Twenty-odd years ago, one Kids’ WB released one of their quirkiest anime to date: Yu-Gi-Oh!. Yu-Gi-Oh! involves a boy named Yugi Moto who accidentally gets possessed by an ancient Egyptian spirit. Through the power of friendship and trading card games, the partners protect the world from other dark powers. Shortly following the release of the anime, a real-world card game was introduced. Whilst both the anime and card game have experienced numerous changes over the year, both are still going strong today.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is a celebration of the past twenty years. For the first time in a console game, Link Evolution retells the events of all six anime series. In addition, the game includes the card game’s most updated rulings and over 900 cards to collect.
Is Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution the digital adaption we’ve been waiting for?
The Falsebound Kingdom
Generally, story segments are reserved for games of the RPG variety. However as Konami has hyped up the game’s story mode, we really can’t ignore it here. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution covers the main plot of all six anime series aired thus far. This includes Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, and Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! campaign follows Yugi Moto. After defeating the Duel Monsters World Champion, Yugi gains unanticipated attention from the game’s creator, Maximillion Pegasus. Taking interest in not only Yugi but also the Millineum Puzzle around his neck, Pegasus challenges Yugi to a Shadow Game. In this game, Duel Monsters come to life and any damage taken is quite real. At the brink of obsession, Pegasus invites Yugi to his private island. For it is there that he plans to host the Duelist Kingdom tournament. To give Yugi proper incentive, he steals the soul of Yugi’s grandpa. With no other choice than to play his game, Yugi enters Pegasus’ tournament.
Unsurprisingly, the first series mostly covers the Duelist Kingdom and Battle City arcs. Excluding the final season, these are the two canonical arcs based on the manga. The game ignores filler arcs; until it doesn’t. Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour for Nintendo DS previously included the Virtual World Arc. Noah and the Big Five are completely absent from Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution. Despite this, events and opponents from the Waking the Dragons arc are present. This is an odd inconsistency considering both the arcs are ultimately filler.
On paper, a walk down memory lane sounds like perfect nostalgia bait for any Yu-Gi-Oh! fan. Personally I have only watched up to ZEXAL. While I enjoyed the first four series despite themselves, I will forever favor Yu-Gi-Oh! And Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s. Likewise, there may be plenty of newer Yu-Gi-Oh! Fans completely unfamiliar with the adventures of Yugi, Jaden, or Yusei. The campaign is split into six parts and can be played in any order. Each loosely summarizes an anime series. Emphasis on the word “loose.” Each conversation is abridged and awkwardly narrated by an original. And by original character, I mean a soulless machine. This causes the game’s campaigns to seem more like a school play than a proper cinematic adaption.
For some reason, Konami has always struggled balancing story with gameplay when it comes to Yu-Gi-Oh!. Forbidden Memories, The Sacred Cards, and Reshef of Destruction all offered memorable storytelling. This was all at the cost of simplified gameplay and nonexistent game balance. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution takes quantity over quality in terms of story. Luckily, this latest attempt had no effect on Yu-Gi-Oh!’s gameplay as it has in the past.
For anyone that has ever played the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is a perfect replication. For anime fans, its a lot like anything seen Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Battle City arc and the entirety of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution reintroduces every mechanic the series has to offer. The rules include Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, XYZ, Pendulum, and Link summons. This may sound daunting, but the game never forces specific summoning strats outside of the tutorials. With the latest update, even Link summoning is no longer required for Extra Deck summons. In the end, players can choose whatever cards their heart desires.
The single-player campaign is all played out in two perspectives. Simply put, the winner and loser of each iconic game. When playing as Yugi, Kaiba, or Joey, the player can be given a Dark Magician, Blue-Eyes, or Red-Eyes deck respectively. Depending on the opponent, each deck has variations to complete specific strategies. Yugi’s first deck against Kaiba focuses on drawing Exodia. Meanwhile, his deck for their first rematch focuses on Kuriboh and Multiply. While it’s always fun to obliterate Kaiba’s dragons, the decks provided are hit and miss. With decks focusing on cards used in the original anime episodes, they can often feel gimmicky at times.
In addition to prebuilt decks, players can also bring their own decks during a campaign. This gives players the freedom to play how they want to play. It can also result in some interesting “what if?” situations. What if Yugi ran Spellbooks and Prophecy spellcasters? What if Jaden was a master of the Six Samurai? While this can lessen the feeling of nostalgia, it will generally increase the playability of each match.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution offers both online and local multiplayer. It’s mostly what fans have come to expect. The online mode offers both competitive and casual games. If playing in the same room, local multiplayer is the way to go. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is easily one of the best alternatives to the game Konami has to offer. With the ability to play anyone else who has the game, it’s a worthy investment for any fan.
One of the greatest strengths of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution can be found in its Battle Pack mode. As an avid card shark myself, drafts and sealed play are some of my favorite things. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution very effectively recreated both. With both options, players get a brand new deck made of freshly opened cards. While drafts allow players to pick and choose, sealed play leaves it all to chance. Once built, a player can use it online, locally, or in a special single-player match. After completing each session, the players also get to keep all their collected cards. Dark Magician of Chaos, welcome to the team!
The Eye of Timaeus
Unsurprisingly, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution reuses a majority of its assets. The most notable is with the card art. With over 900 iconic trading cards, reusing existing art is truly a no brainer. Each card looks just as they would in the anime or Trading Card Game. From Dark Magician Girl to Apple Magician Girl, Link Evolution faithfully displays the digital art of each Duel Monster. Long past are the days of Dark Duel Stories.
Throughout the years, Konami has dabbled with 3D models for Yu-Gi-Oh!. It has always been a cool concept. That said, the results often varied. While this is not the focus of Link Evolution, 3D monsters do make an appearance. This honor is reserved however for the most iconic monsters. These essentially include the favorites of each series’ mains. Dark Magician, Dark Magician Girl, Stardust Dragon, and Utopia are all included. With the focus of quality over quantity here, the rare 3D summons look impressive, to say the least.
When it comes to games based on anime, you can expect one of two things in regards to sound. One: the game will use the original soundtrack or remasters of the anime music. Two: the game will instead opt for generic, likely much cheaper sound. Unfortunately, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution falls in the later.
Yu-Gi-Oh! has featured various soundtracks over the years. Not only are there now a total of six series, but each dub also received their own instrumental and vocal tracks. As a celebration of the series, representation of the sound department would have been a welcome edition. “WARRIORS,” “TEARDROP,” and “Braving!” are just some of the best Japanese themes the anime has to offer. Even the English theme would be nice! Instead, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution includes perhaps the most generic soundtrack every connected to the Yu-Gi-Oh! name.
Overall, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is perhaps the best way to play Yu-Gi-Oh! Outside of the official Trading Card Game. With that said, Link Evolution is certainly the cheaper investment. In terms of gameplay, it is perfection. It is the digital recreation fans have been waiting for. With various ways to play online and off, it’s a must-have for any series fan. Unfortunately, the story is nothing to brag about.
Hey! Hey! Listen!!! gives Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution 7.5 star chips out of 10.