Let me start by admitting that I have only played the physical card game a handful of times. However, I have played other Video Game versions of this, specifically I played (and beat) The Sacred Cards (which was in a double pack I got used at GameStop), along with some of Reshef of Destruction. Since these games were basically identical (you are a duelist running around battling other duelists winning cards and cash to buy more cards), I assumed the Xbox Version, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Decade Duels, would be more of the same.
I was wrong.
When you launch the game for the first time, you are given a deck, though if you want to know what cards are in it, you will need to go to Deck Edit, rather than starting the game. Starting the game immediately launches a preliminary tournament, in which you fight 3 other duelists. If you beat all 3, you go onto the next stage which switches from single matches to bracketed 3 round battles. As this is bracketed, it is a single elimination situation. You lose your 2 out of 3, you have to start all over at the prelims, which can be a bit frustrating.
When you win, you get a “Character Recipe”, which is basically a list of all the cards that the person you just beat was using. You do not get a copy of their deck. You do however get a small assortment of cards, which seems to vary (according to xbox’s forums it is based on the number of points you score). If you instead lose, you get a smaller assortment of cards (which I presume is also based on points) and no recipe. Currently, this is the ONLY way to get new cards, although they are planning to offer users the “opportunity to purchase additional card packs through XBOX Live Arcade Marketplace to expand [their] deck”. So your choices will be grind or buy… that is less than exciting.
Before you start a duel, you get to select which deck or recipe to use. The first tab has the current state of your deck, along with any recipes you have created, while the second tab contains those character recipes you have unlocked. NOTE: If you do not yet have all the cards for those recipes, they will be grayed out and not selectable.
Once you start a duel, the computer will switch between going insanely fast and pausing to ask you if you want to do something every 2 seconds. The former happens… most of the time, while the latter seems to occur whenever you have a Quick Play Spell in your hand, or a Trap on the field. It gets really annoying really fast, but I would much rather have that happen than see a blur of motion that results in the computer suddenly having 3 new creatures on the board. This will seriously frustrate you and it will happen OVER AND OVER.
As I have mentioned before, I also have Magic: the Gathering Duel of the Planeswalkers on my Xbox. Whenever your opponent does something, you have the opportunity to interrupt (by pressing X), or you can at least examine what card they are playing (by pulling on the Right Trigger). This makes it very easy to understand what is going on and whether or not you want to interrupt. At times, it can get frustrating, because it will wait a few seconds to see if you want to interrupt, but I don’t mind, because I like being able to see what the h-e-double hockey sticks is happening!
I cannot understand how this game got released like this. It never had an official release date; and, yes, many people were complaining that it was taking forever to come out. I (foolishly) assumed it was because they were working on delivering a solid product. In its current state, it is incredibly difficult to play.
It seems to me it would be very simple to fix this flaw, just introduce a delay between actions, so that the player can see what it is the computer is doing, rather than suddenly finding themselves wondering what just happened. If they have time after that, maybe add in functionality similar to Duel of the Planeswalkers and use Right Trigger to see the last card played, allowing the user to then scroll though them (though to be fair this would be technically difficult as you would need to create a playback stack).
One good thing I will say about this is that it has a great tutorial. It is divided into 17 chapters and really seems to help explain how to play the game (something I definitely needed). Whomever programmed that bit did a spectacular job.
In conclusion, I’d say that Yu-Gi-Oh fans should wait a bit before getting this game. Hopefully, when they do their DLC next month they will have some fixes for the problems I mentioned above. If you are someone who is super excited about all things Yu-Gi-Oh, then do yourself a favor and try the demo before you buy the game.
UPDATE [11/21/2012]: Major Nelson just pointed out that the game is back. There wasn’t any mention of why it disappeared for over a year, but it is now back.
UPDATE [2/13/2013]: It is back again, after disappearing shortly after its previous reappeance, this time it is “Plus”. Still no mention of why it was delisted.