’re playing the physical card game. Upon building my first few decks I would get annihilated quickly and have to change it or try a different approach. What helps the most in deck building is picking a clear style/theme to your deck, as you see modeled by the show's characters. No Story deck is random, each card can play off each other and should be your pursuit when creating your own.
Unfortunately, there can be some difficulty building one of the pre-made decks as you need to have very specific cards to pull it off. As you progress through the Campaign you gain access to character-specific booster packs available in the Card Shop. Booster packs are compiled of eight random cards associated with that character for a small amount of DP (the in-game currency). You'll likely have plenty of DP to buy tons of booster packs but you're not guaranteed the right cards for the deck you're trying to build. Opening booster packs become another form of grinding that should be something streamlined in the game. You'll end up with a ton of duplicates that you can't sell back or do anything with. My only other complaint is when playing a duel you have to be careful can't redo any moves. For me personally, I don't mind it too much as it adds gravity to your decisions despite me making some frustrating mistakes. You live you learn.
Overall this game is entertaining and memorable, even for those trying a trading card game for the first time. The fact that getting cards and building decks aren’t hidden behind a wall of microtransactions is my favorite aspect, you truly feel free. The learning curve isn’t too steep at the beginning but when the difficulty starts to ramp up you will start to extravagantly lose matches that seem completely unfair. The imbalance in some of the story missions was a fault, but I was surprised at how tense I would get during a close match. The online multiplayer can be similar where you win easily one minute and get trounced the next. All that said it does add to the desire to keep picking this game up, tweaking your deck and giving it another shot. A must buy for Yu-Gi-Oh! fans and trading card games alike and this just might be the title to get someone who has never played a trading card game deeply into it.