Newest Review: ... the first anime series of Yu-Gi-Oh! It was considered very violent and scary, and only lasted one season, with no companies outside of ... more
Member Name: jillmurphy
Date: 05/06/04, updated on 15/02/05 (3877 review reads)
Advantages: Kids play for hours.
Disadvantages: Expensive., Poor quality., General shysterness
Well, on one level, this is all very complicated stuff. On another, far more significant level, though, this is all very simple stuff. On the one hand, we have an extremely complex card game inspired by an extremely complex TV cartoon. There are many characters ? all with magical powers ? and lots of sub-plots and complicated inter-relationships. On the other hand, we have a very simple deprive-parents-of-every-penny-possible fad, like all the other fads targeting the underage consumer. Gah.
Yu-gi-oh is a very popular cartoon series for children, shown on Sky One. A young lad manages to solve a puzzle that no one else has been able to solve. It is a bit like the Gordian Knot though ? all very easy when you know how. This gives him magical powers and he transforms into an ultra-duellist, fighting ? of course ? on the side of truth, justice and all that jazz. And, what do you know? He duels his enemies, always having been placed under some unjust disadvantage. Over several series ? although I think only two have been shown so far in the UK ? he duels to save er? his sister, his grandfather, the world. You get the drift, right?! I have the basic idea, but I really think you need to be under twelve to appreciate all the many nuances.
You can buy a PSOne game based on the programme. You can buy a PC game based on the programme. You can buy a GBA game based on the programme. You can buy the books of the series. You can buy the DVDs of the series. A PS2 game is in the offing, as is a movie. As if this were not enough, you can buy a trading card game with Yu-gi-oh branding all over it. I am just waiting on the lunch boxes. Sigh.
To be able to play the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game, you will need to buy a starter pack. This will set you b
ack ? depending on where you shop ? between a fiver and nine quid. Ebay is the cheapest place to look and here you will pay five or six pounds for brand new packs. High street shops such as WH Smith and Woolworth's charge eight pounds. I bought from probably the most expensive place, Amazon, but that was because I had some vouchers to use. There are four different starter packs available but only two on the high street. From what I can make out, the second pair of starter packs are not yet officially released in the UK, but have found their way into the online shops. It is all so darned involved, though, do not quote me on that! For your five to nine pounds, you get a pack of game cards ? 43 "normal" and 3 "foil". The foil cards are obviously the super duper or, in Yu-Gi-Oh speak, the rare ones. Of course, they are not rare at all, just expensive. You also get a rule booklet and um? er? something optimistically called a "game mat". The game mat is a fold out piece of paper. Not card. Paper. Yes people: you too can fork out the best part of a tenner for a pack of playing cards. The cards are not even of top quality; they are less sturdy than a Top Trump card for instance, and about on a level with those Soccer Shoot Out cards you may have seen.
The game itself is like any other trading card game. You begin with a set number of "life points" and you duel with them using the character attributes on the various cards. The aim is to reduce your opponent's life points to zero, at which point you have won the duel. It is all like an incredibly complicated Top Trumps. And when I say incredibly complicated, I mean INCREDIBLY COMPLICATE D, in capital case. There are so many
rules, so many exceptions, so many tactics and counter tactics it is ? frankly ? ridiculous. The Yu-Gi-Oh packs recommend their game for children of eight and upwards, but I do not think many eight-year-olds would be able to play it correctly. My two children, at seven and eight, certainly cannot. Neither can I, at forty. Conor, in particular, is a bright child; he whups both his parents at chess. Yet the intricacies of this card game are utterly beyond him. Observation of my two and their pals tells me that each gang of children simply make up their own, pared down rules, and I imagine the game is played in thousands of different ways up and down the country.
Annoyingly, to begin a duel, you are supposed to have a deck of fifty cards. That is interesting, is it not, given that the starter packs contain only forty-six cards? Never thee fear, oh parents of bottomless purses, though, for there are booster packs available at almost every retail outlet near you. These will set you back an absolutely shocking two to four quid, and contain six or nine cards. You are beginning to see what an expensive fad this is, aren't you? Amazon Marketplace and Ebay are probably your best places to save your overdraft a hammering. As a parent, you may have trouble distinguishing which are the best cards to buy ? some cards carry a great deal more kudos than others, y'see. I find it all a total nightmare. I think the older fan of Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards uses them in a more geeky, trainspotter-y collector fashion and this pushes up the price of certain cards on the auction sites. One imagines the manufacturers control release of certain cards too; it's all about creating demand, sadly.
I resent these corporate tie-ins. I resent being asked to pay such an amount of money for what is no more than a pack of playing cards. I resent still furthe
r buying a starter pack only to find that I will need at least one booster pack even to begin to play a solitary "proper" game. It is difficult to explain to a seven year old that one booster pack of Yu-Gi-Oh cards costs the same amount of money as seven packs of football stickers, for to a seven year old, the one equates to the other. And in reality, the seven year old has it right, does he not? The Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game mounts an exorbitant assault upon any parent's purse. It would not be quite so bad if the cards were of high quality, but they are not. It would not matter so much if the game mat was sturdy, but it is not. It would not matter so much if there were a finite number of cards and packs to collect, but the releases are seemingly unending. And in the end, what has the child received? A game made so complicated simply to allow its manufacturers to force more and more purchases and a game far too complicated for its target consumer.
I have bought one full-priced starter pack, one full-priced booster pack and made several second-hand purchases from Ebay. Altogether, on this Yu-Gi-Oh game, I have spent around twenty quid. Frankly, I feel raped. It has to be said though, that Conor and Kieran play with these cards for hours upon hours ? they duel between themselves using their own, made-up rules, they compare their collection with those of their friends, poring over details for more hours upon hours. This particular fad has lasted two or three months in these parts, and shows no sign of dimming. And much as it irks me to admit it, both my sons have probably had more than twenty quidsworth of enjoyment.
It sticks in the gosh-darned throat though. Bloody tie-ins.