The next big DS game? Maybe.
Right off the bat, know that this game is aimed directly at the hardcore Yu-Gi-Oh crowd. If you’ve never watched the show, collected the trading cards, or played any of the previous games, World Championship 2007 will throw you for a loop for the first couple hours of play. To make this review as easy to read as possible, I’m going to take things extra-slow, so grab a pot of coffee, a fresh bagel, and start thinking about sacrificing swordsmen because they’ve only got 500 attack points.
The premise to the Yu-Gi-Oh world is as follows: there’s a popular trading card game called Duel Monsters, and people gather from all over the world to battle each other and gain prestige among their peers. Since the game requires a lot of strategy and cunning, those who can hold their own are highly regarded. World Championship takes that same premise and gives the foundation a digital makeover. No more, no less.
There’s no story mode to be dropped into, so if you’re expecting to be schooled in the ways of the card, you’d do best to head to the Tutorial Mode, where you can find tons of interactive lessons, with a half-dozen practice duels that’ll teach you the basics of the game. I can’t stress how important it is to go through these if you don’t have any previous knowledge on the series.
Here, you’ll become familiar with the fundamentals of dueling. Each player starts with the same amount of life points (8000, usually, although it can vary), and the point of the game is to reduce your adversary’s down to zero via turn-based combat. To do this, you’ll have to summon monster cards, which can be set in either a defense mode (meaning that, if attacked, no life points can be lost if they’re destroyed, and that the battle is dependent on their Defense Points), or an attack mode (where they can be destroyed if they lose, which is dependent on their Attack Points).
From here, battles are decided based on who has the most points. If both monsters are in attack mode, then the difference in attack points is then deducted from a player’s life points. If a player runs out of monsters to hold up the fort, then they can be attacked directly, wherein your foe can reduce all of their team’s attack points from your life points.
You can’t just summon any creature you like, however. More powerful cards can only be summoned through sacrifice, meaning you’ll need to have a set amount of weaker monsters on the field for at least one turn before you can send them to your graveyard in exchange for an advanced summoning. For certain high-grade beasts, you can only bring them out onto the field if a condition is met (like having a lesser form of theirs on the field and attacking a number of times).
Since the aforementioned can sometimes be difficult to perform, you can also combine two monsters into one, more powerful card, should you be in possession of a fusion card. It’s in this way that you can not only free up space in your hand, but also get a more robust defense on the field.
The battle process is made more complicated by the inclusion of Magic and Trap Cards. The difference between the two is that, while Magic Cards can be activated at any time, Trap Cards are activated by an enemy’s actions. In either case, launching a card releases some sort of effect that you can use to your advantage (like drawing an extra card, automatically destroying an opposing monster of your choice, etc).
Once you feel like you’ve got a good handle on what’s going on, you can head into the CPU-based duel mode and take on a bevy of AI-controlled opponents. The more you win, the more credits you’ll receive, which you can then use to buy cards and build up a new deck. There’s a pretty solid learning curve, so provided you’ve completed the tutorial, you won’t have much trouble climbing up the ranks.
You see, once you’ve built up some confidence, you’re free to have your self-esteem shattered by taking advantage of the game’s Wi-Fi capabilities. Luckily, if you don’t have any friend codes to plug in, you can still play online via random matchmaking. Surprisingly, it’s extremely easy to set up a game – it never took me longer than 30 seconds to get a game going. Unfortunately, I was then treated to 20-30 minutes of torture, as I was brutally owned by every opponent I ran across. As for local play, there’s no single-card multiplayer, so if you’re planning on battling your friends, make sure they’ve got their own copy.
Since all of the action goes down on the bottom screen, you can use the stylus to draw from the deck, cycle through your hand, and tap on cards to activate their effect. If that’s not your style, however, a conventional method with D-Pad and button control is also available.
As far as presentation goes, World Championship is a bit mixed. Monsters’ 3D models are generally pretty clean, but their animation can sometimes seem a little choppy. The 2D artwork on the cards, however, looks great, and it definitely adds some eye-candy to the game. As for the audio, I’d classify it as devoid of memorable tracks, though you’ll probably be too involved in duels to really notice.
It’s hard to give World Championship 2007 a score, because it really depends on the player. If you’re looking for a hardcore, card-based strategy game with tons of depth (maybe too much depth, to be honest) and online capabilities, then this is your next DS purchase. If you’re the kind of gamer who likes a good (or any) story, or if you want something with casual appeal, then you’re better off staying away. Don’t look at the license and figure it’s some kid game – there’s a whole lot of meat to this package.