REVIEW: Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL is an average card battler for casual fans | Culture

While far from unplayable, in the eyes of a seasoned Yu-Gi-Oh! veteran, Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL is an okay-at-best alternative to other mobile card battlers or other Yu-Gi-Oh! games available on the App Store.

Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL is a free four-player card battler game and is the latest spin-off to the long-standing Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. The game was developed by Konami and was released on Sept. 6.

CROSS DUEL features four game modes, the primary one being a 4 Player Match. The 4 Player Match is a free-for-all mode where players start with decks of 20 cards and 4,000 life points. Players battle using a mixture of monster, spell and trap cards until one of the player’s life points have been reduced to zero or the turn count expires. Once one of these conditions are met, the player with the most life points wins the duel. A 4 Player Match can either be played Ranked or Casually.

The other game modes in Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL are Raid Duels – where players work together to defeat a singular enemy, Tag Duels — a single player mode where the player teams up with a classic character from the series’ many anime iterations to duel other characters from the franchise and Room Matches — where players can chat or duel with custom settings. These game modes all use the same basic map and card pool to facilitate gameplay.

One of my favorite aspects of Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL would have to be the game’s aesthetics. The dated futuristic theming of the game’s menus and the slightly kitschy 3D models of the monsters are a perfect encapsulation of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s unashamedly nerdy existence. The sheer awe factor of seeing a mix of anime protagonist ace monsters and other miscellaneous monsters from throughout the franchise evoked a sense of childlike excitement in me.

A feature of the game I am more lukewarm toward is the adaptation of classic monster effects from the regular Yu-Gi-Oh! game to CROSS DUEL. In standard Yu-Gi-Oh!, most monsters have an effect immediately available to them upon a certain condition being met, like being summoned or being destroyed by battle. Since many of the more complicated effects of monsters would not work in CROSS DUEL because of the completely different set of rules, their effects are remade from the ground up and are unlocked via a skill tree.

On one hand, this adds a novelty to the game, as maxing out an individual card’s power level feels like time well-spent to improve the power of your deck. On the other hand, it feels tedious once you have to unlock the best effect of every single card in your deck only to hope that skills do not lose their effectiveness in the future or new cards do not severely power creep the existing pool of cards.

Fortunately, obtaining cards is relatively easy. The current card pool is relatively small, allowing for easy access to all of the game’s cards. This ease of access does have a downside, however. Opening packs until you get the chase cards and loading your deck up with the same few staples as every other player is playing in ranked matches makes deck-building feel rather linear.

This makes CROSS DUEL the most affordable Yu-Gi-Oh! game on the market, as it took me only a mere two weeks to build a competent deck. In contrast, I’ve been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links and Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel for months and still have not had the time or resources to optimize my deck without dropping exorbitant amounts of money.

Of course, there are the Duels themselves. Generally, I enjoyed Dueling. While the gameplay is no doubt a very linear beatdown of the person who is lagging behind, it can still be fun to think on your feet to beat opponents. My main issue with the Duels would be their duration. Games usually last just a little too long to sit down and play between classes or on break during work but are not long enough to dedicate a whole afternoon to.

The game’s pace is just slightly awkward and clunky enough to feel really lopsided, especially when compared to other amazingly paced card battler games like Clash Royale. It also does not help that most of the time I would get kicked out of the free-for-all matches arbitrarily, adding an element of frustration to the game.

For a mobile game, Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL is a perfectly acceptable production; it does not push a ton of boundaries within its particular genre and is accessible to people who remember watching the “Yu-Gi-Oh!” anime as a kid. While I love Yu-Gi-Oh!’s variety of strategies and massive pool of cards, for someone like me, who was in tune with the game for most of my life, CROSS DUEL is a subpar product that does not satisfy most of the aspects of Yu-Gi-Oh! I enjoy.

I would personally recommend playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links for more casual fans and Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel for more hardcore fans over this average-at-best card battler. The selling point of the four-player game mode is at least somewhat enticing, so if a four-player mobile card battler is really in your bag, then maybe Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL is for you.

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