YU-GI-OH! LEGACY OF THE DUELIST: LINK EVOLUTION / DEVELOPER: OTHER OCEAN INTERACTIVE / PUBLISHER: KONAMI / PLATFORM: SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Even those with only a passing interest in anime and / or card games will undoubtedly be aware of Yu-Gi-Oh! - the long-running franchise that started out in print but now commands a gargantuan TV / movie / videogame / trading card empire. The last main Yu-Gi-Oh! game - 2015's Legacy of the Duelist, released on PS4 and Xbox One - has now received a Switch-exclusive update in the form of Link Evolution, bringing Duelist up to speed with the events of the animated series.
For the uninitiated, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a card game where players put together a deck of cards and duel against the computer (or each other), taking it in turns to draw cards and attack each other based on the stats or effects of each card played. Link Evolution adds around 1500 new cards to the pack, for a total of over 9000, and brings the card game's New Master Rules into play. We'll leave the long-term players to discuss the ins and outs of that decision between themselves! A lengthy tutorial will teach newcomers everything they need to know, but actually remembering everything in-game is a whole other matter entirely. It's easy enough to get the hang of the basics, but it'll take a long time to master the more intricate nuances.
Legacy's single-player campaign is split across six stories, each following the events of the Yu-Gi-Oh! animated series. Each story consists of around thirty duels, apart from VRAINS which only has three. Each story introduces new rules and gameplay mechanics, and the first duel of each story is always a tutorial mission that deals exactly the right cards at the right time to help you figure out what's going on. After this, actual duels get much trickier, as the “historical” decks given to you during the game aren't always the greatest. And of course, even if you're using your own deck full of killer cards, you're still relying on the luck of the draw to deal the perfect hand.
Beyond the campaign, Battle Pack duels allow you to temporarily use cards you don't currently own, and Duelist Challenges pit you against elite foes from the animated series. Online ranked and unranked modes are quick and easy to drop into, although unless you're already an expert, expect to come across some fierce competition in ranked play (the game has been available for a few months in Japan). Local duels can be played against friends on separate Switches, but not on the same single console (because you'd all be able to see each other's cards, wouldn't you?).
It's always a pleasure to report that handheld mode works flawlessly - we haven't encountered any slowdown or anything like that. No concerns about font size, either - Duelist avoids the tiny text pitfall that so many others fall into, with everything here perfectly readable on the small screen. The overall presentation is pretty good - everything's easy to find and the controls are super simple. There are very few battle animations which is a bit of a shame, and the music gets repetitive quickly, but neither of those are deal breakers in any way. Something to be aware of though, is that cloud saves aren't supported...
The new cards and rule changes make this worth re-visiting for owners of the previous edition and, even though there are only a handful of new duels, it's good to see where things might head in the future. If you're a Switch-owning Yu-Gi-Oh! fan who hasn't played Legacy before, there's absolutely no doubt that you need to pick this up as soon as possible!