A brand that has withstood the test of time for almost 2 decades despite it still focusing on mankind wanting to rule the world with playing cards, Konami are back with yet another installment of the popular trading cards game, this time marking it’s first outing on the Nintendo 3DS. For the 6th edition of the “World Championship” series, World Duel Carnival this time brings the spotlight to the most recent TV chapter, the ‘Zexal’ series, which follows hero Yuma, who meets mysterious entity Astral, who tells him he is in search for his lost memories which have been transformed into 100 poweful numbered monsters. To me it’s bizarre why it has taken so long to see the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise on the 3DS as all of its previous games on the regular DS, though retrospectively attracting a niche audience, were highly acclaimed and beloved by fans, one can only hope it’s been worth the wait.
If you’ve followed the games prior to World Duel Carnival and are only just getting your head around the addition of ‘Syncho Summons’ and ‘Turbo Duels’, you’ll be thrilled to find the latest trend in monster creating ‘XYZ Fusions’. To go along with this new style of breeding, the card total has been significantly increased, this time to almost 6000, which makes your eyes water when you remember that the PS2 Yu-Gi-Oh! titles were once proud to boast a measly 700. This new style to play sees a ton of new monsters, each with a number at the beginning (e.g #13 Phil Dean The Sexy Beast), as the new ‘number cards’ are the hottest thing amongst spikey neon haired teenagers. To create these monsters you have to combine a specific number and level of monsters to create even stronger legends.
Much like previous entries, you are given one of 2 options to play, ‘Story’ or ‘Free Duel’. Free Duel, very simply, gives you over 50 opponents to challenge ranging in various difficulties to try your luck against. You begin with a couple of hundred cards in your arsenal and beating your opponents unlocks their deck, thus more cards at your disposal. With over 50 challengers and most of them requiring to be beaten more than once to unlock their stash, there’s easily 100+ matches from the off. ‘Story’ on the other hand lets you pick one of 4 characters to begin with and win the World Duel Carnival Cup, after beating it you unlock several more characters and decks to play with. It’s worth noting that the Western release is somewhat lacking in playable characters compared to the Japanese release, where almost every person you meet is playable and we western folk only get 11. For fans of the Zexal series, you can expect to meet and do battle against all your favourite characters and you’ll be familiar with each of them as you select them to be your champion, for those of you like me who haven’t seen any of it, you really won’t care for any of the characters or the story, you’ll find yourself skipping the cut-scenes just to get to the juicy battles! In comparison to the past Yu-Gi-Oh games, I found this ‘Story’ mode a huge disappointment and I wouldn’t even go as far as calling it a story mode. Every game up to this point followed a movie like narrative, whereas WDC feels more like a TV show, where each episode struggles to fill its time slot and instead relies on a lazy repetitive model.
The biggest disappointment for me, though it may sound daft you’ll soon come to agree with me, is the lack of buying cards in game. Any game model that asks you to purchase cards whether it be free in-game currency or real cash is exhilarating. It’s the risk you take spending your hard earned tokens/points/coins and taking a chance on what potentially could be a waste of money. Much like purchasing the best gold packs money can buy on FIFA Ultimate Team in hopes of getting Ronaldo, or spending all your Poke’ Dollars on a slot machine in Celedon City to win a Polygon, Yu-Gi-Oh! games excelled the same way. Using your in-game currency led you to buy digital replicas of real card packs you could buy in stores, the rarest packs would cost you more points, but it was worth blowing 20 difficult duel’s worth of winnings to buy 8 card packs, find 6 duplicates of ‘Celtic Guardian’ just in hopes of getting that one shiny ‘Red Eyes Black Metal Dragon’; this is subsequently missing in WDC and instead you are given an alternative. Each character has several deck’s worth of cards, giving you the opportunity to craft numerous decks from what you’ve got when you’re facing difficulties during the story, only problem is, you can spend hours sifting through all 300 cards, crafting the most powerful 40 card army, dominate all your opponents, win the carnival … and then become a little peeved at having to do the same for a fresh character each time. More die hard fans shouldn’t find an issue with this as such, but for me personally I didn’t find it a rewarding experience.
It does however pose a great challenge to the game, using it’s restrictions in deck crafting to try and create the best stack of cards you can. Each playable character does have their own unique attribute (fiend, fire, machine etc) and subsequently a unique set of cards, each able to construct numerous decks from, and you’ll notice immediatley once you hop from one player to the next. This does show the level of detail and hard thinking Konami have gone through to make each playable character a different experience from the next, so I must commend them for their effort, however for me it has come at the cost of perhaps a more personal control of things.
You can’t fault WDC for it’s in-game content, there is a lot to do here, yet the lack of an online multiplayer once again feels like a step backwards for the franchise. All though online play hasn’t necessarily been the DS’s strongest factor, it was a nice touch to the Yu-G-Oh! franchise, taking your once believed to be dominating deck and getting your ass handed to you by someone else or vice versa, there was a real sense of achievement for your hard working playing cards and unfortunately it is sad to see it’s been removed, for why I don’t know. Sure the connectivity was sketchy and the duels took longer than usual but any game that boasts online play instantly creates an infinite amount of content for it’s players, though a small aspect of the game, it’s a shame to see it gone.
Visually the game looks great, despite it’s simple presentation and execution. With each installment of the brand on the DS there as always been a minor improvement in it’s visuals, and making the jump onto 3DS has granted it a chance to add more animation and ‘pazaz’ into it’s presentation; even though the 3D effect has been used very little, it is still a great improvement to the series. Just like entries of old, the controls are incredibly easy and the game is simple to navigate around, making it even simpler to just pick up and continue where you left off.
For newcomers to the Yu-Gi-Oh! games, this is a great entry point, its simple, basic to control and there is a lot of content and challenge to keep you busy, but more ‘professional’ duelers and fans of the previous games will find a lot missing here; the sad thing being they were all small but essential factors and possibly easy to add in. Konami in my opinion have dropped the ball slightly with this franchise, after the fantastic ‘Tag Force’ series on the PSP, its almost 3 years into the PSVita’s life cycle and we’ve yet to find a Yu-Gi-Oh! title on the Sony portable. Don’t get me wrong, World Duel Carnival is a great 3DS game, it’s very well made and packed together, making it a worthy purchase for a serious fan, but just don’t expect it to blow your mind or to innovate the series; I’d honestly stick with the older Yu-Gi-Oh DS titles, or better yet, crack out that PS2 and buy “Duelist Of The Roses”.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.