Yu Gi Oh: Duelists of the Roses – PS2
Platform: PlayStation 2
Release Date (NA): February 16, 2003
Nerd Rating: 4.5/10
I seem to have had a lot of confessions made during my tenure at the Bacon. I’ve confessed to being a closet sports fan, and a fan of professional wrestling. What else could I possibly confess to? Well, turns out, I’ve been a huge nerd for the Yu-Gi-Oh card game from a young age, and still am.
The strategy, the fun, the players – all of it has just been a huge part of not only my childhood, but my high school days as well. Although the game has somewhat lost its luster over the years with all of its expansions on rules and card types, I still like to go back and duel every now and again. Sometimes though, as a kid, I couldn’t find a whole lot of people to duel all of the time. What was a young Abyssal to do? Well, luckily for myself, there were video games made! Most of them pretty loyally following how the card game played out. There were some, however, like today’s subject, that kind of took a different route. Our subject for today, Duelists of the Roses created a unique, and yet not so well received gameplay style loosely based on the popular card game.
With a story mode based on the actual English War of the Roses, you play as a duelist summoned from the future by characters from the anime. They all go by the same names, but they’re actually historical people divided up into two factions. The faction of the White Rose headed by Kaiba and YuGiOh villains, and the faction of the Red Rose, headed by Yugi and the other heroes of the series. Everything starts off rather fast, but there is a nice opening cinematic that does explain the story well enough for you to understand.
The story here is odd to say the least, as I never thought I’d be combining my European history with my children’s card games, but it works well enough. The characters all seem to retain most of their personality traits from the television series, and the story progresses decently, with two different “timelines” happening depending on the side you take. All of it executed better than what one could possibly expect, and for that, this game definitely gets some props from me at the story front. Decent writing, loyalty to the series, and branching paths really contribute to an enjoyable storytelling experience.
Now for the bad. Oh my goodness is the gameplay a mess. Does that necessarily mean its bad? No. Actually after mastering the game, I found it very enjoyable to play, but put the underlining there on “mastering.” Mastering is the key term because that is absolutely what you will have to do to get any enjoyment out of this flooded and misguided gameplay. To play the game, you start a journey to different parts of the United Kingdom area, “dueling” foes along the way.
This isn’t dueling in the traditional sense though. The game, from the beginning, makes it evident that you won’t be playing your typical YuGiOh experience here. Instead, you choose a deck master that acts as a foundation for your entire “deck” and you play the card game almost like a board game. You summon monsters to the field, move them around towards your opponent, and try to attack their deck master and deplete their life points.
While not sounding too complex, it gets more difficult when you factor in actual strategy, which you will need to win. What I just explained, by the way, is basically the only thing the game’s tutorial explains to you. It does not go into detail regarding fusions, or any other methods of strategy to winning a game. Instead, you’re thrown right into the fire, as the first opponent you will face on either side is tough as nails to any deck that you may choose. I found myself playing for HOURS. That’s right, HOURS before I was actually able to beat the first fight.
After that, it doesn’t really get any easier. Though you collect cards from opponents you defeat, they’re not always helpful to your overall deck, which you don’t figure out for HOURS of playtime. That’s the word you’ll be using a lot if you decide to play this game. My fiancee would be all, “Jesse, how long have you been playing that game?” My only reply would be an insane look in the eye whilst shouting, “HOURS!” You’ll be playing this game for HOURS if you really have my level of patience for this sort of thing.
The gameplay summed up would be described by me as a “beautiful disaster.” After you figure out the game and your own deck by yourself, with no help from the game, the game itself does get fun. But unfortunately, by then its too late. Even later in the game, the difficulty is unforgiving, and with no option to change it, its a travesty.
The sound design is pretty unimpressive as well, with the sound effects and music sounding straight out of the PS1 era. While I will always hold a special place in my heart for this game, the difficulty and steep learning curve is just too much to realistically expect any player to endure, and because of that, I can not give this game a solid recommendation outside of hardcore fans of the series, or masochists.
A true testament to challenge, this game presents some fun elements but they’re all hidden in a tornado of poor design choices. While there is heart and some decent times to be had, the average player won’t find themselves entertained for too long. The game earns its 4.5/10 rating. Though fun after HOURS of playing, you likely won’t get there without ripping all of your hair out.
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