Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dawn of Destiny Review

Say “Yu-Gi-Oh” and you will have captivated the minds of kids everywhere.  When a craze like this comes along, there is one thing publishers can do…milk it for all its worth.  After a PSone title, a Game Boy Color game, four GBA titles, an outing on the PS2, and a Gamecube entrance, the Xbox gets blessed with some Yu-Gi-Oh action with The Dawn of Destiny.

While the GB and GBA games have been fairly faithful to the card game, most of the other games have tried to incorporate extra rules.  Unfortunately, those rules either completely took away from the simplicity of the original card game or changed the game completely into something other than a card game.  However, Konami decided to make DoD as faithful to the card game as possible, while adding one twist to the game that actually adds to the gameplay.

While the DoD is a card game, Konami has added some nice effects to the game.  Cards are taken from the deck and then moved into the hand.  When a monster is summoned, beams of light emanate from the card.  When a spell or trap card is used, particle effects are emitted from the card.  While life points are taken away, the life point counter shakes.  When a monster card is destroyed, it will disappear with a flash of particle effects.  The background looks like the inside of the Millennium Puzzle, while certain spell cards will change the background to another environment like a forest or wasteland.

During a battle, a 3D rendering of both monsters will be displayed on the screen.  Another particle effect will display the attack.  Once the attack has been completed, if a monster is destroyed, it will shatter similar to the cartoon.  While the monsters don’t actually fight each other, it’s nice to see that Konami put some work into the battles instead of only showing two cards facing each other.

Unfortunately, the cards in your hand look a bit blurry.  Sometimes it is hard to tell what you have in your hand.  It’s not bad, but the space on the screen could have been utilized a bit better.

The menu music consists of an exciting fanfare.  It is disappointing that the main game didn’t use this music during the game.  The music in the game does have an Egyptian theme, but has a ballad-type feel.  This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that it feels more like a lullaby than in-game music.  I little more excitement could have been used here.

The sound effects are effective.  During a battle, the low-pitched whir of a dark magic attack or the slash of claws or a sword marks the attack.  When a monster is destroyed, it will explode with the sound used in the cartoon.  Spell and trap cards have a high-pitched whir sound associated with them.

While you duel against several of the characters from the cartoon, none of their voices are present in this title.  Instead, word balloons will pop up when they are saying something.  This brings down the score considerably.

While the control for this game could simply mimic the GBA versions, the developers added several enhancements to the controls.  While the typical control scheme of the control pad for movement, the A for selection, and B to cancel is used, a few additions are welcome to the game.  The left trigger moves the cursor through the player’s side while the right trigger will do the same on the opponent’s side.  Y will automatically display card information.  However, one of the most useful buttons is the X button.  When a dialogue screen is displayed, then hitting the X button will allow you to drop the dialogue screen and then examine the playing field.

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  That’s what DoD does.  It takes the Yu-Gi-Oh gameplay and converts it faithfully to the Xbox.  You take your deck and duel against an opponent.  If you win a duel, you win cards to your deck.  After modifying your deck, you move on to face another opponent.  While there is a storyline, it is very light, and doesn’t enhance the gameplay at all.

Just like the other games, DoD doesn’t include a tutorial.  While this could be understood because of the available space of a GBA cartridge, it is inexcusable for a DVD title not to have a tutorial.  The exclusion of a tutorial hinders the appeal of the game to those who might like to use this to learn the game.

Other problems are apparent at the start of the game.  First, the deck you start out with is full of monsters.  While there is a good balance of monsters, there is a severe lack of magic and trap cards.  I wasn’t able to win many of these cards after my duels.  This makes the deck very dependent on the magic and trap cards you start with, which can be very limiting.

Another problem is that the AI can make some boneheaded decisions.  Some duels were drug out for a while because the AI should have attacked when it didn’t.  I won a couple of duels because they went on for so long that my opponent ran out of cards from their deck.  While I’m glad to win duels, I believe that winning duels should not depend on building decks with better cards and not due to the fact the AI isn’t smart.

Not is all lost though.  DoD does include one innovation that actually enhances gameplay instead of detracts from it, the Triple Duel.  In the Triple Duel, you start out with a certain amount of Life Points.  You must defeat three duelists in a row, each with varying amounts of Life Points.  After defeating one duelist, your life points are carried over to the next duel.  Because of the importance of Life Points being carried over from one duel to the next, the importance of keeping those Life Points becomes more apparent.

Because of the difficulty of acquiring magic and trap cards to improve your deck, you can be playing this game for a while trying to earn the right cards for your deck.  System Link is included with the title, which makes sense, because there is no way to do a “hot seat” option since you have to deal with attacks and traps on the fly.  However, a game like this just screams for Xbox Live playability.  None is offered though, and that’s a shame because that would have added a lot to the game.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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