Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links Review: Addictive Card Game Fun

I rarely play mobile games, unless they’re related to a franchise I already love, such as Pokémon or Kingdom Hearts. Recently, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links was released in the U.S. for iOS and Android, and it’s shaping up to be a fun experience for both older and newer Yu-Gi-Oh! fans alike.

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The player starts Duel Links by choosing whether to play as Yami Yugi or  Seto Kaiba, and whoever is chosen is the player character used until more unlocked . Duel Links has all of the original voice actors returning to reprise their roles. This feature is a nice nostalgia kick at first, but can get annoying after characters constantly repeat the same four or five lines. For hardcore fanatics of the original English voice cast, other phrases can be chosen for the player character to say, although this is still limited to just four or five more phrases.

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The duels themselves are designed to be quicker, having a few differences from the actual card game. Life points are set at 4000,similar to the anime series, rather than the usual 8000. Decks are only 25 to 30 cards, rather than the usual 40 to 60. On the field, there are only 3 monster zones and 3 trap zones on each players side. Duels in this game also don’t have a main phase two, which can  be seen as either a benefit or a drawback. A benefit because it’s exclusion helps make duels faster, but a drawback because there’s only one main phase to set cards down, and it has to be before the battle phase. One of the newer rules which they included was that the player who goes first doesn’t draw on their first turn. It’s a bit confusing on why they added this, since both players draw normally on all their other turns, but they may have just thought of it as another way for duels to be slightly faster.

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Each character has different skills attached to them, such as Kaiba’s skill to always have the Mountain field card activated, or Joey’s being able to start him off with a thousand more life points, with more skills unlocked as characters level up. There are also CG animations when characters summon their signature monsters, which get old after the first time and can be easily skipped. The duels start off easy, but as stages are completed, they get harder and faster. In later stages sometimes duels are even over before they began, leaving the player confused about what had just happened. Bonuses obtained from completing duels, such as  new skills, or cards related to the current player character are unlocked by leveling up, while more modes and options, are unlocked by completing the challenges of the duel school and of each numbered stage .

Still staying true to the classic series as well as Yu-Gi-Oh! GX to an extent, the most advanced forms of monster summoning in the game, at least in the U.S. version, are ritual and fusion summoning. The newer Synchro, XYZ, and the absolute worst, rule changing abomination, Pendulum summoning, are nowhere to be found.

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The main currency used is gems, which are received by leveling up through winning duels, and completing certain challenges. Gems can be used to by booster packs for new cards, which consists of three cards in each pack. Booster packs and gems can also be purchased with real money, but with how easily gems can be earned there’s no reason to. Currently in the U.S., there are only three different booster packs, so there isn’t much variation yet. There is also a card trader, where the player can use coins and/or items obtained from duels to purchase rare and sometimes exclusive cards.

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Duel Links can only be played with an online connection, whether or not playing against AI opponents or PvP. It’s understandable since most mobile games are like this now, but it would be nice to be able to actually play offline as well, for those who may not always have online access.

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But they did give us a cute little maintenance logo

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links Final Rating: 7.8/10

I give Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links an 7.8 out of 10. As I said before, I don’t play mobile games much unless they’re connected to a franchise I already enjoy. Duel Links provides a decent mobile app and a fun game for  Yu-Gi-Oh fans, but has room for improvement. I’d like to see more card variety in the future, and a true offline mode if possible, among other things.

Are you a Yu-Gi-Oh fan? What do you think of Duel Links? Let me know in the comments!

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