reviews\ Oct 22, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Yu-Gi-Oh! Power of Chaos: Joey the Passion - PC - Review

Ah, Yu-Gi-Oh, thief of my wallet, taker upper of all of the Mini-Bearer’s free time, host of seemingly endless card tournaments, and bane of this father’s existence.  I am trapped in a Yu-Gi-Oh world, with no hope for escape until the Mini-Bearer discovers that girls really are more fun.  Actually, it’s really not all that bad and I actually have fun dueling with the Mini-Bearer and helping him collect the cards, but there is no denying the ways that this phenomenon has infiltrated my family’s lives.  I shudder to imagine just how much money I’ve shelled out on all things Yu-Gi-Oh.  From what probably numbers over a thousand booster packs, every last starter deck and tin, all five pieces of Exodia, the one-hundred-dollar Japan only God cards, duel disks, not only for Mini-Bearer, but also for any friends that come over because there is just no way to duel without that monstrosity/medieval weapon strapped to rambunctious ten-year-old’s forearm, action figures of all shapes and sizes, the various board and videogames, comforter, curtains, DVD’s, aaaaahhhhhhh!  That’s not even taking into account the time and money spent traveling to tournaments where the Mini-Bearer has gained the moniker of the Yu-Gi Assassin (he’s ruthless, toying with opponents by purposely allowing them to hang around in the matches until he gets bored).  Only once in my lifetime have I ever seen any other child-centric phenomenon get so ridiculously HUGE and far reaching, and that was Pokemon.  And what is most amazing about this phenomenon is that it is based around an extremely complicated card game with an encyclopedia sized instruction manual and the kids are actually capable of not only deciphering it, but also massively enjoying it.  However, the collecting of cards can be a very expensive hobby, especially if you’re trying to purchase the most effective cards for tournament play and this is where the mostly stellar videogames come into play.  Kids can know the joy of wielding the most powerful of cards through the games without investing anything but time after the initial purchase price.  The videogames are also great tools for teaching the game and perfecting real world strategies.  Unfortunately, JTP is a bit of a step backwards for the series, offering a mixed bag when compared to the best games in the series.

Probably the very first thing gamers should know about JTP is that unlike the other games, you have one single opponent to duel in the game, Joey.  JTP’s focus appears to be mostly on teaching the game and exploiting a handful of fairly effective strategies, of which it does do an admirable job.  However, the strategies the game offers are strategies even the most inexperienced game player will pick up by playing the card game a minimum amount of time.  In order to teach the game and the strategies, the game does have a very robust tutorial that would be great for beginners or for parents who simply want to know a little more about the robber of their children’s time.  In all honesty, if I’d had this game back when I was trying to learn the game, I would’ve picked it up much quicker with a much better grasp, but unfortunately this is where the benefits and positives of the game ends.

Beyond the tutorial, you have the option to challenge Joey to either a single duel or a match duel.  The single duel is a single game, while the match duel represents the real world tournament style of play, in that you play a best of three series.  You begin the game with the smallest deck allowable by the rules, forty cards.  The cards that make up your initial deck form a pretty well balanced roster, making it possible to employ various strategies, but the problem is, Joey is playing with a virtually identical deck.  Needless to say, in a short amount of time you are going to become intimately aware with this roster of cards, as well as every conceivable strategy possible with your combination of cards.  Joey represents a decent challenge in the early going and proves to be a good teacher for said strategies, but needless to say, after a handful of matches the challenge steadily declines, especially when you begin to beat him with regularity.  When you defeat Joey, you win a single card from his deck in a single duel and three cards for match duel.  At that rate, it becomes very time intensive to build a better deck with the most powerful/desirable cards, which is worsened by the fact that when you begin to acquire these cards, you will not need them because you will have already become proficient at laying a whooping on Joey.  Unlike most of the previous Yu-Gi-Oh videogames, there is no real benefit in gaining the most powerful cards because you are constantly dueling the same old Joey, employing the same old strategies, with the same old cards.

Screen Shot for Yu-Gi-Oh! Power of Chaos: Joey the Passion

Graphically, the game does exactly what it should and that’s providing an accurate representation of the act of dueling and the cards.  The cards are skillfully recreated in the game, looking exactly like their real world counterparts.  The cards will be instantly recognizable to any duelist, which is all you can ask for.  In a videogame portraying a card game, one cannot expect fancy graphical effects and technological feats.  But then again, for anyone even remotely familiar with this world knows that the cards featuring some pretty detailed artwork and the fact that they’ve accurately rendered them all deserves some props.

The sound in the game is also pretty bare.  The music is neither memorable, nor grating; it’s just kind of there.  The real voice actor that voices Joey on the television show provides Joey’s voice for the game, which is a nice touch, but there’s just not much dialog.  Beyond these things, there’s just not much to comment on.  You get the obligatory sound of cards being shuffled and dealt and that’s just about it.

The game does offer a two-player game, but even this is flawed.  If you want to duel against a friend the only way to do it is across a LAN line, but that is it.  I suppose I can see why they did this because there’s no way that two people could play each in split screen with both players being able to see each other’s hands, but I just can’t envision too many scenarios where kids will be able to duel friends under this set-up.  An online component would seem to have been a natural and very welcome option, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t included.

Finally, my last complaint, which is also my biggest.  JTP is part of a series of three games and like the Game Boy Pokemon games, if you ever hope to have access to all of the cards available, you must own all three games.  This is one aspect that has been thankfully absent from the Yu-Gi-Oh games up to this point and I sure hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.  Granted this is a budget title, but rather than making kids and parents shell out for three games that are virtually identical in order to have access to all of the cards, why not release them as one game at a normal price?  I just think that when developers do this, the message that they’re sending isn’t real good.

Overall, while it’s based on a great and very popular license, this game can only be recommended for absolute beginners.  For gamers that have played the other Yu-Gi-Oh games, there is just not enough here to warrant a purchase.  It does a great job of teaching the game to those who have no idea what they’re about to get themselves into, but that’s it.  It would have certainly been helped greatly by having more duelists to battle, but including only one would have been unforgivable if the teaching aspect weren’t so good.  With that said, the game does come with three pretty good cards, which may be enough reason for purchase from veterans as long as they understand that this game has little in common with the other games in the series.

Review Scoring Details for Yu-Gi-Oh: Power of Chaos: Joey the Passion

Gameplay: 5.0
 In Konami’s previous Yu-Gi-Oh games (save for Duelist of the Rose) they had absolutely nailed everything that fans of the series love about the game.  Numerous, progressively harder duelists with which to battle populate the other games making it challenging and fun.  Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of fun to be had dueling the same character over and over and over.  The tutorial is informative and in depth, but this is the best that it has to offer.

Graphics: 7.0 
The cards from the real world game are accurately recreated here in the game.  The cards look great, which is definitely a good thing since they’re what you are going to be looking at the majority of the time.

Sound: 5.0
Aside from the shuffling of cards, a little bit of music, and the real voice behind Joey, there’s not much hear to listen to.

Difficulty: Easy
While I can see where things would be challenging for newbies at the beginning, there is little to no chance that it’ll stay that way for even the most inept of gamers.

Concept: 4.5
With Konami’s expertise and proficiency in creating compelling, accurate representations of their own card game, this game comes off as more than a little disappointing.  If they had included the gameplay structure of their previous games with this game’s excellent tutorial, then this would have definitely been an excellent addition to the franchise.  But as it stands, there is absolutely nothing here for anyone that’s played the other games, because if they have played them, then they don’t need what little is offered here, outside of the cards that come with the game.

Multiplayer: 5.0

Two player games are only possible with two LAN line connected computers. ‘Nuff said.

Overall: 5.0
The only people that this game could be recommended to, in good conscience, is the absolute beginner, or parents who want to understand their kids’ interest.  However, with numerous excellent games from the license already on the market, most would be better served by purchasing one of them.  You may not learn the game as easily with one of them, but you will learn the game through trial and error, plus you’ll have a compelling and fun game that offers a much fuller experience when you’re done.  The cards that come packed in are good cards exclusive to the game, which may be the best reason for purchase.


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