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games > yugioh

yugioh world championship tournament 2004

Of all the collectable card games based on oddly named kids with unrealistically spiky and angular hair, none has been quite as successful as yugioh The little guy and his pals have made the concept of having pictures of monsters come to life and fight each other just as much a part of our culture as Thanksgiving dinner or baring one's breast during the Super Bowl. The Yug-ster is back on the GBA with yugioh World Championship Tournament 2004, and if you're a card-carrying duelist, you might want to hold off on buying a few of the latest booster packs so you can drop the dough on this cart.

Konami has been cranking out yugioh-based games on a pace rivaled only by the late 3DO's prolific extrusion of Army Men games. The difference here, though, is that for the most part -- and especially for the GBA -- the games have all been solid. WCT2004 brings us back to what Yugi does best -- dueling. Unlike Dungeon Dice Monsters or Sacred Cards, which took the whole dueling thing off on tangents, this latest release is all about summoning, setting, traps, and spells.

This is the third dueling sim released for the GBA, and like Eternal Duelist Soul and the epically titled Worldwide Edition: Stairway to the Destined Duel, it's best if you already have some inkling of just what the heck to do before you start whipping the cards around. The instruction manual outdoes its predecessors in explaining how the actual dueling process is supposed to unfold, but it still falls short due to the complexity of the game.

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Quickly, here's what a typical duel entails. You start with 8,000 life points and a deck made up of 40 to 60 cards featuring either monsters or more magical traps and spells. The idea is to use your monsters to attack your opponent and whittle away his life points by defeating his monsters and dodging whatever mystical whammies he tosses your way. That may not sound very sexy, but you should see the way the chicks flock to me once I start spouting off on the relative merits of Empress Mantis versus Summoned Skull.

Newcomers to the dueling scene may want to check out the somewhat maligned PC title Power of Chaos to help them learn the ropes. It's slightly more accessible than any of the GBA carts and playing on a 15-, 17-, or 19-inch monitor as opposed the GBA screen makes reading the cards a bit easier on the eye bulbs.

And you will be reading cards. There are 1,000 ghouls and spells to become familiar with. A lot of them are old faves, but there are over 100 new cards that can be added to your deck. Also new is the way you encounter your fellow duelists. Unlike Worldwide Edition with its Virtua Fighter 4-style map that let you jump from area to area, here you make your way up the ranks by taking on familiar faces from the yugioh universe. Start with the easy-to-whup Tea Gardner and move your way up the ladder. While the set up screens may be bright, shiny, and new, the duels themselves look the same as they did in earlier games. It's not a bad thing. Things are presented clearly and logically, and there really aren't a lot of ways to play around with the Deck Zone layout without losing some of this functionality. After all, this is a game about being able to read really tiny numbers.

One improvement over Worldwide Edition is that you're no longer able to import cards from your own real-world deck into your GBA virtual deck. It was a cool concept -- the idea being that you'd be able to test your deck against the A.I. at any hour of the day instead of being forced to actually hunt down another living, breathing duelist. It made it too easy to cheat, though. As long as you knew the eight-digit code printed on the front of a card, you could own that card in the game.

Konami is still pushing the multilingual aspect of the game -- you can play in Japanese, German, Spanish, etc. The lofty goal, apparently, is that this will finally break down the age-old language barriers that prevented, say, the French and Italians from doing any meaningful dueling in the past. You will want to check out what the cards and their descriptions look like in Japanese kanji, but I seriously doubt you'll end up using your link cable to take on a duelist who might only know German.

Think of yugioh World Championship Tournament 2004 as being like the latest version of Madden. Gameplay is essentially the same as it's been in the past and the only differences are some minor tweaks and an updated roster. In Madden, you get to play as a young hotshot like Michael Vick -- in yugioh, you get to bring it as an evil clown-looking dude with a mess of arms and really pointy teeth. If you played any of the earlier dueling sims and are into all things yugioh, it's time to duel ... again.

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