reviews\ Apr 28, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Yu-Gi-Oh!: Forbidden Memories - PSX - Review

Over the past couple of years, card battle games have become an increasingly popular hobby among both kids and adults. With various games ranging from Magic : The Gathering to Pokemon to Star Wars, it seems like there’s a little bit of everything out there for anyone who has an interest in collectible card games. Of course, the more popular the card games get, the more video game adaptations hit the market. Recently, PSX has had it’s fair share including a Magic: The Gathering title, Digimon, and most recently … Yu-Gi-Oh : Forgotten Memories which is based on the Japanese Anime title of the same name. To be honest, I’ve never seen the cartoon and had no idea what the game was about, so I called in my 8 year old “subject matter expert” who has absorbed probably somewhere in the quadruple digit hours of anime shows and Cartoon Network. He explained the plot and the basis of the whole thing to me, and I am sad to say that after X amount of long hours and days of playing this game … I still don’t fully understand it. 


The plot of the game revolves around your character, who is prince of the Amenhotep dynasty, who leaves the confines of your comfortable palace to go out among the commoners and play a hot card game called “Duel Monsters”.  The story unfolds in cut scenes and still frame backgrounds with anime characters taken from the animated show of the same name. Interestingly enough, this game is not just some made up fiction title, but is actually based around a game called the “Shadow Game” … which was an actual magic and monsters ritual that was performed in ancient Egypt many millenia ago. It revolved around the prince (Your character) who held the legendary Black Magician and his struggle with a priest who held the Mystic White Beast. As a matter of fact, the instruction manual includes a brief note from Pegasus Crawford (the chairman of Industrial Illusion) who explains the developing idea behind the game. Interesting concept, and I was really looking forward to playing this one since it actually has historic roots to it. That’s where things took a turn for the aggravating.


Starting off, you can select either a “story mode” or just a free duel to sharpen your gaming skills against computer opponents that you have already beaten. The game revolves around a card battle, similar to Pokemon or Digimon, where you place various monsters and spells onto a playing field consisting of 10 spaces. Five up front for your creatures, and five in the back for various spell cards which can be used to enhance the monster’s attack and defense abilities or to effect your opponent’s turn. The monsters can be used to attack the opposing player’s beasts or the player directly, and the battles are done on a simple “attack vs. defend” number combination as to who wins or loses, and monsters can be fused to create more powerful beings (Monster attack is 1500, opposing monster’s defense is 1000, so the attack does 500 damage). If no monsters are present or chosen to defend, the full damage amount targets the player being attacked. The game is over when either no more cards can be drawn out of a deck of 40, or when a player’s life points are depleted to 0. Winning matches results in new cards being unlocked to add to your deck.  Sound simple? Read on …


My first major and the biggest killer complaint of this game is the difficulty. This is a pretty deep game overall, with the various number of monster and spell combinations, but there is no tutorial or practice modes anywhere to be found to help the first time player get the hang of the game. Since I have never seen nor heard of the game at all, I had no idea what I was doing. So, through “trial by fire” method and reading the instruction manual, I finally figured out the basics of the game after about 15 minutes. Now, the progression through the story mode opponents goes like this … easy – easy – easy – impossible. The fourth card battle I attempted resulted in a fight between my character and an arrogant priest of the high temple … so here comes issue #2. Like I stated before, monsters can be fused to make more powerful creatures. The problem is that there is no information anywhere in the game or the instruction manual to explain what determines which monsters can be fused, and which ones can’t. So while my extremely difficult opponent is fusing like 3 cards together and making some really destructive beings, I’m trying to figure out what can go with what and losing a lot of cards in the process. If two monsters can’t combine, one (usually the stronger of the two) gets knocked out of play completely. Needless to say, I was quickly defeated. Now, complaint #3 … losing a battle results in losing the game, so since I neglected to save I found myself back at the very beginning going back through all of the pre game dialogue over again. Anyway, I decided to look on the positive and use this time to try and figure out the fusion thing again with the easy – easy – easy opponents, and found like three combinations. Well, here comes the priest again … but this time I was ready for him with my three fusion combinations. Well, I fused a pretty powerful dragon, which resulted in him making two even more powerful monsters which took my dragon out and them proceeded to kill me in 3 turns. So off went the PSX and off I went to play something else due to frustration until a couple of hours later. Mr. “subject matter expert” came in and tried it for about an hour after I stomped off huffing at it, and came out with the same overall statement … “I can’t beat the fourth guy”. Eventually, I managed to move forward but ran into the same problem over and over again which seems like no matter how powerful the monsters you fuse tend to be, the CPU always manages to do one better. Most of the game consists of saving, trying the same opponent over and over again, then saving, then trying over and over again, etc. Thus, I started calling the game “Yu-Gi-Oh-My-Gosh-I-Am-So-Frustrated-I-Don’t-Want-To-Play-Anymore-Right-Now”.  


Graphically, the game is pretty solid for a PSX title. The animated characters and opponents in story mode are bold and colorful, and the cards and monsters depicted during battles are pretty clean. When going into a fight, there is an option to just have the damage displayed or go into a battle screen where the monsters go at it in full animation. The animated graphics are more pixilated and have some choppy movements, plus it tends to slow things down overall since it goes through a big deal summoning the creatures and then having them move around and attack. Big thumbs up to Konami for giving us the option to just play or go though the full deal. The music, while not spectacular, does a good job in setting a background tone which sets the mood for the overall game experience.


Overall, this game could really be a good addition to the PSX gamer’s library who is a big fan of card battle games or the Yu-Gi-Oh anime series on TV. It has a numerous amount of monsters, spells, and card combinations, so the possibilities of a strong deck are endless. I would ultimately recommend this for either someone who has played the card game before or someone who has a lot of time to go through and write down or memorize the card combos and fusion results, since everything is trial and error. Anyone, like me, who has not seen the show or played the game before will possibly find this extremely difficult and ultimately frustrating overall due to the amount of time which has to be put into searching various card combos and fusions. That is an essential part of moving forward and progressing through the game, so if it’s not done, you won’t get very far. Ultimately, be prepared for a long ride filled with repeated “do overs” … so buy with caution.


Gameplay: 6.1
A really deep game with an interesting concept that can be traced back about 5000 years ago to ancient Egypt. Unfortunately since there is no tutorial or initial walkthrough to help learn the game mechanics and card fusion elements it can be extremely difficult and may cause frustration to be the overall feeling. The gameplay is simple one button presses and is very easy to pick up and play control wise, and the story is linear enough to get you where you need to go.


Graphics: 8.0
Solid and colorful anime characters and interactions with detailed pictures on the cards themselves are really good looking for a PSX title. The 3-D monster animations in battle mode are a little choppy and pixellated, but not bad compared to some other games I have seen.


Sound: 7.5
Not bad at all. The music actually does a good job setting the tone for the scenes and game as it moves along, and is made up of Egyptian sounding melodies. The battle sounds consist of slashing sounds and occasional crashing.


Difficulty: Hard
This game is extremely difficult and very time consuming. Since it throws you right into battling other people with no practice or tutorial mode, the first amount of time will be spent learning the basic gameplay mechanics, then the rest of the time will be used trying to memorize different card combos and fusions. Definitely not for the player who just wants to hop in and go.  


Concept: 8.5
A really interesting concept which is based on historical facts dating back to Egyptian times. It’s similar to Pokemon and Digimon, but also has a lot of differences which make it unique, such as the monsters, fusion abilities, and spell effects.


Multiplayer: 8.0
Definitely the better point of the experience, and can be a lot of fun. Since two people can get on and find combinations, trade cards, and ultimately help each other out, it can be a lot smoother overall.  


Overall: 6.0
A great and unique concept which unfortunately is way too difficult and frustrating to be worth the price of admission for most. Definitely rent before buying or purchase with caution.  

Above Average

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