Solid Card-Based Strategy For PvP, Not PvC
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Decade Duels is the first YGO game available on the 360, and the second card-based XBLA title to be released. Promising a comprehensive catalog of cards and online play, there was plenty to get excited about.
Decade Duels offers some of the best gameplay of a Yu-Gi-Oh! title in its duel system. It feels a lot faster than some of the latest handheld games, and looks good for what it is. The animations are simple, but the game doesn’t require much more. The in-duel menus are also easy to understand and navigate. The text size can be a little small from time to time, especially when you get a card with a lengthy description, but it doesn’t hinder player performance.
When walking away from a duel victorious, the player is awarded new cards to add to his trunk. While this sounds like a good system, I’ve gotten no indication of any rhyme or reason to what cards you receive. And since this is the only way to obtain new cards to upgrade your deck with, it can be incredibly frustrating to obtain key cards needed to make your deck work. You’re forced to use small variations of the initial deck for a long time because you can’t really deck build until you’ve played a lot of single player action. Since packs of cards will be released later into the marketplace, it isn’t a huge surprise that they scrapped the in-game economy present in some of the handheld titles. Unless you’re incredibly patient or don’t plan on entering into online competition, marketplace purchases will be the only reliable way to have any control over building your deck.
Deck building, however, is a very welcome inclusion after its absence in Magic the Gathering’s game on XBLA. You are able to start building your own deck right off the bat, but lack any cards outside of that deck to build with. After a couple of duels, you’ll have some room to start making some choices about what to put in. The deck editor is a little difficult to navigate, and as of this writing, I have no idea how to save multiple decks. The option and possibility is there, but it isn’t apparent by looking around the deck builder.
Single player is painfully short, and lacks any real variety beyond the ten different combatants. And since this is the only way to obtain new cards without writing a check, you’ll be grinding these same decks over and over. Sure, your rank on the leaderboards will go up after every battle, but after a while, that’s a really bad reason to keep pushing the single player game.
Online play is simple, allowing ranked or random matches, but little more. There are also tag matches available, but unless you know someone who plays well enough to build two supplementing decks, pairing up with a stranger would yield terrifying results. Because of the shallow single player game, it’s obvious that the online is the main focus of the title. In all seriousness, unless you plan on playing competitively online, this title really isn’t worth picking up. Building a unique deck and playing online against other unique decks is a lot of fun, and rewards a dedicated grind.
This game has a good amount of issues, but the core gameplay works really well, and the online has a lot of promise, banking on this title catching a little momentum. And while I don’t agree with the choice to circumvent an in-game economy for marketplace purchases, I can understand the reasoning behind it. Fans of the series will find plenty to like here, and fans of card-based strategy games will find healthy competition. But make sure you plan on putting your Gold account to use here.