Friendship Force 5!
Weak storyline masks intense card-battles
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Oh Yu-Gi-Oh, I remember when you first came to the states. You were one of the many fads from my childhood that I grew out of eventually. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy you as a kid, but when I got older the series lost touch with me. This is probably due to the anime, which was so filled with overly joyous friendship filled animations that even Mr. Rogers would feel sick watching it. Let us also not forget the card game that was in its early stages and was constantly being refined so that I had to learn new rules every few weeks.
I loved all of this as a kid though; I'm just putting it into retrospect and realizing how much of my parents' money I wasted to buy cards that are now laying in a box in my parents' house somewhere.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Tag Force 5 follows a story arc running in the current Yu-Gi-Oh anime and much like its ancestor the whole point of the game is friendship and card battles. Being that the story is meant for children I should probably overlook just how shallow it is, but there are just some things that I can't bring myself to ignore.
As I'm sure you've guessed by the title of the game the main point is tag battles. Any time you do a story event it's going to be in a tag battle. The tag system is...hmmm... more on that later, but the way they come up with your opponents stupefies me. After you track down the villains you'll find that another of the good guys is already there confronting them. You jump in to help...but hold on there! Even though this obviously evil man who is physically assaulting people (mostly children) in card battles (don't ask) is right in front of us and with our combined efforts the three of us could tear him apart, we're not going to do that. You see that would be cheating, so instead one of your comrades will join with him to do a tag battle against you and your partner.
What?!? First of all if a grown man is going around and physically assaulting children while they play a card battle game, why are we treating him fairly? Secondly why are we card-battling him in the first place? Someone grab a baseball bat and let's smash his fingers up and then see if he still wants to have a card battle.
The story of this game is trash, plain and simple. That being said though, there's more to this game than meets the eye (no it doesn't transform).
The card battling itself is really legit (better than I remember it being as a kid). You can build some decks that require a decent amount of strategy to use or others that just rely off of brute force, and really this is the main focus of the game. There are many different NPC's available to duel against so you'll get a good bit of time just out there running around and dueling random NPC's.
At first this will mostly be you getting your backside handed to you because the game saw it fit to give you a really bad deck to start. And the NPC's with their great decks, which they perfectly know how to execute and never make a mistake (that hasn't changed since my childhood) will cream you.
That being said it sounds like a great idea to team up with an NPC to help you through some battles. Well there is a problem there. See, while the NPC's are brilliant when by themselves, in a team they are more than happy to throw out a weak monster in attack position so that we take absurd amounts of damage when the other NPC's begin to slaughter the poor little thing in the next turn.
Teaming up with an NPC early on isn't a good idea. So basically just find those two or three kids you can beat and keep dueling them for awhile to build up your DP (Duel Points).
After collecting a substantial amount of DP you can buy booster packs to assemble new decks with or revise the one you're using. Besides booster packs, you can also buy gifts with your DP. You give the gifts to fellow Duelists to help build your friendship level.
Building friendship with characters requires you to give them gifts and play small mini-games with them. These mini games are quick and simple so luckily you won't be playing them for extended periods of time. My only qualm with making friends is that when you increase your friendship level this results in an animation of a heart sitting by the characters head beating faster. So after holding conversation with some of the guys in the game I started to feel really weird when they blushed at my compliments, their hearts would beat faster, and then they would say we share a strong bond. This has resulted in me spending my time talking to female characters instead. Sure either way you look at it you're a pedophile, but at least I can be a straight pedophile, that makes it better, Right? (Yeah didn't think so).
Awkward friendships aside the graphics in the game are appealing. While navigating the field you and all other characters are represented by a 2-D sprite that is drawn in the chibi (small body, big head, overly cute) style found in much Japanese media. It's easy on the eyes and doesn't leave you insulted by an attempt at mediocre 3D graphics that can be found in many PSP titles.
The audio that is in the game is exactly what you would expect. Generic battle music, which honestly is okay, most people who play this game are playing it either because they like the show or they like card battle games so I'm sure they couldn't care less about the music that plays in the background (I sometimes didn't even notice it was playing).
My advice is to drop the $40 on the game if you like card battle games. Instead of buying cards and trying to track down all of those rare ones you could just buy this game and have access to all the cards and a few other cards that are game exclusives. It's a win-win situation. Just ignore the awkward friendships and ridiculous storyline and there is a really solid card battle game to be found here.
Editor's Note: Game reviewed on a Sony PSP.
Billy loves nothing more than leveling and grinding through a good RPG. And he knows that Time Waster is not a negative term when it comes to games. : email@example.com.