NDS Goodness: Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2007, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl
Posted by Yogizilla on May 13, 2007
Well, I couldn’t keep it up any longer. My Nintendo DS beckoned and I heeded it’s call. If you read my last blog entry, you know that I purchased a few awesome games after trying really hard not to budge. I simply must to discuss two in particular: Pokemon Pearl/Diamond and Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship 2007. Before I say anything, I want to let you guys know that these games are both good entries for new players so don’t be shy. If you like strategic gaming, role-playing games, TCGs, or anything of the sort, give these games a try. Hey – that rhymes!
From the start, even the most casual Yu-Gi-Oh! fans may notice that this game is totally about the new wave of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards – the GX Series! While this is very much true, the beauty of this game is that, with over 1600 cards to collect, it is the most complete Yu-Gi-Oh! game to date, hence why it is the platform of choice for the World Championship coming up in June 2007! Duelists of all types can find something that appeals to them in this installment. I admit that there have been some lousy, lackluster installments in the series but this game returns to the grass roots of portable/handheld system Yu-Gi-Oh!: a focus on dueling, strategizing, and deck building. No worrying about exploring vast areas, going through many drawn-out cinematics, and having countless “gimme” battles – Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2007 is a challenge from start to finish, packed with lots of dueling action!
Now, before I proceed, I will let you in on a little secret: I am a very picky gamer. As a game designer and writer, I tend to analyze games and judge them on a different scale. For me, a great game has to have high replay value, fluid gameplay, variety, and, wherever possible, a strong human element (even good AI gets boring and predictable after a while). Both the latest Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! games for the Nintendo DS meet this criteria.
In the tradition of previous Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship game packs, you get three Limited Edition Yu-Gi-Oh! cards to add to your offline card stash. If you do not play the game offline or “in real life” as people like to say, they have a good resale value. I believe it is because of this that Yugioh-Land.com is able to offer the game at well under the usual $29.99-34.99 price that we are seeing out there in the US market. If you want the “new car smell” and the little bonuses, buy the unopened pack; otherwise, you can get the game used, often in “like new” condition, from many people – just get your hands on a copy!
Key Features – Brought to you by Yu-Gi-Oh! World:
- Head to head worldwide dueling via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
- Includes over 1,600 of the latest cards and more available via download
- Voice chat available before you start dueling
- Create and edit the look of your character
- Each game includes three exclusive trading cards – Spell Striker, Exploder Dragon, Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
If you own previous versions (the Game Boy Advance games, that is), you may notice that the game plays very differently. The core mechanics are still there but there are all sorts of new filters, analytics, play modes, tutorials, and more. They really are trying to open Yu-Gi-Oh! up to the masses and the game aligns well with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Online game for the PC (big fan of it, BTW – can you tell??) – kudos to Konami for planning things out properly!
I played both the original and 7 Trials to Glory versions of Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship heavily. The original was a little more story-driven and had things for the cartoon fanboys as well, whereas from 2004 and onward, we started to see less story and more action, with a few exceptions here in there. By the time Ultimate Masters Edition came out in 2006, the game’s UI (User Interface) was very polished and the DP system was balanced out perfectly. Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2007 took the winning formula and built upon it, making a very true-to-the-series, hardcore version of the game!
Now, I can say many good things about the game so, first, allow me to share some of my gripes… The 3D graphics are annoying at first if you are used to a more simple, clean interface. Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour had similar issues. It could have been a great game had it not been for some of the weird mechanics and cumbersome components. Fortunately, in this case, you get used to it quickly. The beautiful thing is that you do not have to use the touch screen if you do not want to but, if you do, it may make life much easier since it is more intuitive and user-friendly.
As some reviews have stated, this game is definitely aimed at more hardcore fans. Fortunately, the tutorial system here is the most complete we’ve seen on the DS platform since Yu-Gi-Oh: NT (an otherwise mediocre title). I found myself having to actually try against what should have been free wins at the first difficulty level. There’s definitely one heck of a learning curve in this game and the challenge cannot be denied. The elitists of the dueling world will say that the challenge level is “average” but don’t be fooled: AI players or not, this is one challenging game!
If you are new to the series, Tutorial Mode is a must! I think the hardcore difficulty level to boot can be a turn-off to new and returning players alike but, again, you do get a good deck so you stand a chance. That leads me to another gripe: it’d be nice to be able to choose a Starter Deck like in some of the other games. I dislike cookie-cutter duelists and hate being made into a one-trick dog. To me, the fun in dueling is being adaptable, which is what the theme duels, limited duels, and duel puzzles train you to do.
My other gripes are very tiny things. I didn’t find the interface as fluid as previous ones. Nintendo World Report hit the nail on the head when they said this is a very in-depth game, perhaps too much so. It can be overwhelming for even hardcore fans. My advice: stick it through and play in small doses; eventually, you get addicted if you really get the strategy down. I’m all about strategic gaming so, needless to say, I am hooked!
My other big gripe is that, unlike Yu-Gi-Oh! Online Duel Evolution, the DS Game makes it easy to get any card you want by using codes/passwords. When you play online, you’re likely to get owned by someone that plays the game 24/7, has “cheated” to get all the cards, and has a very cheesy deck. Such duelists would probably lose badly if they were forced to play with certain rules and, fortunately, you can set such rules; even so, it can be very humiliating, as the folks at Nintendo World Report pointed out. Personally, I am not an overly-competitive person so I don’t mind crushing defeats; I just learn and move on, but not everyone is like that!
The key to online play is to make some friends. Find people that are good sports as they will make the game more fun, win or lose. Personally, I always adjust my decks and try new things out, so I give people a chance to win, even if I have previously demolished them. I don’t have a specific style so I keep both myself and my opponents on our toes! If you are a one-trick dog, you may want to learn some new tricks before going online.
As I mentioned before, the game has the same core mechanics as other WC installments but it is definitely a unique game on it’s own. The basic premise is as follows: you battle duelists and, by employing Spell, Trap, and Monster cards, you win battles and DP (Duel Points) which you can then use to buy more cards. As you win more duels, your deck evolves, allowing you to take on tougher duelists. In 2007, Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship has dropped most of the RPG elements and made it more of a pure TCG (Tradeable Card Game) than before. The Free Duel system is all about taking on different types of decks and developing counters. As you win more battles, you unlock more modes and challenges, including a Recipe Duel mode that allows you to battle against your own deck builds and see how well you can counter them. This feature is a brilliant way to see the flaws and weaknesses of your own decks on both sides of the fence, so to speak!
…And now for my personal cheers-and-jeers game analysis…
- Full character/duelist customization – create your own unique look!
- Wi-Fi play – challenge players all around the world!!
- Import cards, accessories, and duelists from previous games (Spirit Caller and Nightmare Troubadoor for DS).
- Various duel challenges, sorted by difficulty, including Limited Duels and Duel Puzzles.
- Pre-game lobby and voice chat system.
- Customizable fixed test (just like old-school Scorched Earth).
- Recipe Duel mode now allows you to challenge your own deck builds!!
- Over 20 major languages to choose from.
- Over 1600 cards available in the game!
- Downloadable content including new challenges, recipes, and duelists (computer players).
- Enhanced DP distribution system, based on various win conditions and overall performance.
- Tons of customization options, deck management tools, and play modes!!!
- Save up to 120 different deck recipes!
- Boring music and choppy 3D graphics bring down an otherwise perfect game.
- No storyline. May bore those that can’t read books without illustrations.
- The many options can be overwhelming for new players.
The game was just released worldwide on May 20th of this year and already there is downloadable content for it. New puzzles, deck recipes, and more are available via wireless – Nintendo WFC FTW! I am sure I missed some other key features but those are the ones that have really struck me. Mind you, I just got the game a few days ago and, though I played it upon release, there is so much to it that it is not possible to capture it all in one review (this game is BEEFY); I need more time to dig deeper and become a Yu-Gi-Oh! zombie warrior all over again. O_O
As a seasoned duelist, I find the various new deck filters and queries very convenient and brilliant. Now you can easily identify which cards are related and sort cards out by Type, Attribute, Level, Attack, Defense, Phrase/String (i.e. Gravekeeper, Elemental Hero, etc.), and so much more. This definitely has more deep card management than any other Yu-Gi-Oh! game I have played heavily. With 120 recipe/deck save slots, you have plenty of room to experiment with various builds and strategies, allowing you to become a much more well-rounded duelist.
After my first few duels, I noticed a trend in how DP was rewarded. Apparently, this game favors old-school duelists (ah, I remember the days when you didn’t have all these five-round cheese decks and unstoppable/invincible monsters). If you win battles using straight beatdown strategies, you are awarded heavy bonuses. Here are some of the bonuses in the game and how much DP you can get from them:
- Duelist Bonus [ Varies depending on whom you play against. ]
- New Bonus [ 50+, In multiples of X base number (typically 50). ]
- Destroy in Battle Bonus [ 16+ ]
- Max Damage Bonus [ 6+ ]
- Battle Damage Only [ 5+ ]
- No Limited Cards Deck [ 5+ ]
- All Monstr Card Zone [ 5+ ]
- Reversal Finish Bonus [ 5+ ]
- No Special Summon [ 3+ ]
- Max ATK Bonus [ 3+ ]
Please note that the amount of DP you get also depends on how challenging the battle is. As you progress in challenge levels, you’ll notice more DP is awarded. Most of the bonuses are pretty self-explanatory but some of them are a bit elusive so try different strategies and see what triggers what. One trend to note: those duelists that can come from behind and win in a pinch are awarded big points, especially if they end up doing massive damage. Try winning duels without Special Summons, restricting cards, Limited Cards, and things of the sort – it’s really tough!
All things considered, I give this game a 9 out of a possible 10 – meaning it is worth the purchase. The hidden fanboy in me wants to give it a 10 or at least a 9.5 but, to me, the password system makes for some really imbalanced duels online. Fortunately, you can automatically search for duelists based on their ratings and region, which makes it a little less intimidating for people with non-cheesy decks. I know that this is a game that will grow onto me the more I play it so I look forward to getting some real grind sessions going. Game on – w00t!!!
Moving onto Pokemon Pearl, I must say this: I was surprised to see so many lackluster reviews regarding this most recent Pokemon installment. Many reviewers seemed to make it seem like the game was just the same thing as it’s predecessors with some “little touch-up’s” and Wi-Fi play added. As you’ll hopefully see from this review, such folks probably do not like the Pokemon franchise to begin with so their reviews are pretty worthless. =oX
The lack of advanced graphics and seemingly haphazard/not-so-seamless presentation, regarding the GUI in particular, seems to be a sore point for reviewers. If you ask me, the fact that they are keeping the game’s old-school favor is brilliant. The graphics are definitely a little more than “slightly updated” and the interface is probably cleaner, sleek, and more user-friendly than it has ever been. I’d say this is the epitome of classic Pokemon action in a more polished, complete package. I found it very intriguing how they used 3D graphics in this one without taking away from the “grass roots” feel of the game, a thing that I think retro and old-school gamers alike really appreciate. Of course, it’ll only be so long before they budge to the pressure and put in some real eye candy. It’d be nice to have real Pokemon sounds, instead of the screeches, though they have grown onto me… *mumble*
The launch of Pokemon Pearl & Diamond for the Nintendo DS marks the beginning of a new era for Pokemon, a franchise that has over ten years under the belt. With the launch of these milestone games comes the new cartoon and the soon-to-come Wii game. As expected, these games have been tightly-integrated, showing Nintendo’s dedication to their loyal fans. The cross-platform support is quite seamless except for the fact that, once again, you have to collect friend codes before you can really tap into the online Pokeverse; fortunately, this is an inconvenience that we have all become accustomed to, hence why many Nintendo DS Friend Code Lists have started up, including one right here on DuelPassOnline (COMING SOON)! Whatever your feelings for Pokemon may be, this is all the buzz in hardcore gaming communities worldwide.
I will reiterate that the reviews have not done the game much justice. They mostly make it seem like it is like the preceding games but with “slightly better” graphics and gameplay. It’s a lot more than that. This is easily the most-immersive Pokemon experience on any platform. For those that have been dismayed by the lack of [substantial] storylines in the Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Colosseum, and soon-to-come Pokemon Battle Revolution (Wii) games, rest assured: this one has more of a story. The story should be very familiar for seasoned Pokemon trainers but there is enough new content to keep things fresh!
From the onset of the game, you are sucked into action-packed duel after action-packed duel. Your buddy and friendly rival, I named him Butters (yes, after South Park), joins you for some battles then runs around, trying to beat you on your quest to “catch them all” – it’s your job to make sure you’re the first one to become the best trainer in your town and all of Sinnoh! In this game, your starting Pokemon selection is quite distinct. No Charizard, Bulbasaur, Pikachu, etc. in this one, at least not to boot. Fortunately, if you happen to have Pokemon Sapphire and other previous games, you can import your Pokemon once you obtain the National Pokedox – that means your previous efforts were not wasted!
Here are some of the features that I think really stick out in this release:
- Compete in new types of contests including the new dance competition!
- Dress up your Pokemon, take photos, and share with friends!
- Movie cameo monsters now debuting on the game: Lucario, Munchlax, Weavile, and more!!
- Over 100 new Pokemon join the roster in this installment.
- Pokemon Ranger players can unlock special content… What, I don’t knowbut it must be good!!!
- Trading and playing with friends is now better than ever with Wi-Fi play modes!!!
- Pokemon now have more than one type, adding more depth to the game.
- New special moves have been added to the game as well as retooled favorites!
- Pokeblocks have been replaced with “Poffin”, though they accomplish about the same thing.
Many of the jaded gamers say that the game falls short of expectations because it doesn’t push the system’s limits and it has that “been there, done that” feel to it. I can understand the frustration but I think that the goal here was not to be lazy or rush the project but, rather, keep the game as true to the series as possible – this game brings everything around full circle! For the eye candy and moving tunes, we can turn to the Nintendo Gamecube and, soon, Nintendo Wii installments in the Pokemon series.
If you look at the sales numbers, it seems that Pokemon Diamond is selling more than Pokemon Pearl. Most will tell you that the games are exactly the same except for the ultimate/ultra rare Pokemon you can capture. The truth is that the version you own changes how often certain Pokemon show up and, in some cases, where they show up. For this reason, I got myself Pearl since most of my friends have, you guessed it, the Diamond (people sure do like those shiny things) version of the game. This should make for some good trades in a few weeks or so, depending how much my work schedule allows me to play!
Believe me, I was apprehensive when my friends insisted that I simply had to get this version of the game. I mean, I still play Pokemon Sapphire (Pokeblock mixing is sooooooo strangely addicting) and enjoy it just fine. Horror stories about Pokemon Mystery Dungeon made me skip out on a few tempting DS titles. The good news is that this game can definitely hold your attention, even if you are not nine years old; of course, if you suffer from ADD, ADHD, or whatever they want to call it today, you may want to skip this game. The grind of the core RPG mechanics can never be completely avoided but, fortunately, there is enough content – stories, side quests, contests, and other diversions – packed into the game to break up what could become very monotonous gameplay.
One of the very neat additions to the game is how they expanded upon the secret base concept from previous games. You can still decorate your base as you did before but, now, there are play modes that revolve around your base. One of the modes involves you setting up traps to keep people from getting to your base while you search for the secret bases of other nearby trainers. It is a more complex game of hide-and-seek. As juvenile as it may seem, I know a few twenty, thirty, and even forty-somethings, myself included, that find themselves charmed by the deceptively simple gameplay. I think IGN puts it well in their “zero hour” Pokemon Diamond & Pearl review:
“For a game that’s literally sold countless millions of copies over the past ten years, it’s pretty amazing to discover gamers who have yet to experience what Pokemon is all about. Under its kid-friendly, thick sugary coating lies a deceptively deep and addictive design that encourages players to create collections of highly marketable creatures of various species.”
If you haven’t tried Pokemon in the past, possibly because some fanboy or annoying kid ruined it for you, give it a whirl. Ask around and see if any of your friends have the game or are willing to get it; after all, the online play gives you more features to enjoy. With the Wi-Fi features that have been packed in, this one is all about replay value. If you own a Nintendo Wii, the coming game will be integrated heavily with Pokemon Diamond & Pearl so it’s worth the investment!
Back to the story! The storyline in this installment is a little different than in previous Pokemon games. Instead of dealing with Team Rocket and their incessant efforts to steal the best Pokemon, including your own, you are up against Team Galactic. It seems that they have discovered a connection between Pokemon and alternative fuels, so they are looking for specific Pokemon in order to corner the market and overthrow the government. Well, perhaps I made up some of those details but you get the point!
One thing I like about any good video game is the addition of easter eggs, side quests, and non-linear content. Easter eggs are those little hidden treats that make us feel very fulfilled when we discover them without the use of a strategy guide, spoiler, or anything of the sort. What makes this the deepest Pokemon game yet is the ability to take on random challenges, play online, and interact with your Pokemon on different levels. Surely, if you are just in it to beat all the gym teachers, you will get around 80 hours of pay time, at least. If you want to build up unique Pokemon, unlock the secrets, catch them all, and interact with live trainers, there’s tons the game has to offer you.
A few words of warning regarding the Wi-Fi play: as I already alluded to, this game is like many other DS titles in that it does not allow you to interact with random gamers. In Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, you can’t even enter Nintendo WFC without a friend code in your roster. Fortunately, they make it worth your while by adding voice chat and an optional headset peripheral (sold separately), but it can still be annoying trying to exchange all those friend codes. This quirky approach to online gaming is exactly why there are countless sites for sharing Nintendo WFC Friend Codes (read on for more information on that – we list some sites at the end).
I have much more to uncover in this game but, from what I’ve enjoyed so far, I’d give this game a score of 9.5 out of a possible 10 because, as cliche as it may seem, I am hooked and I simply can’t think of really bad things to say about the game! The content has been enough to keep me up in bed for hours on end and even has motivated me to pick up Pokemon Sapphire again (it was collecting dust for a while). Driving gamers to play from game to game is a key strategy in keeping this franchise thriving. One has to wonder what more they can do with the game and I think the first major Wii installment will soon answer those questions. That’s quite the tall order to fill…
Check out the following gaming communities for friend codes and more…