Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution — A Duelist's Paradise
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game has enveloped my life on multiple occasions, but the video game offerings have always been sub-par. That was until Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution came along on Nintendo Switch last week.
Firstly, before we go any further, let’s address the troublingly long name: Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution (hereafter called Link Evolution for simplicity) is essentially the “Deluxe Edition” of Legacy of the Duelist, a title that has already been on PS4, Xbox One, and PC for a few years.
Legacy of the Duelist received mixed reviews as it featured a slow trickle of paid DLC, but Link Evolution bundles these all together for the reasonable price of $40.
As a result, Link Evolution is absolutely brimming with content, with a nice mixture of old and new. The primary draw is the campaign mode, which summarizes each Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime season into a series of one-off duels, interspersed with brief dialogue segments with static character models above textboxes to move the story forward.
This is an excellent way to get up to speed if you’re unfamiliar with the full Yu-Gi-Oh! storyline. It's also a nostalgia-filled rollercoaster for long-serving veterans. Whether it’s Yugi facing off against Seto Kaiba over the fabled Blue-Eyes White Dragon, or something more recent, these are all familiar duels for fans of the TV show.
Aside from being a fun trip down memory lane, the campaign is also a requirement if you want to build your own custom decks. Campaign missions will unlock new booster packs for you to buy with Duel Points (DP), the in-game currency. It’s fantastic that there are no microtransactions in sight, but the booster pack solution has it’s own teething problems.
Not only can you get several duplicates of cards you already own — well beyond the limit of three copies per card that are allowed in a deck — but it can also take a long time to find specific cards you’re looking for. The boosters each have hundreds of possible cards to unlock, and you can only open 8-card boosters one at a time.
Unlocking the boosters by playing the campaign is also a nuisance if you’re primarily looking for multiplayer matches, but thankfully, you can play each series separately. This means active TCG players can quickly jump into the VRAINS duels to unlock the boosters featuring Orcusts and Cyberse monsters, for instance.
The fun doesn’t stop there, though, with sealed and draft play both available, along with online and local multiplayer. These are all excellent additions that help round Link Evolution into a more complete game than previous digital Yu-Gi-Oh! entries.
However, there are some hiccups to be found along the way. The audio, for example, does let Link Evolution down a little. The music and sound effects, though high in aural quality, can get repetitive before long. It’s also a shame that there’s no voice acting during the dialogue segments of the campaign, but that probably would have been a licensing nightmare anyway. This does mean that there’s no harm in playing with the sound off entirely, though, which makes it perfect for quick duels on public transport.
There is another downside of Link Evolution as well, but it’s almost a necessary evil. I’m talking, of course, about the lack of tactility in a virtual TCG. There’s a certain allure to playing games like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic the Gathering, or the Pokemon TCG in person.
Link Evolution, like every official Yu-Gi-Oh! title before it, can’t match the tactile feeling of holding the cards or the nerve-wracking tension of live play, and while the automatic shuffles and instant searches are often a significant boon, the response popups here are still an ordeal. On the default setting, Link Evolution will prompt you roughly 10 times per turn if you want to activate a trap or quick effect. Other options exist to counteract this, but they aren’t without their own shortcomings.
Even with these irksome issues, though, Yu-Gi-Oh! is still a fantastic deck-building TCG title, and the portability of a game like Link Evolution can’t be understated. It's great for theory-crafting and playtesting new builds, ideal for someone that doesn’t have enough time to keep up with the ever-changing card game, and the perfect entry point for beginners.
There are tutorials to explain all of the game’s mechanics, both new and old, which are concise but effective. You also have the option to play with character-themed decks in story mode if you don’t feel like constructing your own decks, though it also gives you some generic structure decks to improve if you’re not sure where to start constructing. Sealed and draft play modes are also brilliant learning tools for anyone looking to improve, so there’s a bit of something for everyone.
The performance has been spotless on the Switch so far, too, and the graphics are all vivid and authentic. Iconic cards like the Blue Eyes White Dragon and Number 39: Utopia even have their own entrance animations. Though these can get old for more mature players, this is a charming touch that is sure to wow a younger audience.
- The campaign is a fun trip back through time to enjoy each series of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TV show
- Efficient tutorials help newcomers brush up on the current rules
- Over 9000 cards included and not a microtransaction in sight
- Tons of content, including sealed and draft play, plus local and online multiplayer
- Collecting individual cards that you need can be an absolute chore
- Mechanics are unforgiving if you make a misinput
Whether you’re reliving childhood memories of card-swapping on the playground, brushing up on your latest TCG builds, or coming into Yu-Gi-Oh! completely fresh, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is the best game you’ll find.
At $40, the entry price may seem high, but there’s well over 30 hours of single-player content available, various multiplayer options, and no microtransactions in sight.
If this has whet your Yu-Gi-Oh! appetite, why not check out our other Yu-Gi-Oh! coverage, here.
[Note: A copy of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution was provided by Konami for the purpose of this review.]