Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Game Review: Duel Masters

I figured that as long as I have the blog and as long as I need something to rant incessantly about, it might as well be something that other people don't already do. As webcomics are in a clusterf*ck market because 1) they are free and 2) everybody and their retarded uncle seems to have deemed themselves patrons of the arts and as such have given themselves the right to say "Screw you people making a contribution to society, I'm going to shit on your dreams right now" I really have no desire to review them and I am too damn cheap to review video games unless somebody would be pleasant enough to send me free games so that I can finally get something good for the Wii (hahaha.... >:( ). The choice lead me to one of my loves of the past that everybody has experimented with at least once, trading card games. I, as I have said before am a member of the 5 Blessings Church of Magic the Gathering. The game to me is the pinnacle of perfection and I am rarely distracted long enough by other TCGs to give a damn about what they have to make them special.
My first choice for a game review is a short lived game series known as Duel Masters which like almost all Japanese cards games, seems to have a show based around it. I myself was introduced to the game by a suave Wizards of the Coast representative who lured me to his table with promises of free Wizards of the Coast stuff about four or so years ago. At the time I was visiting with friend and had nothing better to do so I obliged the offer and sat down. Then the suck started.
One of my main problems with TCGs is when they require you to have a mat. Mainly because it means its just one more piece of crap that you have to remember as you run out the door. That and it's another thing game companies can charge you to buy since they are all made of paper. Luckily Magic never required you to have one (but Portal Second Age did include them in the boxes.) Anyways, looking at the mat that I have retrieved from my room, I see that it is actually very simple and not even required- unless you happen to be the sort of person who enjoys having to chide at people for putting their cards in the wrong areas. Seriously, stop mixing your Magic lands and flipping your cards upside down so I can read them. I learned how to read upside down for a reason and you can stop being such a pussy and do the same thing for you .....but I digress. The mat is divided (and color coded) in five areas, the Battle Zone (god, now the anime theme song is burning in my mind with a drunk Bobcat Goldthwait saying "Get in the Battle Zone." Damn my amazing imagination and memory skills) the Shield zone, the Mana zone, and then the Deck and Graveyard zones. The mas list the steps of the turn and how to tell creature cards from spell cards. If nothing else, the mat has a nice design. 'cept for black-haired YuGiOh. Also kudos on easy turns.
The game essentially follows the generic, destroy life points to win formula that pretty much all trading card games have now. In this game, life points are represented by Shields which are face down cards that your opponents destroy in hopes that after doing that, you don't get a card you actually need (think of that ante crap from Poke'Mon or whatever it was). Essentially you play creatures or spells as lands to pay for spells to bash, bash, bash. The game is fairly balanced in gameplay from the hundred or so cards that I've gotten (I won a deck for beating the Wizard's rep. and then bought a pack or something.) Its one of those that like it or not, it will be hard to make a perfect combo deck as there is a high level of game balance which I like because old and new players are on equal footing and because not everybody is left playing one color or another in tournaments (if they ever had them).
My main gripes, if any, come from the fact that it doesn't take itself seriously. That and the fact that it petered out after a few years making those $20 cards that you were hoping to have appreciate in value suddenly lose all worth. When a game can't take itself seriously in the right amounts and areas, the only thing able to save it is legions of idiotic fanboys which Duel Masters lacked as it was a cable show (I didn't have WB when it was on so I can't be sure) and because it was already facing the established YuGiOh and Poke'Mon TCG markets. Overall I would say the game is actually almost as good as ....Shit. I need some nerd rage here. Okay, the game is essentially Magic the Gathering for newbs from the colors of the tribes being the same as the colors of Magic the Gathering (red, blue, black, white and green with multicolored and some noncolored) with the colors following the same ideas (red= agro, blue = draw cards etc). The main differences are easier combat, simpler playing and the lack of a need to drop $50 to make a good deck. And you can use any card as a land.
Overall the game was one of the better short lived TCGs and probably would have become more popular if it was a basic network cartoon as it tried for humor and had character development -according to Wikipedia at least- and it was the right amount of innocent and adult. Sadly as I said before, the lack of a fanbase killed the game and so now I've gotta go sort Magic cards for a peasant draft.
For future game developers, take a leaf out of this games nature-folio, keep it simple, easy to play and balanced and you can have a good game.
Next time, watch me try and cope with dropping money to test out Bella Sara.

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