Review by Dan_pentagram

"Chess in Game, Chess Like Nature"

To date there are a whopping 43 Yu-Gi-OH! game titles across some of the more widely known consoles. This one is not one of the first but signifies a change in the typical structure that Yu-Gi-Oh fans would expect to see. Sporting original anime graphics and gameplay mechanics totally unique, one has to wonder if it can reach out across the horizon and grab a hold of non Yu-Gi-Oh! Fans? Is it successful and daringly addictive?

Well rather unoriginally the game is based on a mini series known as Capsule Monsters, created for digital children's TV. The game itself if based upon the up and coming Capsule Monster Tournament where upon winning the acclaimed round robin the prestigious title of King of Capsule Monsters would be bestowed upon them. Arriving at different locations means Yu Gi not only has to battle his enemies but also his friends and so it becomes a journey, an important stop along his way to becoming a Duel Master. There are twenty five opponents in fact and is by no means an easy feat to reaching the final. Can Yu Gi find the strength and belief in his monsters to win? Only your moves can decide.

I think I would have liked to have seen a more intense and detailed storyline here, a perfect opportunity for the creators to show some of their creative powers to full extent. Unfortunately it mostly just focuses on moving from person to person to win the trophy. It isn't awful don't get me wrong, its overly simple for younger gamers to comprehend whilst also progressing in terms of structure, just enough for the more experienced gamer to find some relief. The lack of movement means side quests and other enticing interests a lot of games offer are nowhere to be seen, sadly. A dialogue between Yu Gi and the opponent is used mostly to not only introduce themselves but also as a way to progress the story on a little farther.

It is nice to see (if you're a fan of course) a lot of characters from the Yu-Gi-Oh! world making an appearance here. Friends such as Joey, Tristan and Mai Valentine all put up a hefty defence in your quest whilst known enemies such as Bandit Keith, Weevil Underwood and Yami Marek all add to the tensions a game like this produces. Despite the lack of an in depth real story to get your teeth into, these individual duels act as a sort of boss battle each giving the game a more personal feel.

Well as already mentioned this game tends to divert in an almost U-turn shape to offer gameplay unlike any Yu-Gi-Oh! before it. Gone are the cards, gone are the traps, gone are the magic as if a slight breeze blew them all away. Here you get capsules, monster capsules to be really specific. Shaped almost like statues, when put in play the capsules hatch out the monster it represents and then we are off! It's obviously specifically directed just like the TV programme, but what it does do is offer something very new to a world already set out with rules and boundaries. Each capsule is allotted a certain amount of moves and moves across a board (or area) to attack the opposing team. By wiping out the entire opponent's capsules or reducing their Health Points, as it were, to zero the match is consequently won.

It sounds just like the usual Yu-Gi-Oh! banter, but in fact utilises a sort of chess feel to it. Pieces can move in precise directions and spaces. Different monsters can move two spaces but only in a diagonal direction, whereas others can only move once but in a horizontal way. After a while it's pretty monotonous, but ultimately as a strategy game it presents the gamer with options as to which move or monster they would like to make. This turn based gameplay does offer a brain challenge, what would happen if I moved this piece? Or would it be better to go this way? The choice is entirely up to you, which in one way of looking at things opens up the game to a non-linear feel.

The problem with this is really the computer AI that usually goes for the same moves each time. Strategy is a must but it doesn't give you as many options to choose from as first impressions tell. Opponents will usually either go in for an all out attack or simply lie in wait for you to do all the hard work. Sometimes covering the ground and moving along the area is the hard part. Elements are assigned to each monster however such as Earth, Fire, Wind etc and in true Pokemon style all having their own strengths and weaknesses. Water is great against fire for instance where as it in itself is tragically bad against Thunder. Area's have an element as well often giving the same elemental monsters a plus in attack power, so thinking about elemental advantages will help you in your quest to move forward.

I think the main problem is that despite the chess like feel, we simply have seen it all before and with only around 220 monsters to build your own army with, there simply isn't enough choice for a game based on options. Other titles have around 2000 cards to choose from and so it becomes obvious that some of the more interesting concepts of Yu-Gi-Oh! such as trap cards to counter attacks with and special abilities assigned to certain monsters often leave a meteorite sized hole in a game that relies on moving up and down and attacking using the same attacks over and over again. It tries to add a flavour of persuasion into it by allowing capsules to gain experience points if they defeat an opponent monster, but the level up system doesn't give many rewards. The fusion abilities are also a far reality away from previous instalments because they are just too few and far between. It just doesn't explain itself very well putting faith into the gamer as if they instantly know what to do because they hope they have watched the show.

If there is one thing I'd have to hold my hands up to confess to is the wonderful graphics taken straight from the silver screen. Line and colours flood the characters to bring their 2D selves to life. But amidst the lovely cartoon, pretty much the rest of the effects are bland. Lame detail-less arenas suck the atmosphere right away leaving a pit of fake rushed 3D monsters that suffer from jagged outlines and fused detail. It is a disappointment because it becomes obvious that it relies too much on the franchise, yet that's really no surprise.

Battle animation doesn't improve much either I'm afraid. Dodgy bulkiness creates a stiff environment with camp monster moves that results in overly dramatic nonsense. It's here that it really looses the fight with originality because it just doesn't look fun. It looks silly and never changes, which means you'll be rushing to turn the option ‘Battle Animation' to its off position.

You'll be lucky to hear much background music here whilst battling also as it most often just doesn't come. When it does it's your average lame effects that lack any tension or purpose. It's boring and what this ultimately does is not provide any excitement into the gameplay. Great games join sound effects to addictive gameplay to create an intertwining branch of excitement and play ability. Sadly this isn't one of those great games. It does host the real voices from the show which is something at least.

It does support a multiplayer option where from their own memory cards, players load their decks / army to fight one another. This can give you a real challenge, yet an online option would have faired much better. Probably the worst thing you'll discover though is to find someone who actually has this. It didn't sell really well, never reaching platinum status unlike it's predecessor Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelist of the Roses.

So it becomes apparent that the question has been answered. Tragically, no it does not appeal to anyone outside the fan base. It's boring and dull plagued by awful 3D mechanics and limited gameplay that relies on being part of a best selling franchise. You'll soon realise its not addictive nor original and suffers from its chess like feel. A strategy game like this should offer choices or options to test ones ability but sadly it falls way too short of the mark with a lack of monsters and a lack of challenging varieties. There are better strategy games available, yet again there are better Yu-Gi-Oh! games available. Stay clear of this one, its pointless with no replay value and far too expensive than its worth, it may be rare to find now but some things should remain buried.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 06/22/09

Game Release: Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum (EU, 02/18/05)

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