Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel impressions: a great virtual spin on the classic

Ever since I showed my first deck of cards at the school playground, I’ve been thinking about Yu-Gi-Oh! as an even more stylish, discreet, older cousin to Pokémon. Whether it’s Yami Yugi’s spiked hair and belt-sized choker, or the intricate designs of monsters like the Blue Eyed White Dragon and Exodia Forbidden, the series has always felt a little more mature and a little darker than other popular series of the time, like Pokémon or Digimon – both to me. liked it too.

So when Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, came out and topped the Steam charts in January, I decided to check out what the hype was about. It turns out that Yu-Gi-Oh! still cool in 2022, and Master Duel makes card game more accessible and fun than ever. Longtime gamers have a new way to play their favorite classics across consoles, Windows PCs and mobile devices. And while the free game is littered with various currencies, challenges, and rewards that can be difficult to sort out, strong tutorials invite newcomers.

In case you are unfamiliar, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a turn-based card game inspired by the manga of the same name. In the game, you try to deplete your opponent’s life points, or “LP”, by summoning monsters, laying out trap cards, and using special magical bonus cards. Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel a sparkling, nostalgic call to early Yu-Gi-Oh!, but in the format of a free card game that provides an enjoyable and fast experience. Those who have played before will recognize the brown, gold, and black swirls on the back of the cards. The gameplay strategy is just as fun as the original card game and you can play with classic cards or switch them and the game will teach you the new mechanics that have been introduced over the years.

Image: Konami Digital Entertainment

But the game also welcomes beginners. If you haven’t played Yu-Gi-Oh! after some time – or ever – the game will be generous with useful tutorials. There is a standard guide to the basics, as well as other supplemental guides that go into more detail about summoning special monsters or playing with certain decks. As a returning player, I appreciated having the game guide me because there were times when I didn’t know when or where to play my cards. The game takes care of these hints for me.

While there are many structures to support players, Yu-Gi-Oh! was and still is a game for those who like to read cards with dense text and try to understand their meaning. The game won’t teach you how each individual card works, so you’ll have to parse quite a bit of text to figure out how to actually play certain cards. I enjoyed recognizing disparate rules or specific monsters, and then digging through the annals of my five-year-old brain to find that I did remember some of the rules of the game.

The game is also saddled with the confusing difficulty that has come to dominate many free-to-play games these days. The game has various currencies that you can earn or buy, as well as many challenges and rewards. The opening of virtual packs is a sensational feast for the eyes and ears, but it serves to get people to buy more digital packs (with in-game currency or real money) – and it’s incredibly easy to get caught.

Image: Konami Digital Entertainment

however, don’t let Master Dueldensity holds you. There are so many details that really make this digital version of the card game shine. The animation and sound effects feel incredibly tactile, giving them a crisper-than-real-life feel that’s hard to replicate in a digital version of a physical card game. When you play a card, you hear a sound effect and animation that makes it feel like you’re dramatically slapping it on the table. As you or your opponent lose LP, your checkmate side crumbles and breaks as either player gets closer and closer to losing. The card draw in this game also feels exciting as every card I choose can save me. (Even if it doesn’t come true.)

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel can seem like a lot to go through, thanks to map relearning and all the added Freeplay mechanics. But the game still makes for an enjoyable social evening with friends as we all relive the good old days, one card at a time.

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