Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny
Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Card Games/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny is, as hard is it may be to believe, the first Yu-Gi-Oh! game to come out for the PS2 that depicts the actual TCG. The other two games for this system, Duelists of the Rose and Capsule Monster Coliseum, while having the Yu-Gi-Oh! name, weren't in the form of a trading card game. In fact, Duelists of the Rose was a turn-based strategy game that could very well have not had this license attached and Capsule Monster Coliseum dealt with the spin-off miniseries and the game played in those episodes.

Everything about this game hearks to the recent PSP Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Tag Force line of games. Visually, The Beginning of Destiny has the same style both in-duel and out. Characters appear as big-headed, chibi-style versions in a top-down isometric world, and during the duel, the layout of the board and visual representation of the cards are the same as the portable version. While in duels, the look of the characters become much more like their TV-series counterparts, complete with anime-styled action lines going on in the background as they activate traps or flip cards.

Audio wise, there is no voicework, but the energetic music keeps your ears busy while you try to plot out your next moves. There is also an appropriate amount of sound effects while in a battle for placing cards and activating them.

The visual style isn't the only thing about Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny that takes from Tag Force. The premise of Story Mode is that you are a new student at the Duel Academy and you are informed that there is a tag-team battle occurring in about 90 days. Your job is to roam around the island taking part in as many duels as possible in order to get to know and befriend other students and teachers. At the end of the 90 days, you will have to choose a tag-team partner based on who you've gotten to know and then participate in the tournament. Like most of this game, there isn't a lot of fluff to it. Unlike many other Yu-Gi-Oh! titles, you pretty much have just the card game. No extras, no little twists, just play the game as if you were at a real table against a real opponent.

If you aren't familiar with how the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game works, the intro battle does a pretty good job of explaining the basic rules to you and giving you all you will really need to know in order to play against an opponent. However, since you can challenge pretty much anyone on the island in any order, you might want to start off with the lesser characters early in the game if this is all you know. Battling the higher level players (like teachers or people from Obelisk Blue dorm), you are going to need a much better understanding of the game's tactics, rules and strategies.

Free Duel Mode lets you take your deck and play against any of the characters you have met so far in Story Mode. It's pretty straightforward. The Database Menu option lets you not only look at all of these characters, but also the cards you've selected and obtain special items if you connect your PSP with Tag Force 2 loaded up. The last Menu option, Deck lets you edit your deck and design it to be exactly how you want for your next battles.

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny's difficulty is all based on your understanding of the game when you go in and/or your ability to learn the different strategies you will have to pull off while in a duel. After getting out of the tutorial, we decided to go up against one of the hardest players in the game right away. This would be Banner, and it was a tough battle. The opponent used cards that required life point sacrifices in order to attack and other cards that don't allow summons of more powerful creatures. Ultimately, the only way to win the match was to play very defensively and keep the game going until the other character had no more cards to draw from his deck and he was forced to concede.

Granted, had more opponents been faced before going up against this particular enemy, there would be more, or at least different, cards in the deck so the match could have played out sooner, but if you aren't familiar with many of the strategies or intricacies of this game, you might not have known you could wait your opponent out (provided you don't run out of cards first).

Game Mechanics:
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny does a pretty good job of laying out the menus and controls in such a way that you will get a feel for them quickly. You can go to each of the battle phases by tapping the Circle button and navigating to the phase you want to jump to, while the (R1) button is used to move your cursor between your hand and the field, and the (X) button brings up the list of choices you have concerning the card you are hovering over. This is pretty much all you need. When you want to take a card out of your hand and put it on the field, you select the card with (X), and choose whether you want to summon/use it or set it. When you want to mess with a card that is already on the field, just select it and you will be presented with the available list of options. If it is the battle phase, you can attack with it, if it is another phase, you can flip-summon the monster, or activate the trap/magic item.

When your opponent activates a trap, the game automatically asks you if you want to activate one of your traps (provided you have some) in order to create a chain. It is aspects like this that make dueling easier because you might forget, while in an actual duel, that you can chain traps. Though, I do have a couple of beefs - one is the quality of the image of the card even when in "detail view." While this gives you a full list of the text and really everything you need to know to actually play the game, the images on the cards are a lot of the draw, and the pixilated versions just aren't all that great. The other aspect is the game's frequent asking if you want to view the details of a card. I understand this from a developmental point of view. If the enemy places a card on the field, you should definitely let the player see it in more detail, as well as if they flip or activate a card. But I found that I was asked two or three times in a turn if I wanted to view a card. This wouldn't be as big an issue if the default selection was No, but because it is Yes, I found myself tapping (X) and saying Yes, then having to go back out and continue what I wanted to do. I think the best option would be to have Yes be the default until I actually view the card, then any time it wants to know if I need to see if after that, default the option to No. But that was really a minor annoyance.

In the end, I think Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny is a good game for both TCG fans that are new to the title and veterans who know how to play the game while standing on their heads. The tutorial battle does a great job of getting you ready for standard duels, and the ability to challenge a wide variety of opponents in any order means that long-time players won't get bored with the simpler strategy-characters.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.