Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy - GBA - Review
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy is the college of Yu-Gi-Oh! games. The gameplay shouldn't be to unfamiliar to anyone except those who have never before had an interest in the video games or the actual card game. The setting, however, is sort of what would have happened if Ash Ketchum had had the opportunity to go to a special school to become the ultimate Pokemon master and avoid the lengthy journey.
In GX Duel Academy you're the leading character and thus give yourself your name. I chose "BAD," because I thought it sounded [puts on cool Solid Snake voice] "baaaaad." It's funny hearing other players initiate a duel with a character by that name, especially when I lost the battle. But I'm not supposed to talk about that! [Tries to remove this portion of the review. Delete key fails.]
Yu-Gi-Oh! is more about card battles than story, exploration, or any other game element, and GX Duel Academy doesn't waste time making you think otherwise. You join the Duel Academy hoping to become the King of Games, the highest rank that only the best players achieve. With this hope in mind you have to challenge dozens of players – it'll take a lot of wins to increase your rank. There is, however, an immediate incentive for winning duels: DP (Duel Points). DP is the game's currency of choice. With it you can buy (what else?) new cards. Up your deck, beat a few opponents, and repeat the process until several hours have gone by and you wonder where the time went.
Deck editing is a key part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! experience. Introductory cards (the cards given to all new players) aren't too shabby, but when you start facing more skillful opponents, what once looked like a Royal Flush is barely worth one pair.
In between duels you'll notice that the in-game clock has kicked in. When night falls it's lights out. You can take a look at the in-depth tutorial, which explains pretty much every single detail you need to know to get started. You can also save your game and perform other menu functions. Battles, on the other hand, have to wait until the next day.
This being a video game, all you have to do is click the Go To Sleep note to fast forward to the next day. At any time during the day you may exit your dorm room and travel to the other dorms in search of a good battle. Over six locations are available at the start of the game, though not all are immediately significant.
New cards are delivered to the card shop every Tuesday, and exams are taken on specific days (announced in-game). I'm not sure if they're random or - "Hold it, did you just say exams?" GX Duel Academy tests your knowledge with about 10 questions relating to the game and the world of Yu-Gi-Oh. You're given a time gauge – when it empties the question that you failed to answer in time is marked incorrect.
Practical exams are given to test your ability to compete. In these exams you may duel with the Proctor; if you receive a theme prior to battle, follow it and you'll gain extra points.
Yu-Gi-Oh!'s visuals have yet to stand out in video games, but on the whole I was satisfied with what was presented in this edition. GX Duel Academy's appearance is straightforward from the beginning. The menus are crystal clear, even on the pint-sized Game Boy Micro. Navigating through cards is as easy as depressing the D-pad left or right.
Cards are separated into their respective categories, and each category has its own window that pops up when it has been selected. Small icons are used for almost everything on the menu screen, whether flipping through cards or accessing your PDA (the device you use to save your game, send virtual mail to in-game characters, etc.). These icons are made easy with clear text that pops up next to them, so you'll always know what you're selecting even if you can't remember what the arrow symbol means.
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy is the umpteenth game in the series and is not for everyone. It may not be the best choice for newbies either. But if you love the card game and/or at least one of the video games, you'll surely get your money's worth from this title. GX Duel Academy is lengthy, challenging, and surprisingly addictive for a game that's relatively stationary. Exploration is kept to a minimum since all navigation is done via 2D stills. That would typically hurt a game. This one relies on skillful matches, important deck editing, frequent changes (exams, new cards, etc.), and a number of other Yu-Gi-Oh! elements fans will crazy for. Over 1,200 cards are included – those who want to collect them all shouldn't waste anymore time reading this review. They should start now.
Review Scoring Details for Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy
GX Duel Academy is duel-addictive (that is, twice as addictive as other GBA card battle games). The battles are what you’ll expect them to be. The lack of exploration isn’t all that surprising either. I’d like to see a Yu-Gi-Oh! game that’s as open-ended as Zelda or even Pokemon without endangering the integrity of the battles. That’ll have to wait though – till then I’ll be clicking with haste to get to each battle, working hard to ensure my next win is even better than the last.
A plethora of menus and a cornucopia of options made easy with clear graphics and a visually-simple tutorial mode. (Note: this mode does not have to be played. It is purely optional. If you could see me now I am overjoyed and smiling. Hugely.)
Though nowhere near the quality of Nightmare Troubadour on the Nintendo DS, GX Duel Academy has a good soundtrack with moderate sound quality. The simplistic sound effects could use an upgrade or two (or 20).
Having played and reviewed other Yu-Gi-Oh! games, I knew a lot more about the series going into GX Duel Academy. That made it easier to jump right in and start playing. Regardless of my knowledge of the series, this game still turned out to be pretty challenging. The computer-controlled opponents were great at coming up with a deck that made you feel like you missed something. They were great at doings move that made you feel like you should have done something else. It’s that kind of preconceived challenge that makes a game like this addictive – you’ll want outwit your opponent at any cost.
It’s Yu-Gi-Oh! and you’re trapped in a dorm! It’s a new(er) idea, but not an innovative one.
Like the other handheld versions, this one requires that each player has a copy of the game. It also requires the link cable since this is a GBA title.
Worth the purchase if you love Yu-Gi-Oh! I mean really love it. This is a good game, but if you just got Nightmare Troubadour for the DS, chances are that’ll keep you busy for a while. And when it ends you’re not going to want to back to playing a Yu-Gi-Oh! game without a touch screen (come ‘on, you know it’s true). That said, GX Duel Academy is a great title to stick in your Game Boy Micro and carry it wherever you go. Even if it’s not your favorite in the series, surely you’ll have fun whipping out cards on the bus home every afternoon, and enjoy editing decks while Mom edits her shopping list. Like I said, if you really love the series, the rest won’t matter because you’ll have to add this game to your collection.