Following the success of the first Duel Master’s title, it was clear that there would be a sequel. And, of course, there is. Duel Masters: Kaijudo Showdown is the second installment on the GBA. Duel Masters is a card game, and follows in a long successful line of card games produced for console systems. It’s not the greatest game ever created, nor is it the worst. It just makes me wonder how long this style of game is going to remain popular without becoming totally redundant.For those unfamiliar with the card gaming craze, here is a brief history. Duel Masters is based off of a card game known as Magic: The Gathering. Basically, you build a deck of cards that you use to defeat your opponent. This is accomplished by summoning mythical beasts to damage and conqueror your foe, a simple concept that leads to very in depth strategic possibilities, which have fueled this style of gaming for over 10 years. With the success of Magic came countless other card games including Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, and, within the past few years, these games have landed in video game form.
The game play of Duel Masters: Kaijudo Showdown is rather simplistic. You walk around from place to place to find opponents to duel. Through defeating opponents, you win more cards that you can use to alter and strengthen your deck. The game kind of has an RPG feel to it with the presentation of the characters and the story, but, when boiled down, it’s one long string of card duels. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but unless you really love the card game, it can become a bit tedious after a few 100 duels. One frustrating part of card games on console systems is the speed. Being an experienced gamer, I know what is going to happen on the next turn, but you still have to wait for the game to go through all of the animations and moments to get to that point.
The game interface is serviceable and is a slight upgrade over the previous version. It does a fair job of keeping you informed of what is happening in the duel. The problem is if you are not completely familiar with the cards, it’s quite an exercise to navigate around to figure out what certain cards/monsters abilities are. This tends to slow down the game quite a bit at the beginning and can be enough to turn off an impatient gamer completely. The deck builder function is much improved over the original title allowing sorts on your card collection, which is invaluable to say the least. Even with the improvements, deck building is still quite a chore, especially once you amass a decent sized collection.
The graphic presentation is very standard. Nice, anime-like characters that match the characters from the TV show. Otherwise, the monster and duel animations are the same from the original Duel Master’s game, little monsters that sit and wiggle on your side of the board as they await there commands to attack. I feel that the city and landscapes look better and are much easier to navigate this time, and it truly gives you an RPG feel. Otherwise, pretty standard all the way around. As I am writing this, I have a hard time remembering how the music and sound were. In essence, it was standard, unremarkable stuff. There’s not much you can do with a card game soundtrack after all…
The AI is still not the greatest. I got tired of watching the computer make bad move after bad move, allowing me to win games that I had no business winning. The Duel masters game is not all that complex and it shouldn’t have been difficult to rev up the AI a bit. It’s easy to see that the opponent’s decks have nice cards and solid themes, but the AI players are unable to play them properly.
Duel Masters: Kaijudo Showdown accomplishes being a slightly above average card battle game on the GBA. It has a nice interface, and standard graphics and sound. All in all the game play becomes repetitive and predictable after awhile, and the excitement level of the title fades. I was really looking for this title to give me a fresh look at the game, but it ended up being just a slight upgrade from the first Duel Masters title. Basically, if you are a Duel Masters fan, or a card game junkie, then this is for you. Otherwise, it is a card game on the GBA that we have seen before.
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