Jeremy Jastrzab
17 Jul, 2007

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Spirit Caller Review

DS Review | Get that deck back out, it's time to duel!
Yu-gi-oh! and card-based video games are quite a nice couple. They are both either loved or hated, have very specific audiences and yet have always had the potential to be much more. Still, the people who do like them tend to be rather dedicated, and will lap up any new offering that’s thrown to them. Since the series’ debut on the DS in the form of Yu-gi-oh! Nightmare Troubadour, things were quiet for fifteen months until Yu-gi-oh! GX: Spirit Caller and Yu-gi-oh! World Championship 2007 were released quite close to each other. So which one should you get?

Specifically, we’ll be taking a look at Yu-gi-oh! GX: Spirit Caller. Yu-gi-oh! GX is a spin-off from the original Yu-gi-oh! series that centres around a “duelist academy”, where spiky-haired protagonists dueled against spiky-haired antagonists to try and claim the crown of “King of Games”. The story is nowhere near as abstract as the original, so for some it might not be as exciting. Yu-gi-oh! GX: Spirit Caller basically rides with this premise and has its own story except that you yourself are the game’s protagonist. You go through and duel multiple and familiar opponents to progress and learn a little about the Yu-gi-oh! mythos. The story in Nightmare Troubadour was much crazier and a bit more fun to run through though.

There are a couple of key differences between Spirit Caller and World Championship 2007. Spirit Caller is aimed more at the hardcore fans and has something of story while World Championship 2007 is purely about dueling and is actually better for newbies. Spirit Caller is really an upgrade on previous GBA incarnations of the Yu-gi-oh! game, with DS features pasted over the top. If you’re a big time Yu-gi-oh! fan, then you will have no problem whatsoever getting into the game. However, curious on-lookers are likely to be scared off, as there is no real tutorial mode, only a series of text explanations that are not too obvious if someone new were looking for them.

Show her your Sky Dragon.

Show her your Sky Dragon.
For the uninitiated (that are still reading), the Yu-gi-oh! card game pits together two duelists, each with their own deck of cards and they duel with the cards until one has either lost all their life points or run out of cards. There are three types of cards, monster, trap and magic. Monster cards are used to attack your opponent and their monsters, while trap and magic cards can supplement, protect and help out in numerous situations. The rules are rather dense but can be picked up quite easily if you’ve played these kinds of games or are a follower of the show.

Yu-gi-oh! GX: Spirit Caller follows off the Nightmare Troubadour template quite closely. All of your dueling and exploring will be confined to an island. The island is divided into five different sections and you use the stylus to point at fixtures or to locate opponents with something of a radar. As you beat opponents, you'll gain experience points and duelist points. By gaining experience, your duelist will gain levels and be open to more story events and new opponents will rear their ugly heads. Duelist points come from bonuses gained from particular action in duels e.g. winning without taking damage. These can later be traded in for packs of cards.

The card packs are quite important as they can be used to change and hopefully enhance your deck. There are over 1500 cards in the game so the deck combinations are limitless and can be made to suit virtually anyone's taste. While at the game's core, the (at times) questionable AI can be barged over with powerplay, there is a lot of strategy and winning or losing can often hinge on one turn. It's this that makes the game exciting. Of course, a lot of time can be spent managing your decks and cards but shifting through copious amounts of cards can be a laborous process at times, even with the touch screen controls.

You can create an avatar for your character. There are ten hair and ten appearance templates which are pretty basic. You probably won't be recreating yourself but it's a good starting point for the series. In terms of the actual dueling controls, the game can be played either with the stylus of face buttons. Playing with the face buttons is just the same as on the GBA. It's reasonably quick and serviceable but for a feeling of full control, the stylus is recommended. While the stylus controls are perfect for this type of game, the game isn't as well implemented as the "everyone can play" controls in Nightmare Troubadour. The stylus is more of a supplement to the d-pad and face buttons, rather than a control scheme on its own. There's nothing really wrong with it, but the initial experience with the interface may induce a false tap or two.

You're gonna get owned.

You're gonna get owned.
Probably the biggest addition to the franchise is online play over the Nintendo Wifi service. Spirit Caller was the first to implement this, though World Championship 2007 has since followed suite. There are a couple of options, such as choosing the type of duel and the region from where you'll look for players. Your avatar in the story will be carried over to the online more. However, Australia isn't included as a specific region. Duels can be against random players or against friends, though you'll need those pesky friend codes to get going. While the duels are at a slower pace, due to there being two human players, the connections that we had were solid and it's an excellent addition to this series. However, it is somewhat an obvious addition and some form of communication with your opponent, such as voice com, would have been welcome. However, we do recommend assembling a decent deck before going online, there are some experienced fellows out there now.

Graphically, Yu-gi-oh! games have always been underachievers. They have always been complemented by a nice style and functional interface but technically have never been outstanding. Yu-gi-oh! GX: Spirit Caller makes some technical improvement over Nightmare Troubadour with a greater variety of in-duel environments and more frames into the animations. The style is faithful but not as endearing as the original series, as the scope is much more limited. Still, there are some areas of the game that could do with a bit more, especially with the low quality card scans. We really expect to be able to at least make out the card name and amount of stars with any issues. In terms of sound, this is the first time that the handheld games have had some decent quality music. Such is the result of Konami using the larger DS card. It pays off because for the first time in the series, the sound is worth keeping on. That is, despite the fact that there are still no voices and the sound effects are rather limited.

With quite a bit of a gap between recent Yu-gi-oh! releases, eager duelists are probably hungry for some action. Now that there are two, both with online, prospective players are faced with a choice. Yu-gi-oh! GX: Spirit Caller is the one for the hardcore fans. The light story drive and interface are the ones that will appeal most to those fans. While the game really is just duel and occasional deck construction, it can be fun and engaging, particularly with the strategies and massive momentum shifts. And now it can be played online. If you've never liked card games, don't bother with this game. It's not going to change your mind. Apart from the fact that the game has barely changed at its core and that the GX series is weaker than the original, the big fans of Yu-gi-oh! will probably go nuts for this latest addition, especially if you haven't played the previous titles.
The Score
Yu-gi-oh! GX Spirit Caller will give the fans just what they want. A fun portable way of enjoying their favourite card game and much cheaper than investing in the physical cards. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
pretty nice, its looking better than one i had before which i played for 2 minutes before snapping the cartrige and handing it back to my lil sis >.> lol 30 dollars well spent in buying her a replacement.
6 years ago
Can't they let Yu-Gi-Oh die now? Don't they realise that most kids aren't interested?
6 years ago
El Taco wrote
Can't they let Yu-Gi-Oh die now? Don't they realise that most kids aren't interested?
really i thought it was quite popular still. It has to be still bringing out boosters and stuff. Regarding the game i have it and love it hehe icon_smile.gif i really enjoy this game
6 years ago
isn't there a newer version out now that's slightly even better?

World Championship or something arather...

Cause i have the original Nightmare Troubadour (which i enjoyed), but want the next newest or best one available
6 years ago
Yeah it is the World Championship 2007 for the ds and yeah it's way better than this game. Not saying this game is bad i really liked it but yeah icon_smile.gif
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