Duel Masters is the latest trading card game (TCG), and cartoon turned video game to hit the United States. Much like Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon before it, Duel Masters revolves around your hero collecting the perfect deck of cards to compete against other duelists in order to become the ultimate Duel Master. The game starts as your hero celebrates a birthday and is given the gift of some rare cards, when for no reason, a thief breaks in and steals them. Your job then, is to find out who stole your cards and retrieve them. Along the way you’ll participate in duel after duel gaining experience and cards in order to build a stronger deck. You will summon monsters, and try to break your opponents’ shields with them in order to gain victory. The basis is simple, but it’s the execution that provides the fun and the challenge.Duel Masters (DM) isn’t exactly going to put you into visual sensory overload, for a Game Boy Advance title the visuals are standard, if not very generic. Since the game doesn’t take place in a huge world filled with large sprites and the sort, it’s not necessarily the most required commodity. Still though, one can make the argument that because it takes place in some static screens the game should look even better than most. Well, it doesn’t. The game will let you wander from town to town, (and a small world it is, too) and the only reason you’ll know where you are in the first place is that the towns name is brought on to the screen when you first enter. The towns all look the same, the characters you’ll duel against are a clever use of palette swapping, but they’re all the same, and the cards you’ll use, again all the same. Graphically speaking this is a nice looking game, were it on the Game Boy Color, which it looks like it could have just as easily been made for.
The true mark of any video game’s music is whether you’ll willingly be humming the tunes long after you’ve switched the power off. Some music burrows its way into your brain and won’t relieve you from its deadly vice grip until you’ve found a suitable replacement for it. While others make you hum the song and wonder where you can buy the soundtrack. Duel Masters is more of the former than the latter. The same issues that plague the game in its visual department seem to be here, meaning that what they have is a healthy start, but with more variety the game would be so much better. The music is catchy, but will get repetitive after several minutes of listening. Sound effects in the game consist of you picking a card, playing said card, the monster hitting the battlefield, then one turn later you may use that card to destroy your opponents monster or shields. If you can imagine a roar here and there, the sound of glass breaking, and the usual sounds of someone toggling through a menu you’ve just heard all the games sound effects. The audio in Duel Masters may have you humming the tunes for the rest of your day, but probably for all the wrong reasons.
Duel Masters: Sempai Legends has standard issue game play mechanics. You run around from town to town, getting into random duels with generic characters building your deck into that perfect unbeatable assortment. The battles can be rather frequent, but you’ll need every one of them in order to qualify yourself for the next tournament, which for some reason has character level requirements as opposed to item requirements. So, you’ll spend more time competing against those random duelists then the tournament duelists, who by the way are the same boring characters.
The duels themselves, take place on a generic backdrop that matches one of the five color groups that the cards come in. From there it’s mostly point to a card, play that card and watch that card come to life, then watch as it may or may not do something on this turn depending on the cards abilities. Your main goal is to deplete the shields of your opponent; this seems to be a simplified variation of the life points in other games, like say, Yu-Gi-Oh!. This is all standard TCG play, so this probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with these types of games. If you can master the fundamentals of pointing, clicking, and pointing and clicking some more you’re well on your way to becoming a Duel Master.
What good is a game named Duel Masters if you’re not able to battle your friends to see who amongst you is the best Duel Master? Well, lucky for you linking up with a friend, allows you to trade cards, items, or just battle. This is, again, all standard for a game of this genre. Unfortunately, Duel Masters doesn’t bring anything new to the table as it’s more of a case of been there, done that.
Duel Masters looks to be a good introduction into trading card games for the uninitiated, but for those who have experience with Yu-Gi-Oh! or any of the other TCG’s, you’re probably happy with that game and Duel Masters won’t offer enough to make you change your mind. The graphics are average, the story is all but non-existent and the game itself is based on a card game; not exactly the most story enriched source material ever. However, it can be fun trying to collect all 180 cards, and battling your friends if you’re both at the same skill level can be pretty gratifying for the winner. Duel Masters has its flaws, but in the end if you’re new to the trading card game genre, you shouldn’t have a tough time easing your way into the difficulty this game provides.
While not the strategic game it could be and not providing the best challenge for seasoned gamers, Duel Masters: Sempai Legends is a good title for younger or new players looking for a way into the trading card video game world. So, if that applies to you, then maybe this game is something to look into, otherwise, a sequel is likely in the works that will probably remedy some of the mistakes made in this game. Solid, but not great.
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