Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of DestinyESRB:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer – Konami Japan
Publisher - Konami
Memory Card - 120KB
I have to admit, when Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny for the PS2 arrived at my home office; I was didn’t have a clue what to think. Not only am I completely unfamiliar with the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise but generally, other than Texas Hold-Em' Poker, I don't care much for card-based video games. Although The Beginning of Destiny is unlike any card-based game I have played before the game suffers on so many levels. I guess you could say I am still waiting for that card-based video game to come along and knock my socks off.
In terms of the visuals, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny is a bit of a disappointment. I had to check the box a few times to make sure it was not an original PSone game. Granted The Beginning of Destiny is essentially a card game so I was not expecting much in the way of style, presentation and visuals. Nevertheless, at this stage in the game, and this long into the life of the PS2, the game’s visuals are quite unacceptable. The Beginning of Destiny doesn't even come close to pushing the limits of the PS2, so it does not surprise me that the developers didn't even think about putting this game on a next-generation console.
First off, the characters look terrible. From a distance you can't even tell if you are looking at a male or female character. Furthermore, the characters display no emotion and are quite bland. You would think that given the title is based on Japanese anime that we would see some colourful, vibrant and exiting characters. Sadly this is not the case. Simply put, the characters look unfinished and rushed. My second gripe is that the cut-scenes are lacklustre and repetitive. You are essentially thrown into these scenes with the same old characters playing the same old card game and this is repetitive and sloppy. Generally speaking, I expect cut-scenes to look better than the actual in-game visuals but I think it may be the reverse in this case. Finally, the actual card game in The Beginning of Destiny looks decent but there is nothing visually inspiring about the graphics. Having seen some screen shots of previous Yu-Gi-Oh games I don’t see much of a difference with this installment. Overall, I just felt so much more effort and time could have spent making this a better looking game. Perhaps it might have actually made the game more appealing than it turned out.
The sound in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny doesn't fair much better than the visuals. The repetitive music becomes incredibly painful after awhile as it just seems to loop over and over again. As I played I really did wish that I could listen to my own tunes instead of the lame jazzy beats you get in The Beginning of Destiny. Unfortunately, the PS2 or PS3 does not have this ability. Another concern is the overall lack of in-game voice acting. Instead the characters move their mouths and nothing comes out. It really makes the game come across as a budget title in my opinion. As for rest of the sound effects, it all seems forgettable. In fact, I can't even remember if I heard any or not. It's that forgettable.
For those of you who do not know, Yu-Gi-Oh is a card game which is also a popular Japanese anime. Created by Kazuki Takahashi, Yu-Gi-Oh is complex card game wherein each player uses cards in order to defeat one another. It’s also been referred to as ‘Monster Dual’. When I say the game is complex that is probably an understatement as I am simply unable to describe all the ‘ins and outs’ of Yu-Gi-Oh in one review. Although Yu-Gi-Oh is not for everyone the game has a huge following and obviously a big enough following to warrant a video game franchise.
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny features a story mode where you play a student who has recently arrived at the Dual Academy. A big Yu-Gi-Oh competition is looming and you need to befriend another student so you can compete in the competition. As such, you begin a journey of sorts to earn the trust of your peers and ultimately find a partner for the competition. The majority of your time is spent doing what regular college students do such as studying, socializing, etc. During these times you basically interact with each student you meet and try to earn their trust. The game features quite a few characters (approximately 50) but you will only regularly interact with the main characters in the game. These main characters are the same main characters you see in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series. Eventually you end up selecting one of the main characters for the competition. As you progress through the game, it tracks your progress with each character and items such as trust and skill are tracked with each character you encounter.
The single experience in The Beginning of Destiny is an open concept sim-game of sorts which had the potential to be very intriguing but it ends up falling flat more often than not. For instance, making friends and building trust doesn't take much effort as the AI essentially spoon feeds the topic you are supposed to discuss. Before you get into any conversation with another student they will basically give you a strong hint as to what they want to discuss. Unless you can’t read you will figure this out pretty quickly. When you approach a character you generally have four different topics to discuss: Duels, Hobbies, The Academy and Rumours. Granted the AI can be unpredictable at times, however for the most part building relationships and increasing your stats takes no effort. At the end of the day I just didn't find this aspect of the game incredibly challenging.
The single player mode certainly adds some spice the game; however the backbone of the franchise has always been the card game itself. Having never played Yu-Gi-Oh before I certainly struggled at times but fortunately there is an abundance of tips and tutorials scattered about during the game. You just have to go to class to learn the 'ins and outs'. For myself, the card game did not convert me into a Yu-Gi-Oh fanatic; however I can certainly see the appeal. There is no doubt the addiction factor is high in this game.
There is a mode in the game where you can essentially by-pass the story mode and play a quick game with a buddy. Unfortunately that buddy has to be playing on the same console. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The Beginning of Destiny does not feature online gameplay. This is not all that surprising considering this is a 'last-gen' title however some online play would have been a bonus here.
Continue to Page 2