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Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories

Review By:  Siou Choy

Developer:  Konami
Publisher:  Konami
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Card Battle
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  6-13-02

Formula for success # 1346: Let’s come up with a video game. We’ll base it on a popular card game, which itself is based on a popular anime. Now, I can hear the old fogies among you blurting out "but it’s not Pokemon". Pokemon, as you may recall, was a cheesy anime for kids age 4-8, involving cuddly "monsters" and endless ongoing tournaments, whose main claim to fame was how one episode caused convulsions in youthful fans across Japan a few years back. Somehow (and the actual "how" remains somewhat nebulous to this day) in addition to the standard plushes, toys, video games and licensed merchandise, the marketing pundits managed to cash in by creating a strange, seemingly out of left field Magic the Gathering style card game out of it.  It came complete with cards of varying degrees of "rarity" and obsessive underage (with respect to the card game, almost exclusively male) fans learning the names, powers, and D&D style "point systems" (initiative, health, attack, damage…you geeks know the routine) of over 250 monsters and their various evolutionary forms. 

Instead of saying "wow, that’s screwed up", marketing vultures on both sides of the Pacific were quick to cash in, with cut rate imitations of varying quality: from the execrable Digimon and Monster Hunters (marketed at ADD-afflicted American grade school boys) to the pleasant, if somewhat vapid, Card Captor Sakura (aka "CardCaptors"; marketed primarily to the preteen girl set who were the intended audience for Sailor Moon). The latest version of same is Yu-Gi-Oh (or roughly, "the god of gaming", for the Japanese illiterate), a painful, if generally well animated waste of time aimed exclusively at the (now slightly older) Pokemon set (perhaps a target audience of boys age 8-12).

Even among the unfortunate few who’ve had to suffer through an episode or two of Yu-Gi-Oh, I’m sure there are a lot of you left scratching your heads, wondering just what the hell Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories for the Game Boy Color is all about (or at least why Yu-Gi-Oh, who appears to be the youngest character, speaks with the oldest voice, that of an undisguised thirtysomething yuppie…and that’s not taking into account that hairdo!). Well, fear not! Whether you saw (and could stomach) the anime isn’t much of an issue, since the game has precious little do with the anime in the first place. In fact, the most direct correlation between the two is simply that characters found in the show are represented on the cards.

Essentially, this is the whole shtick: you have to select 40 cards to place in your deck, then challenge a computer opponent to a match. For those who actually sat through an episode or two (like I did, before writing this article, to try to understand what would possess someone to buy a game like this), those opponents include tough girl Mai, not-so-tough street kid-with-a-Brooklyn-accent Joey, and of course, should you choose not to play as him, the "god of gaming" himself, Yu-Gi-Oh.

By winning a match, you can get new cards, as well as one piece of a larger card, which you need to gather and piece together to gain a more powerful "rare" card. Interestingly, though, if you were, by some unfortunate stroke of luck, to lose the match, you wouldn’t lose any of your own cards. To win a match, you must either bring your opponent’s Life Points from 8000 down to 0, have some cards remaining when your opponent’s hand runs out, or collect all the "Exodia" series (card # 17-21) during the match.

Why this game is so painful #1768: You have to beat each character 5 times to advance to the next set of challengers. Now, I can’t speak for all those hardcore Magic fanboys out there, but personally, I couldn’t care less about beating them once, let alone five times.


  • None. Unless, of course, you’re into cultish, fanboy style card games; in which case, you probably just loved Final Fantasy 8 and are a huge fan of the anime. So what the hell are you wasting your time reading this for, Poindexter? Get out there and grab this one quick, before Zeldar the Elf beats you to the mall!
  • If, of course, you are one of those sainted individuals who actually like this sort of thing, Yu-Gi-Oh! may very well be addictive and might likely keep you busy for several hours on end. But don’t quote me on that one.


  • Those not familiar with the series, the Pokemon card game, or Magic the Gathering will probably find this game neither appealing or easy to comprehend. To say nothing of the ongoing phenomena this sort of thing is a part of.

Final Verdict:

I love anime. I really do. I thought some of those Pokemon plushes were cute. I even got hooked on the first season of CardCaptors. But this?

Overall Score: 4.0
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