Review by jackyccm

"Where's The Passion?"

I have been eagerly awaiting Konami's next installment to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Power Of Chaos series: Joey The Passion. After the impressive follow-up to Yugi The Destiny with Kaiba The Revenge, I had high hopes for Joey The Passion. I was expecting to have good laughs with Joey's antiques, just like what we have seen on the TV series. However, that is not to be.

First off, when you start the game, after the two Konami splash screens, you will be notified that this game is encoded with Dolby Pro Logic II. Then as we arrive at the Main Menu, you will notice that the dueling venue is going to take place on the street. Well it figures, considering Joey's past. You will also notice that the music sounds like a little mix between R&B and Jamaican. It's quite refreshing actually. The options within the Main Menu are still the same, but there has been a few changes to the Duel Mode and Options Screen.

In the Options screen, you can now choose to have the CPU (Joey) to use only the cards from Joey The Passion, or from the entire card collection of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Power of Chaos series. You can also toggle between permitting the usage of Forbidden Cards like the almighty Exodia cards. This is a welcome, since even in the real physical trading card game, we sometimes agree not to have the Forbidden Cards included in the game. It is just too annoying when you have devised the perfect strategy to win only to be cut short by the an automatic win.

In the Duel mode screen, you will notice two visible differences. One is the addition of the Duelist Level. Now you will know how well you fare against the CPU. The next addition, which is probably the only thing worthwhile about this installment (except for the new cards), is the support for two-player gaming over a local area network (LAN). Finally you can duel someone other than the artificial intelligence. However, you still cannot connect to another player via the Internet though. Maybe in the next installment.

Speaking of artificial intelligence, there is nothing much to boast about it in this game. I can't lose to Joey unless I try hard enough. At this point, regardless of how much I dislike Kaiba (in the TV series), I have to agree with him that Joey is a third-rate duelist not worthy of our time. The game posed no challenge at all. I could win with the supplied deck, the first time I play it, without breaking a sweat. Perhaps this is good for beginners where they can practice their skills before going up against Kaiba or Yugi. Also, Joey's deck doesn't look like Joey's deck as seen on the TV series. I haven't seen his famous Time Wizard or his formidable Red Eyes Black Dragon, although I did have a close-call with his Jinzo. Instead, I see Dunames Dark Witch and Harpie's Brother, which were supposed to be in Ishtar's and Mai's deck respectively. Joey would also sometimes summon a weaker monster in attack mode. One of the worst experiences came when Joey summoned a weaker monster in attack mode, and then set a Trap Card. I thought he was luring me to attack him, so I did, just to see what he would do. Turns out it was a bluff, but I don't think it was intentional.

Graphic wise, there wasn't anything impressive about the game. The duel field is a mere chalk lines on the pavement, with a few bricks and cans thrown in. However, this works well with Field-Effect Spell Cards, because it really creates a sense of a different dueling environment. The fluidity of the graphics are smooth and speedy, with little or no jerkings. However, when played on my 3-years old laptop, the Hand-Selection screen slowed down so much I thought the game was imperfectly made. Luckily it was not so. We will also get to see a few 3D effects in this game, particularly when Dice cards (Skull Dice and Graceful Dice) are activated. The artwork is excellent, as always, although there are not that many different artworks to see.

The implementation of Dolby Pro Logic II gave the game a good multi-channel sound reproduction. I did not use a four -point speaker system therefore I am not sure if the game really produces surround sound, but I was impressed with the very distinct stereo sounds coming out of my two tiny laptop speakers. This is a certain improvement from the previous two installments. However, it is also perhaps because of this that the speech was awfully soft, hinting that maybe the sound compression was done a little too much. I could barely hear Joey's taunts. You have to really turn up the volume for this game. Also, Joey didn't have that many lines, and when he does, he speaks awfully fast. I guess he has to, since his lines are all so long. They are also not that funny, although still entertaining. In comparison, I'll rather hear Kaiba's egoistic remarks and screams (especially his 'How Dare You!'). Great dubbing by the same voice-actor from the TV series either way. Music is refreshing and laid back, not as intense as Kaiba's or as mysterious as Yugi's, and the switch of music when Life Points difference are over 3000 is smooth and evident. It's also nice to know that this time around, you don't have to hear 'I'll set this card face down' every time Joey sets a Spell or Trap Card.

Duel wise, there has been a very nice addition. In the previous games, especially with my duels with Kaiba, anytime I have a glimpse at his hand or the face-down cards on the field, I can memorise their positions, hence I will know exactly which card it is when he plays it face down. However, in Joey The Passion, every time you get a glimpse on any face-down cards, or any cards on either player's hand, a shuffle of the cards will be activated so you won't be able to memorise the position of the cards. This adds the challenge up a notch, but still nowhere near challenging (for me at least).

This game is not an expansion pack, but a full game on its own, although it can detect and import the cards from the previous two installments for use with this game. However, if you want to switch opponents, you will still have to start the three games independently.

I have yet to complete the game, but I think I encountered some bugs in the game. Most evidently would be the automatic effects of cards did not activate themselves when they should have been activated, and Joey will sometimes just summon a stronger Monster Card in attack mode and does not attack.

All in all, this game is good for the extra cards and for beginners to learn the game, but maybe it should have been released before Kaiba The Revenge. The reasons being it is too easy for those who have beaten Kaiba The Revenge, and the fact that Joey being the third-rate duelist that he is, should really not come after such a grand performance by Kaiba.

Judgement:

Design: Funky street-wise design. There's nothing much to say about the design except that it is simple, but it works for the game. You will feel like a kid playing cards on the roadside. It does have it's appeal when you come to think about it.

Gameplay: Point-and-Click with either the mouse or the keyboard. Offers a great environment to train up ones dueling skill but may not be challenging enough for advanced players.

Graphics: Smooth DirectX 9 rendering of both 2D and 3D objects. May run slow on older PCs but it is still very solid overall.

Sound: Employing Dolby Pro Logic II, you get some very nice discreet channeling of sounds, especially if you are using a four-points speaker system. If my laptop speakers can produce clear stereo sound (which I don't even hear when listening to music), then you can be sure that the sound reproduction is of absolute quality here. The only drawback here is that you have to turn the volume up a lot, probably due to compression from the encoding process. Perhaps we should have been given a choice of whether or not to use the Dolby Pro Logic II sound system.

Replayability: I suppose I will go back to Kaiba The Revenge more, but if you want to collect all the cards, then this game will still offer you many hours of gameplay in order to collect all 350 of them.

Strength: Introduction of 2-player LAN gaming.

Weaknesses: No Internet dueling. No connection between the two previous installments, although any collection of cards that you have are automatically imported to the new game.

Conclusion: If you are a fan of the TV series or the trading card game, then you can consider buying this game. Otherwise, you might want to give it a pass. If you are a beginner trying to learn the game, then this is a good buy when compared with Yugi The Destiny and Kaiba The Revenge. You get lots of cards, tutorials on the game, and a weak duelist.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/03/04


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