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Released at the end of 2006, Konami's Yu Gi Oh! GX Tag Force carries on the Yu Gi Oh Franchise for the first time on the PSP with an alleged detailed story mode exclusive to the game designed from the scriptwriters of the show, but can this instalment extend the game further than your average Yu Gi Oh fan? With an alleged story mode what can possibly go wrong?
The player starts as a new duellist at Duel Academy joining the Slifer Red Team House in true Harry Potter Style, just without the sorting hat. Progressing through the academy relies on you turning up to class and learning all there is to know about duelling and progressing towards the annual Tag Force Battle Tournament held at the Academy. To be honest the game splits itself apart into different gaming genres depending at what point you are at within the game. Obviously whilst duelling the game itself is very much a strategy card game, but whilst exploring all the locations and talking to characters it's very much a real life sim game similar to RPG's such as Harvest Moon.
This works well early on in the game as it helps add more depth to the game being able to explore locations at your own free will takes away the linear factor that many games of this genre suffers from. The game is also set in a sort of real time world meaning you play by the clock in the corner of the screen to allow you to set times to do certain objectives like turning up to class and meeting people you have planned to battle. This again works well because depending on what day it is or what time, different characters appear in different places meaning you will have to learn each players schedule to be able to know where they are at any particular time.
The basis of the game is however duelling using your deck of cards, which any Yu Gi Oh fan will cherish. Being able to edit your deck at your own level of skill is key to being able to defeat higher-level players. Obtaining cards is simple by either buying them from the shop or renting them. Each have there own ups and downs and players must use there own judgement as they go about creating there own deck to battle with. For example buying booster packs from the shop is basically a bout of luck on what cards you will receive, still that's what fun about it, duelling to raise money to then spend it on new cards.
When duelling people the screen will change to a battlefield in where you will place your cards in true Yu Gi Oh style and play using the unique strategy that Yu Gi Oh utilises. As a fan of Yu Gi Oh games and shows I already knew how to battle and what all the different terms meant but attending the classes teaches beginners all about how to duel and exactly what you need to know. This however is a little lame and patronizing at times and simply ruins the fluidity of the game simply because if a beginner wants to play they will have to attend the class for about a month before battling someone to victory which not only takes away the fun of duelling it takes away the pick up and play features that Yu Gi Oh fans will have.
With over 2500 cards included in the game there isn't a shortage of different strategies available to the players abilities and likes. This in fact is a fantastic thing about the game simply because you can have the choice to make any choices you want to make to your own gaming style. It is also a very clever game with the ability of your opponent to counter any move you make with trap and magic cards leaving you to create Plan B and Plan C moves. It really does make you think about the cards you use and moves you make and can actually keep you entertained for hours trying to beat an opponent.
In addition, as the name suggests you can team up with another player and have a Tag Duel with a partner against two opponents. What this does is creates a senseless amount of new possibilities to win and to loose a match. Your cards may no longer be good enough to win especially playing against a worthy opponent and you must rely on Computer AI to help you win the match. Speaking of which is very difficult at times as the AI in this game is impossible at times which character having their own deck and ability level.
There is a downside however and that simply is at times the game is extremely hard and does not really create any entertainment value for younger players who do not really grasp the idea of Yu Gi Oh! Moreover, beginners will have a hard time progressing through the game both by winning and by evolving their decks with more powerful and useful cards. This is simply because despite a help menu that pops up when each card is placed on the field, they wont necessarily know what what card does or how effective it is. It will take a long time for them to pick up how to effectively use the cards at their disposal.
A huge downside to this game is simply that after a while the game becomes so monotonous and repetitive simply going through the same schedule every day. For a game with a 'detailed' story mode it simply is so boring and uneventful. There is a lot packed into the gameplay of each match but sadly not enough new events happen through the game apart from choosing your tag partner and whom to battle and passing tests in order to win the tournament, the game itself is flaccid. On the plus side though, fans will recognise characters from the show making a cameo appearance throughout.
Graphically, Yu Go Oh! GX Tag Force really fits the bill to the likeness of the TV Show with Anime style animation and greatly drawn characters. I have never played a Yu Gi Oh game before where the style of the show really is imposed into the game. Flashing lights emanate behind your opponent just like the show as they play powerful cards and set traps against you. This really helps the atmosphere whilst you play as you feel that you are part of the game.
Apart from that, simply design is used for the building designs and general aesthetics that bombard the screen. Its designed very similar to the Pokemon games on the DS but with a little more 3D edge that the PSP can provide. The game never glitches or slows down despite the amount of menus that can pop up during battle plus the colourful cut scenes that generate when a fusion monster is placed. Even the FMV scenes when powerful monsters attack you are designed flawlessly.
Sadly, I was disappointed with the sound effect within the game with a complete lack of voice-overs, generalised menu clicks, and tacky background music that every game of this genre suffers from. The Japanese version of the game had voice-overs and miserably we are not worthy enough obviously. You would rather just turn the volume down completely and put you iPod on instead.
A nice feature is the ability to use you WiFi mode on your PSP to hook up with four other players for a full on duel battle against your friends. To my disappointment no online mode is included where you can play other people around the world which to be honest would have won so many people over.
Overall, Yu Gi Oh! GX Tag Force is a brilliant strategy game that has many advantages up its sleeve to keep players attention, sadly, however, with a boring story mode that game suffers extremely badly with a monotonous tone and after a while, players will go in search of something more eventful. The duelling is fuelled with so much attention it is a shame the game overall is not. Especially since only Yu Gi Oh fans will want to play this, which again is a shame because strategists will love this. Mix that with being overly difficult at times, I would not recommend this game to anyone but a fan of the show.
** Information **
450 KB Needed Minimum
No Online Play
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Marvel Trading Card Game (PSP)
Digmon Card Battle (PSOne)
** Price **
(as of 30/10/07)
Website: http://www.konami.com/Konami/ctl3810/cp20113/si1792851/cl1/yugiohgxtag_fo rce