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[Review] Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

Posted on August 31, 2019 by (@LyonHart_) in Reviews, Switch

System: Switch
Release date: August 20, 2019
Developer: Other Ocean Interactive
Publisher: Konami

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution gives fan of all ages and all eras a chance to have the experience of card gaming – from its collective nature, strategic building, and more – at home or on the go. While it doesn’t have the grab it once did, the franchise is alive and well and now has an incredibly high amount of cards. Yu-Gi-Oh! has always held a special place in my heart having grown up with it, despite me having fallen off around the time 5Ds was in circulation, so jumping back and learning so much of the new elements like pendulum and XYZ cards had a sort of thrill behind it, allowing me to catch up on all that I’ve missed. With Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, it is exactly what it sounds like – the legacy of Yu-Gi-Oh! as a property, and the adventures of Yugi Muto throughout the history of the illustrious series.

Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution doesn’t offer much in terms of visuals, so right off the bat things will seem mundane in terms of presentation. But what it lacks for here it makes up for with a rather filling experience that provides an option for just about anyone looking to jump into some fun. If you’re a new player or returning player, the game recommends a tutorial mode that will take you through an intuitive and concise lesson for just about anything you’re trying to learn. Rather than doing it all at once, they’re set up numerically that takes you from bottom to top for the mechanics regarding Yu-Gi-Oh!, so players can choose what they’d like to brush up on, being able to participate in mock battles to get a hang of it themselves. I found this massively helpful and I was able to catch up on nearly a decade lost of new material in the span of fifteen minutes, which was rather shocking to say the least. I had been wanting to jump back for quite some time but was always reluctant and nervous due to my hiatus. I have friends who are judges at local tournaments for Yu-Gi-Oh!, so it was always a little disheartening not entirely understanding everything they would be saying (and they’re not exactly the best teachers), so Legacy of the Duelist helped make the learning process incredibly easy and tailored to what a player would like to learn.

For those that have been with the series since day one, Legacy of the Duelist takes you through a much appreciated campaign that teleports players to all the significant parts of the anime’s history. While these are bite-sized versions since some arcs can last up to hundreds of episodes, it’s still cool to be able to see and play these monumental moments, putting players right into the duel from their perspective. Alternatively, some duels allow you to see the flip side of things by allowing a reverse duel feature to play and see through the eyes of the opponent that was initially supposed to lose. Watching another outcome in a “what if” situation as the defeated becomes the victor is a neat feature Legacy of the Duelist has, offering a glimpse to a potential alternative universe.

A big disappointment to this, however, is that the campaign is as barebones as it gets in terms of presentation, which, as stated earlier, the game doesn’t try very hard on. There isn’t any dubbing available in Japanese or English, and the dialogue sequences themselves are conveyed in static images with the occasional change of emotion, similar to a visual novel. The dialogue exchanges don’t typically last more than thirty seconds at a time, presumably because they’d like to just get players into the duel right away so there’s just a quick setup for narrative purposes. It’s a hugely missed opportunity to really celebrate over two decades of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and it’s unfortunate that the mobile game, Duel Links, has more production value than a console title. I remember putting myriad hours into the likes of Dark Duel Stories and Forbidden Memories on Game Boy Color and original PlayStation respectively, and even those had more thought put into the visuals than Legacy of the Duelist has. The only time you see any sort of special effects are when bigger cards are used, like the famous Blue Eyes White Dragon. In these instances, they get a special animation of them being summoned, but those only last for about three seconds before it fades to black and you’re taken back to the playing field. Even here, the sequences are barebones, with textures so flat Blue Eyes looked like a prototype prize figure.

Despite the poor display of visuals, if you’re looking for a pure duel experience that rids of the hassle of carrying cards and even having to buy so much of them, Legacy of the Duelist does well to get the job done if you want something that isn’t filled with ads and microtransactions that a free-to-play alternative would be plagued with. The online feature made available also does an adequate job at being responsive and getting paired with other duelists quickly, though the biggest issue I found with this is the allotted time each player has to make a move. Each player has 600 seconds to decide what it is they’d like to do during their turn – this includes draw phase, main phase 1, and everything up until ending your turn. Out of the more than 15 matches I played online, over half of them had players waiting the entire 600 seconds just to put one card down; 600 seconds, mind you, totals ten minutes. I’m not sure if players were trolling or something else was going on, but even as someone who hasn’t played in years, despite my heavy involvement prior to that, I shouldn’t be finishing my turn in the span of 30-60 seconds while others take ten minutes to simply lay a card down. Online mode doesn’t have any preset messages or the ability to chat either, so there’s no way to communicate to the opposing player to please, for the love of Exodia, hurry up or find something else to do.

Most of your unlocks such as exclusive cards, themed decks, and more come from the campaign mode, so every time you defeat another duelist, you’ll be taken to a screen showing all the fancy new items you’ve gotten. However, the most important for all of this is the currency. This currency can be used to spend on booster packs to help construct your dream deck, but even the boosters themselves need to be unlocked first. Typically when you defeat a notable character from Yu-Gi-Oh!, you’ll be able to acquire booster packs from them that will more or less be themed around the type of cards they like to play. This isn’t to say you’ll only be able to acquire their cards, just cards that closely relate to their style. For example, Mai Valentine loves harpies, so you’ll see harpy and related flying type cards from her boosters whether she’s used them or not. With Yu-Gi-Oh! having well over 70 different types of booster packs since it’s been distributed (not including decks, boxes, tins, etc.), it’s a much more streamlined way to getting the cards you want choosing from a handful of characters that fit the portfolio instead of filtering through tons and tons of cards. Thankfully, the in-game shop tells you how many cards you’ve acquired from each vendor out of the total amount from each and for the entire catalog in the game.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist is a reasonable approach to bringing the historic card game to Switch, as everything is stable and crisp in both handheld and TV mode. Some text on cards can be hard to read on handheld mode, though an “enlarge” button is available when you want to go more in-depth and take a better look at the art of the cards as well. Some cards, notably pendulum cards, will likely have you expanding the info since they typically have a lot of information on them since they’re so versatile, able to be used as either a spell card and/or monster card. If it wasn’t so barebones, though, Legacy of the Duelist would be a definite pickup for fans of the series. Unfortunately, well after the campaign is done there just doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for me to go back and continue playing unless I’m in the mood for a duel or two. Konami has provided much better entries for Yu-Gi-Oh! in the past, and while Legacy of the Duelist is a fine game in its own right, with plenty of alternatives on a multitude of platforms that provide a much more refined and polished experience for a more appealing cost of entry, unless Switch is your only console, you’re not missing much by not picking this up in the immediate future.

The Verdict

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is true to its name by taking players through the history of Yu-Gi-Oh! as a series and for Yugi as a character himself. Leading all the way up to VRAIN, playing as all of the protagonists – and even antagonists with the reverse duel feature – is an awesome way to put yourself in the shoes of those involved in some of the most historic moments the anime and manga have offered since the late 90s, playing with their respective decks and making the game yours. Nearly 1,000 cards makes it a meaty offering that provides players with tons of decks to form, both custom and preset, to utilize for play in campaigns and local and online multiplayer modes. It doesn’t offer much in the way of visuals whether navigating menus or dueling, but if you’re looking for a pure Yu-Gi-Oh! experience that can keep you from buying a plethora of cards of be bombarded by myriad microtransactions and ads, Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution does well to quench the thirst for players of all kinds to deliver a satisfying Yu-Gi-Oh! experience that’s accessible, fun, nostalgic, and welcoming to a returning player like me.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution copy provided by Konami for the purposes of this review.

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