Just when you thought that Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! would be everything that the kids wanted, a newcomer has come along to challenge them at their own game.  Duel Masters is a relatively new card game created by Wizards of the Coast.  Wizards of the Coast is also responsible for Magic: The Gathering, so they should know a bit about making collectible card games.  The game has become very popular, and has a cartoon tie-in on Cartoon Network.  Now Atari has released their second game based on the card game, Duel Masters: Kaijudo Showdown.


DM: KS plays similarly to the original Duel Masters: Sempai Legends and the Yu-Gi-Oh! games The Sacred Cards and Reshef of Destruction for the GBA.  You start out as a kid who inherits a card deck from his college-bound brother.  As you head out, you meet someone who helps you learn the rules of the game.  Then you go out and duel others and win cards by defeating them.  Some characters from the cartoon make an appearance as expected.

The graphics aren’t anything special in DM: KS.  Granted, the GBA is not the powerhouse that the home consoles are, but the graphics do have some issues.  First of all, the characters only have a few frames of animation during the time you are walking around.  The backgrounds are colorful, but they are also rather solid colored.  There is a bit of shading, but a bit more detail could have gone into the backgrounds.


When selecting cards to use, the screen only shows a background of the color and a few numbers about the characteristics of the card.  The battle screen that contains the creatures and the shields is a nice way to show the cards played, but it’s difficult to distinguish the difference between some of the monsters out on the field.  Each character seems to have one or two frames of animation for battling.


Finally, each real card has a nice graphic depicting the creature brought into battle.  On the card information screen, the graphic from the card is so small that you can’t even tell what it is trying to depict.

While the graphics for DM: KS are disappointing, the sound is pretty good.  While you aren’t going to be humming the tunes, they do set the mood for the game.  It is a nice rock mix that will try to get you pumped for the duels.  During the duels, each action triggers a sound.  The sound gives a nice clue as to what action is happening on the field. There isn’t much you can mess up as far as control goes on a game like this.  Movement is done with the D-pad.  A selects items while B cancels actions.  During the duels, L allows you to view the battle zone, hands, mana, and the graveyard.  R summons the creature or casts the spell.  Select shows the card details.  Start brings up the options menu which also allows you to save the game.

The main portion of the game involves the dueling.  Anyone who has played Magic: The Gathering should have no trouble with the concepts in Duel Masters.  At the beginning of the game the top five cards from the deck are laid down in front of the player as shields.  Once these shields are destroyed, and the player is attacked once more, the duel is over.


In Duel Masters, there are basically two types of cards, creatures and spells.  These cards can either be placed in the battle zone or the mana zone.  If a card is placed in the mana zone, it will generate mana to summon the creatures or cast spells.  The mana is regenerated at the beginning of each player’s turn.  The creatures placed in the battle zone must wait one turn before attacking the other player.  Creatures that are untapped (basically haven’t been used), can attack the opponent’s shields or a tapped monster.  The creatures that have higher strengths generally require more mana to summon, so it will take some time to get enough mana to summon them.  Each creature is also associated with one of five colors or “Civilizations.”  To summon a creature or a spell, at least one of the mana used must be the same color as that card.


While that is the game in a nutshell, there is a much more tactics to it.  Do you place that creature into the mana zone, or do you keep it in your hand and try to summon it later?  Do you attack with this creature, or do you save it to block during your opponent’s turn?


The game contains about 300 cards.  Unfortunately, a lot of the useful information is on the card information screen.  You can access it easily by hitting Select, but it takes a second or two to bring it up, which really slows the game down.  However, with only about 300 cards in the game, it shouldn’t take too long to be familiar with all of them.  Unfortunately, the lack of variety in the cards can lead the game to feel the same.


Also, the game isn’t all that challenging.  After learning the rules and the strategy to the game, it doesn’t take long to become good at the game.  The game doesn’t become much more than card management.

The game does have a lot of replay value if you like playing this game.  You can duel almost everyone you meet.  Some will have some comments about their deck or what to do in the game, and there is a story that goes along with it.  However, it is a good way to learn how the game plays without spending hundreds of dollars on cards.


The game does have the ability to link up with another player and trade cards and play games against each other, but if you both have decks, this might seem a bit unnecessary.

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