It’s Time to D-D-D-Duel! A lot! – Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist Link Evolution Review
Developer: Other Ocean Interactive
Card games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories of the hobby involve collecting Pokemon cards, but I never really played the actual game itself. The first time I remember actually learning how to play a TCG was Yu-Gi-Oh. Prompted, of course, after falling head over heels in love with the anime. I still remember watching the episode in Duelist Kingdom where Joey used the Sword and Shield card to defeat the zombie duelist Bonz, only to get some packs later that same day at my local card shop and pulling that card myself. I still have the card to this day. So nostalgia obviously plays a huge part in my love of the franchise. Despite how you may feel about the current state of the real-life card game and anime series, that love is still there for this series through all its ups and downs. One of the biggest parts of my enjoyment of Yu-Gi-Oh was the video games. From Dark Duel Stories on the Game Boy to the yearly World Championship titles, playing the newest Yu-Gi-Oh! game was probably my favorite part of the series and I probably logged more hours playing against the CPU in multiple games than I ever did playing real-life people (and I played a lot in real life too). Unfortunately, during the 5D’s era, the yearly World Championship games ceased production and the Yu-Gi-Oh video games went underground for a long time with only a few titles popping up every now and again.Then came Legacy of the Duelist originally on the X Box One, followed by PS4 and Steam. After being dormant for so long, there was clearly a demand among fans for a new Yu-Gi-Oh game and Legacy of the Duelist filled that need. Overtime DLC add ons eventually included all of the anime up until that point and added cards all the way up to the Pendulum and Link archetypes. After supporting the game for quite a long time, Konami announced that the Nintendo Switch would be getting an exclusive updated version of the game with all of the DLC available right out of the box with the subtitle “Link Evolution”. Having never played the original Legacy of the Duelist, I was looking forward to jumping back into Yu-Gi-Oh games.
If you have ever played any of those older games, Link Evolution should feel right at home, and it sure did for me. The format of the actual duels remains largely unchanged from those older games, and for good reason. The code was cracked years ago, and there is no reason to change up the formula. Cards are played by pressing the A button, you change through different turn phases by pressing the B button, and highlight your cursor over the Extra Deck for special summons like. You can also fast forward through turns by holding the B button and if a timing window is available to play a card the game will let you know and ask if you choose to activate it, making it very hard to miss the timing windows on your cards if you’re paying attention.
The game has several modes including story, which covers the anime all the way from Duelist Kingdom to the very beginning of VRAINS. You can also play online, challenge duelists you beat in story mode in special duel challenges, and a new draft mode to play with friends. You can also, of course, edit your deck and purchase new cards in the shop using in-game currency won by playing the various game modes. The game thankfully has a wonderful search function when building decks, which is absolutely necessary with over 3,000 cards available to collect, and you can even search by types of effects like cards that blow up monsters or lower life points, etc. The only downside is that, due to the limited screen space on the Switch in handheld mode, sometimes the screen can get cluttered with too much information, and it can be easy to get lost. Besides that though, the Switch is the perfect way to play a Yu-Gi-Oh game. Easy and convenient to play whenever and wherever the Switch’s ease of use is perfect for a visually low demand game like Yu-Gi-Oh.
Story Mode is the best part of the game and playing through the entirety of the Yu-Gi-Oh saga was an absolute blast, especially revisiting some parts that are a bit hazier in my memory like the end of GX and 5D’s. Also, having dropped off the anime after 5D’s, it was fun experiencing Zexal Arc-V, and VRAINS for the first time and the game accomplished something I never expected it to. Namely, it made me want to watch the anime again, starting with where I left off after 5D’s. You can play each match in story mode with a story deck made to match, as closely as possible, the cards used in that duel in the anime, or you can use your own custom made deck. But where’s the fun in that? The older decks are bolstered by having newer cards in them and are very fun to play. It is especially satisfying trying to win using the same methods as used in the show. Like beating Kaiba in your first duel with him using Exodia, or using Dark Magician of Chaos to take out Pegasus. After beating a duel in story mode you unlock “reverse duel” which lets you play as the opponent in the duel, and these are some of the most fun duels in the game. Imagining how Pegasus would defeat Yugi, or how Marik could triumph in the end and playing those duels out as such. There is lots of fan service and enjoyment for fans of the anime.
There are a few things that hold the game back from being the ultimate Yu-Gi-Oh game that it has the potential to be though. First is the lack of voice acting. Now it is completely understandable that having full voice acting for literally every major point of every series would be impossible, but having SOME spoken dialogue would have been great, if only just for key moments like hearing Kaiba say “I summon Blue Eyes White Dragon” or an evil laugh from Bakura after activating Destiny Board. But the biggest downside of the game does come from the gameplay side. Since Link Evolution is current with the anime and most current ruling of the real-life card game as of its release, the game follows those rules at all times. Meaning that, even when playing in story mode in Duelist Kingdom, you are saddled with the VRAINS ruleset of only being allowed to have a maximum of two Fusion monsters and the like. Part of the fun of playing those old duels with the old cards and stories is being able to use all the super busted nonsense from the old version of the game. I want to be able to summon 3 Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon and do a bazillion damage to my opponent, but sadly I can’t. I truly wish that each era in story mode was using its own rule set of the time in a vacuum. I understand that might have been a logistical nightmare but summoning a fusion monster for the first time in Duelist Kingdom and seeing it go into the new extra monster zone actually made my heart sink a bit.
Unless you are a huge fan of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise as a whole you will get bored with this game very quickly. All you can do in this game is duel and play through the story mode, If your love of Yu-Gi-Oh isn’t enough to make that enjoyable you will have a bad time with the game. However, if that love is high enough, you will find a massively enjoyable throwback to the glory days of Yu-Gi-Oh games whether you started in Duelist Kingdom and stopped after that, or have been with the franchise all the way through VRAINS. This game is all about dueling, and it delivers on that straightforward goal, for better or for worse. But chances are, if you are even aware of this game’s existence, you are probably its target audience anyway.
This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.