"World Championship 2006 is a great game that hints at a potentially excellent future. Unlike its drooling idiot siblings on the half-powered Yu-Gi-Oh! Double Pack, this final GBA edition combines all the card game's actual rules (including Fusion Monsters) with the thrill of purchasing and ripping open hundreds of virtual booster packs. The only things holding this particular Pak back are some audiovisual inadequacies and the sore lack of online play."
Yu-Gi-Oh! We've all heard of it, but none of us will admit to playing it.
That's because mature gamers don't play silly card games marketed towards brainwashed children. No, mature gamers instead choose of their own free will to play seductive all-female wrestling games. If you don't believe me, just ask the ESRB. They're the authority on maturity!
Yu-Gi-Oh — or, more precisely, Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament 2006 — does not include any mud matches or bikini-clad lolitas. In a marketing move that I can only call "misguided", Konami actually packed World Championship 2006 full of intricate gameplay, brain-teasing puzzles, and loads upon loads of replay value that should keep intelligent gamers entertained for weeks on end.
All sarcasm aside, World Championship 2006 is a great game that hints at a potentially excellent future. Unlike its drooling idiot siblings on the half-powered Yu-Gi-Oh! Double Pack, this final GBA edition combines all the card game's actual rules (including Fusion Monsters) with the thrill of purchasing and ripping open hundreds of virtual booster packs. The only things holding this particular Pak back are some audiovisual inadequacies and the sore lack of online play.
Since I'm not a mental midget like Choi's friend Chang, I didn't actually expect online play from a GBA game. Unfortunately, Yu-Gi-Oh's duel-based gameplay begs for human opposition... and unless your real-life friends also happen to own the game (unlikely), you're stuck playing World Championship 2006 against the computer.
I can think of far worse fates.
One thing I learned while playing the Double Pack was that Yu-Gi-Oh decks, unlike Magic: The Gathering decks, are all based around summoning creatures. Sure, some Magic decks rely on conjuring huge wurms to gobble up opponents, but there are lots of other styles: direct damage decks, stasis decks, and the like. I therefore considered Yu-Gi-Oh to be more limited and thus inferior.
So, after booting up World Championship 2006, I was shocked like Blanka's bitch. My pre-built deck — "Warriors' Triumph" — contained 40 cards, and every single creature had an unusual special ability. One relatively weak warrior fights exceptionally well against enormous opponents. The "commander" card is immune from attack as long as other soldiers are in play. My favorite fighter actually increases in level each time he defeats an enemy, like an RPG character! At this point, I realized something important: the Yu-Gi-Oh Double Pack, with its stripped-down, ability-deprived creatures, sucks. I also realized that as long as you own the right cards, it's possible to build a ridiculously elaborate — and potentially degenerate — World Championship deck.
Anyone who's ever played Magic knows that half the fun is the possibility of creating ridiculously overpowered decks that abuse tactics the creators never considered. World Championship 2006 is full of similar possibilities.
Imagine a hypothetical scenario where your defensive line has been completely obliterated. Without a single knight or dragon on your side, the opponent's army of five robots is in prime position to slaughter you. DEATH IS NIGH!
Now consider the following ingredients:
The zombie, if summoned, could only defend against one of the enemy's five cybernetic goons. Since all your other creatures are already dead, you can't possibly summon the huge-ass beast. THE PLAYER IS IN A HOPELESS SITUATION!
Or not. Solution:
1) Activate Spell Card One and discard your huge-ass dinosaur.
2) Summon the zombie.
3) Cast Spell Card Two to destroy ALL creatures in play.
This leads to a ridiculously awesome chain of events. By casting Spell Card One and discarding the huge-ass beast, you get to draw two cards. Extra cards are always good! By casting Spell Card Two, you destroy all five of your opponent's creatures, saving yourself from death. You also destroy your own zombie. That's not a bad thing — that's a good thing! When the undead fiend... er, dies... it instantly summons the top creature in your graveyard. Namely, the previously discarded WAR DINOSAUR.
Eliminating the enemy's army, summoning a massive creature, and increasing the number of cards in hand — that's the kind of degenerate combination that makes me proudly flex my bulging muscles!
In case you still doubt Yu-Gi-Oh's depth, World Championship 2006 also includes a brain-busting puzzle mode that thrusts you into specially-tailored scenarios with pre-defined goals. For example, in the very first puzzle, the opponent has 6000 life points and two HUGE Blue Eyes White Dragons on his side... and you've got to figure out a way to win in a single turn. Not only are these puzzles mentally stimulating, but they really opened my eyes to the game's depth.
Winning duels and solving puzzles earn you "duel points", which can be exchanged to buy entire booster packs, ranging from real-world expansion sets like Metal Raiders to Shadow of Infinity. There are also a few fake expansions that you can unlock by performing well in the Survival mode. World Championship 2006 even replicates the experience of opening your newly-purchased packs — buy them, open them, and excitedly peruse all the pretty pictures! It's just as addictive as the actual card game, but doesn't cost money... and since "duel point" rewards are reasonably generous, you won't have to play forever before buying new packs.
With over 2000 cards, it would be hard to remember which creatures belong to which deck. Fortunately. you can save up to 60 deck "recipes". Not only can you use these recipes to quickly swap between deck types at will, but it means you can save a deck before you start screwing around with it (by adding/removing cards). This means you can experiment without fear of ruining your deck!
If only I had some friends to play against. Even my Yu-Gi-Oh!-loving nephew has already moved on to the DS and tossed his outdated GBA into the bottomless toybox.
Konami, heed my command! Port this game, add some more music (two songs just don't cut it), put it all online, and then you'll have a real phenomenon. Until that happens, Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament 2006 is merely very, very good.
Staff review by Zigfried (May 19, 2006)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
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