Well this takes me back. To the good and bad times of high school where Yu-Gi-Oh dominated the world. Other card games were there but it was all Yu-Gi-Oh. Anyway Duel Masters. I remember a review referring to this game as the more Edgier Yu-Gi-Oh with monsters that look like they came directly from hell as opposed to the other's rather childish look.
Well they're not totally wrong. I mean at least back then. Now Yu-Gi-Oh looks like it's adapted a rather edgier look with its monsters. Anyway. If you look at this game you'll probably say WTF was that guy smoking. This game's graphics, story, and heck everything fell rather lack luster. Like this game definitely should be better. It comes out in the middle of the PS2's life and it looks like this. Well Atari wasn't really that focused on appearances, story, and music. The gameplay is actually pretty good. Which they generally focus on when it comes to games.
Okay so in the style of a Newgrounds Flash Animation (No offense to Newgrounds users). Some random lady initiated a ritual stating that by doing this she can take over all 5 realms without even having to duel. Well I guess she never read her children's card game handbook cause whatever the hell you're doing that involves a children's card game. You have to play a card game or it doesn't work. Needless to say her ritual backfires and makes all 5 realms (Fire, water, earth, light, & darkness) go haywire. Knight (or is it Night) is told by these ancients that he needs to gather 5 duelist to win the 5 colors tournament and hopefully they'll be good guys and put the realms back in order.
So later 5 stereotyped kids are sitting together and Knight shows up to tell them that they'll be invited to a special tournament. But first they must train and other stuff.
When I say Stereotyped kids. I mean some serious stereotypes are pushed here. You have the kid with an over-active imagination that's way too perky for no reason. You have black guy that's pretty much as far as a stereotype black dude can go in an E rated game. You got the lonely guy that's picked on. A girl that's way too nice for her own good. And you have the goth kid. These 5 are the characters you play as. Each having there own stories but it all plays the same.
Anyway once I get started I selected the kid with the over-active imagination. From what I remember fire type cards play pretty well especially when you're just starting out. Not to mention they have probably the most badass looking creatures. So this kid starts out by daydreaming that he's winning a tournament in complete anime style. That is until his mom snaps him out of it and has him finish his chores. He's then told that he was invited to a tournament and you have to meet Knight at the park.
I get to the park and Knight just like the anime is completely useless and only tells you what you need to do before disappearing. He says that I need to duel a bunch of people to get my skills and my reputation up before I go to the next mission. I duel about 3 guys whooping them all easily and well nothing...cause I'm supposed to go to a different place and duel a particular person. I stopped here for now for a good reason. Not cause the game's boring. (it is kinda) I'll explain later.
Okay I don't really have issues with graphics. I mean people these days focus on the lame stuff like 60fps, 1080p. etc. Well these graphics are all over the place. Remember Chaotic, that card game that died after like 2 years? Remember how the anime at first looked like a flash movie. Then finally turned anime giving certain characters makeovers. Well Duel Masters on the PS2 is the former half of Chaotic and maybe worse.
Like I said the opening looks like a Newgrounds flash animation. But then the graphics get well...spotty. The 3D sprites are rather ugly. And this is coming from me of all people. I should give it some leeway. I mean its a PS2 game. But to give you guys a frame of reference as to how bad the 3D graphics look. Look at Yu-Gi-Oh: Forbidden Memories' 3D graphics. That game has some 3D graphics when you press the button to load up monster attack animations for some of them. Well that's how this game is.
It doesn't help that the creature on the card looks completely badass. But when you show it on the game. You'll likely go..."Oh... :( " The reasons I bring this up. First off the GBA version of the game despite its obvious limited graphics actually look pretty good. It's no Golden Sun. But it does a good job. 2nd the anime itself. I remember as a kid when I watched the anime whenever I could I always couldn't wait for the monsters to show up and attack. Here I get really disappointed.
Whenever you attack the game plays the animation for the monster attacking and it's rather lengthy. Not only that but imagining the monsters when I see them on the card and then to see there 3D animation play it severely brings down the badass factor. I summoned some Triceratops like monster that looks really awesome on the card....when it attacks...It turns out it's an anthro-Triceratops riding a child's scooter. You know the ones that used to be advertised as they'll be far cooler than a bicycle or skateboard and even have a spark maker to make yourself look "cool" in front of all your friends.
|Okay this looks badass lets summon it!|
|Oh...(This is one of the better looking ones. There's ones that look way worse than there card comparisons)|
Probably the silliest thing about the graphics is the character animations when they lose the match. It's like they tried to copy Yu-Gi-Oh or some other card game where the duelist in real life would more or less pretend to get hurt by the monster's attack. But instead it looks like they either didn't want to commit to it all the way. Or that they got knocked senseless in a schoolyard fight.
This is a major letdown for me. I'm rather optimistic cause I would like to see this game get updated or at least have the 3D sprites redone by a random fan.
Okay...what music? This game takes on the Japanese style of making use of music. It's either very quiet to try and give a sense of the environment or there's none at all to help with the mood. I don't mind this but the music selection sucks! I mean even YuGiOh gave me something good to listen to while playing. The most you'll get is hub world and menu screen music. Then during battle you can hear some music and its generally related to who you're fighting. But its low and nonexistent. Then when you attack the game plays a bit of a guitar riff that doesn't even last long enough considering how long the attack animations are.
Yeah bring in your own OST and play it over this game. Even with the cutscenes cause they're all more or less short and unnecessary.
Well the game more or less makes up for it here. First off there's a difficulty setting. Something other card games need. Then you have 2 different modes you can play. Standard or Extreme mode. Standard plays like your typical card game. You each take turns. Extreme mode goes past that and turns it into there own version of Final Fantasy's ATB system. Instead of effects lasting for 1 turn or so they last for a certain period of time. And your monsters have a cooldown as to when they can attack.
Deckbuilding isn't too hard. The menu is organized well enough to navigate it easily. The game auto-saves after almost everything as well. Which can be a good or bad thing. Overall the gameplay is good. But I wish there was an option to turn off the animations. I really only want to see them once when I do it for the first time and maybe a 2nd time if the attack is significant enough.