YU-GI-OH! LEGACY OF THE DUELIST Review: It’s Time To R-R-R-Reminisce

Yu-Gi-Oh! was very much a cultural zeitgeist, with kids begging for fresh cards every time they happened to pass a display. It’s hard to believe that at a time, this card game was advertised on national TV. Make no mistake, Yu-Gi-Oh! was huge.

The keyword being was. While many of its core fans having moved on, their cards sold off or gathering dust, Yu-Gi-Oh! as a franchise kept chugging on. From the completion of the original series, they created GX, 5DS (you know, the one with duels on motorbikes) Xexal, and, currently, Arc-V. Now, as the anime plummets in quality and the animation gets increasingly lazy, it’s easy to scoff at the card’s game as pointless tat for kids, like that Beyblade nonsense we were all obsessed with for a while.

Not so, the core Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has come on leaps and bounds from those early days of the basic Yugi and Kaiba starter decks, where cards had very few effects and the biggest upset you could pull was using Dark Hole on your opponent then using Monster Reborn to bring back their Blue Eyes White Dragon for a free swipe at their life points.

Now, we’ve got an incredibly advanced Fusion Summoning system, we’ve got Synchro Summoning, we’ve got XYZ Monsters (not like the robots, but new, fancy black bordered cards) and most recently, we’ve added Pendulum Summoning. Now for the returning prodigal duelist, it can be a lot to swallow, and all these new cards, abilities, and card types are nearly impossible to navigate. Luckily, Legacy of The Duelist takes you through it with incredible finesse.

My Grandpa’s Deck Has No Pathetic Cards, Kaiba…

Legacy of The Duelist takes you through every single major duel of the main arc Yu-Gi-Oh series’. From the opening introduction to duel monsters of Yugi versus Joey, right up to the final showdown against Yami Marik, it’s all there. It does the same for the next four series’, and each time a new mechanic is introduced, a little tutorial robot takes you through everything. While the dialogue between duels is truly awful, and the copy pasted art from the anime is ropey at best, it does a great job of helping you relive your favorite moments of the anime and then repeat the battles, dueling vicariously through your favorite characters.

When you clear a duel, you get the chance to play it in reverse, taking on the role of the bad guy. So while we’ve always wanted to grab Yugi’s end game deck and take part in the long-winded battle to defeat Dark Marik and his Egyptian Gods, it’s also very gratifying to play the role of ultimate evil and smash that impossibly coiffed do-gooder. Heart of The Cards, my ass.

This touch point will serve you well as you move through the series’ where the characters are less familiar, but by the time you’ve cleared the main duels, you’ve got a wealth of reverse duels to play through, and there are also a range of challenge duels, and Sealed Battle Deck Draft play. A relatively new addition to the TCG that fits perfectly in video game format. Even if you’re not interested in the cheesy anime and on the nose dialogue, it’s great to have a story to battle along to rather than repeatedly fighting foes without context in a dueling vacuum. As as you battle through the story, you earn currency to spend on booster packs that you can unlock based on characters from each series. The packs are themed to the style of the character, but it’s strange to pull an XYZ monster from Grandpa Moto’s booster. He’d have a heart attack if he saw one of them in real life.

What A Digital Dummy!

Legacy of the Duelist‘s biggest weaknesses are found in the areas you’d expect. It’s just not a very well crafted video game. What few monsters have a 3D appearance only show up to do the same animation over and over again, and the graphics are PS2 era. We’re not expecting The Witcher 3 here, but there’s a distinct lack of effort evident in the monster appearances. The card art is low quality and obscured by a massive Legacy of the Duelist watermark on every single one. It’s like they’re afraid that you’ll try and bootleg the HD art from the game. There’s zero animation in the story segments, and while the background and anime art are sharp and full HD, it doesn’t matter much when they scarcely move.

Elsewhere, the animation and art on the card playing fields is sub par, looking like a game from a decade ago. With it being the part of the game you focus on the most, it would have been great to have a little more polish applied. Across the board, Legacy of the Duelist looks like a lazy HD remaster of a decade year old game. Part of its saving grace is that it’s a relatively cheap download title. A full-scale retail release of this complete but choppy mess would have been a travesty.

The online play can be ropey at times, and the almighty Hearthstone has arrived on the scene in the last couple of years, meaning that online play in card games has really been taken to the next level. Token online play in a game that is so heavily focused on being competitive just doesn’t cut it. If you’re thinking of picking up this purely for online battling, you might be disappointed. It’s plagued by occasional lag that shouldn’t exist in such a resource light game. Happily though, most players are honorable and if they’re beat, they’ll surrender rather than simply quit out. It’s refreshing to see a community that can admit defeat instead of throwing their toys out of the pram. However in some ways, it simply emphasizes what a missed opportunity the middling online is.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist is more than fan service. It’s a complete package, a true love letter to the card game and the anime, and a sign that while the franchise might of slipped out of the wider geek consciousness, there is still life in those little pieces of card just yet. While being the best Yu-Gi-Oh! game isn’t really a high bar to vault over, Legacy of the Duelist is still an admirable attempt to do a franchise and a TCG justice without adding a mountain of micro transactions or milking fans for cards through DLC packs.

If you’ve ever dabbled on the fringes of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, if you were a hard-core fan, or if you’ve always peered in from the outside, wondering what the heck was going on with the spiky hair and all that talk about plastic Egyptian trinkets, there’s no better time to get started.

4 out of 5 stars

4 out of 5 stars


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Categories: Video Game Reviews

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