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access_time September 23, 2019 at 6:00 AM in Nintendo by Daniel Ladiano

Review | Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

What started as another entry in the popular Shonen Jump magazine became a genuine conglomerate in the card game landscape. Yu-Gi-Oh! has been running strong for a couple decades now. For several years there have been many incarnations, from the classic Duel Monsters saga featuring the titular Yugi, to the more recent virtual reality inspired VRAINS. 2015’s Legacy of the Duelist used to be the definitive game to include every single saga in the Yu-Gi-Oh-verse. Four years later, a pseudo-remaster is out for the Nintendo Switch, now known as Link Evolution. This release includes all the previous content, as well as all the DLC from the Arc-V series. While the additional content should make aficionados happy, is it really worth double dipping if you loaded your duel disk years ago?

The biggest appeal of Legacy of the Duelist as a whole is its campaign mode. There are six chapters in total, covering each series (Duel Monsters, GX, 5Ds, Zexal, Arc-V and VRAINS). Each battle features a prologue narrated by the duel bot “INF-FB” followed by character dialogue accompanied by still images. While this is obviously a budget release, it would’ve been nice hearing some of the iconic actors reprise their roles.

While the Switch version includes all the DLC from the Arc-V era, it’s a shame the other sagas couldn’t have expanded narratives as well. For example, Duel Monsters primarily features battles from Duelist Kingdom and Battle City. It unfortunately leaves out some iconic battles like Joey vs. Marik or Yugi’s final clash against Bakura. Even if they couldn’t include every battle, it seems unfortunate that they didn’t add more in four years. At the very least there is the Reverse Duel option, allowing players to play as the opposing character in a specific duel. In addition, players aren’t restricted to using just the predetermined story deck, allowed to build their own. It’s definitely more challenging (not to mention authentic to the narrative) to use the default deck though.

Speaking of building a deck, winning battles awards players with cards that can be used for deck creation. In addition there are also duel points that can be used to buy booster packs from specific characters. The further players move in the story, more characters would have their signature booster packs available for sale. This is by far the biggest appeal since this game features a staggering amount of cards from every single era of Yu-Gi-Oh, even including newer ones like Pendulum or Link monsters.

For those who aren’t familiar how battling works, there is a tutorial option that explains some of the basic mechanics. While those do a reasonable job, they can be rather cumbersome in execution. The new Link Evolution tutorial in particular is ludicrously wordy. It basically forces players to learn the rules in a rigid manner while including an ample amount of steps to explain a simple concept.

This wouldn’t be a huge issue if the VRAINS campaign wasn’t so short. This is the only instance in which the Link summons are used. Since there are only three battles (with two reverse ones), it feels ironic how long winded the explanation was to a mechanic that would be mostly used in multiplayer. This is similar to how the original 2015 release only had a few duels from Arc-V. The difference is the season was only a year old at the time. At the time of this review, Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS is reaching its final episode so having so little content from the series is baffling to say the least.

But how is dueling itself? Well, it’s Yu-Gi-Oh! If you played one virtual game in the series, you played them all. Each player has a deck of cards filled with monsters, traps, spells and fusion monsters and the goal is to win by depleting your opponent health points to 0. Despite some of my gripes, the game can be downright addicting since the core game is fun. Sure, making a game breaking deck with “United We Stand” that increases monster attack power can be devilishly joyous. However, winning with almost the exact deck of a series character isn’t only a reward, but adds to the immersion of being a part of that universe.

There aren’t any significant changes between the Switch version to its predecessor. The main difference would be the summoning of key monsters. The original version used an in-game animation of the iconic beasts showing on screen. With Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, there is a movie clip playing during their summon itself. Other than that, there isn’t much to write home in the presentation department since it gets the job done. There is, however, one major drawback: performance.

While the framerate of Link Evolution mostly runs in 60fps, there are occasions where it drops. When the opponent AI is calculating a move with multiple cards on the field, any sort of change causes a significant framerate drop. Even worse, there’s moments where the game freezes for a sizable time just for the opponent to decide on a move. This was something that never happened in the original version. I had an instance in my game where, before the winning turn, my opponent to thought so hard about the next move that the game froze altogether. This issue occurs while playing online as well, but seems to be more along the lines of lag. Hopefully that Konami releases a patch that fixes those issues.

While this version isn’t a major step up from the original release four years ago, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is a perfect match on the Nintendo Switch. Being able to pick up and play a few battles here and there is ideal for handheld play. It’s just a shame the performance issues and a disappointing slew of additions prevent it from being the definitive edition. Fans of the franchise who haven’t played the original release would enjoy the game immensely. Otherwise, it may be a better idea to wait for either a price drop or a patch.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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