Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation, An In-Depth Review

Gameplay: 7/10
Sounds: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10

The most authentic Yu-Gi-Oh! experience for phones and tablets. | Online multiplayer. | A nostalgic single-player campaign.

Some minor performance issues at release. | Card packs bought with earned points are not very strong.

Android, iOS and Tabletop.

Free to Play with in-app purchases, varies for physical game - View on Amazon

October 29,2014


Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation is a virtual simulation of the popular Japanese trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! which is now available for Android and iOS. Having played the TCG competitively since its inception as a kid, I could have only dreamed that one day you could carry around a small device in your pocket that could not only play duels, but against any other person on the planet as well. As the years have gone by, the game has grown into a behemoth with faster and more powerful card effects, while some of the ground rules and mechanics of gameplay have also changed and evolved.

It’s clear that all of the video game implementations so far have always lacked a certain something, whether that be the latest card sets and mechanics or a really decent virtual environment through which to collect and play the game at the competitive level most players engage at. Is that day finally here, with the arrival of Duel Generation? Read on and find out…

Dueling in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation is Konami’s biggest attempt at the mobile app market.

The Basics

Those who are familiar with Yu-Gi-Oh! already may want to skip on ahead to the next section. Otherwise, you might be wondering what this strangely named game is all about. Prepare to be enlightened. Yu-Gi-Oh! (meaning ‘King of Games’) is one of the world’s top three trading card games alongside Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon in terms of popularity and competitive play. It is based on the original Japanese manga series in which a kid possessed by the soul of an Egyptian pharaoh plays a modern card game version of an ancient magical game called Duel Monsters, where priests and pharaohs battled out Shadow Duels with one another.

It’s a lot of summoning and battling with random anime Monsters, casting Spells, and setting devious Trap cards face down which you can then flip over during your opponent’s turn to inflict nasty surprises on them. It’s a heck of a lot of fun for something that is so chaotic, and with many thousands of cards available, the variety of decks is nearly endless since cards never expire from legal play unless they are explicitly banned or limited in number. The mechanics and rules of gameplay are quite different from many games that came before it, so even among other TCGs it is a rather unique experience in and of itself.

Over the years, Yu-Gi-Oh! has developed a highly competitive scene and there are well-attended national and international championship series events that draw in some rather fiercely intelligent players. So if you’re new to the game, you might find it hard to know where to start and be a bit intimidated to boot. This is where Duel Generation comes in, as it is perfectly designed for both the beginner and the veteran alike.

The campaign mode sees you facing a bunch of familiar faces from the TV series.

Game Modes

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation features a few different game modes. There is a single player campaign which takes you through all the generations of characters from the TV shows, gradually increasing in difficulty as you play them and unlock the harder versions of their decks. You will also earn cards along the way. It definitely feels like you’re playing through the stories of the shows as you come across all the well-known figures and their trademark decks. It makes for quite an enjoyable experience overall.

The biggest draw for most people however is going to be the online multiplayer mode. This is where a lot of the action is going to be and many fans are going to judge this game solely by how well it plays online. Rest assured, in my opinion this is the best (official) online Yu-Gi-Oh! experience you’re going to get for phones and tablets, hands down. It just has everything you could possibly want: a strong card pool, accurate rules and gameplay and the challenge of other real people to play against.

You can create Matches to have specific rules such as which Forbidden Cards List you want to use, including none at all, and set a custom level of starting life points. However, most people are going to be interested in the Duel League, which sees you earning ‘YGO points’ to spend in the online store while raising your battle ranking through random match-ups. Games are played according to the normal tournament rules and Ban List, and since it gives out rewards for winning each game, this is likely where you’re going to find most of the players online.

Booster packs can bought with YGO points you earn from winning duels.

Booster packs can bought with YGO points you earn from winning duels.

Other Features

The How to Play and Glossary sections are the most exhaustive we’ve ever seen in a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, covering all possible card types, effects, rules, mechanics and permutations thereof, so if you’re new to the game or have a specific inquiry in mind about a particular rule you’ll definitely be able to find it here. It’s well presented in a range of simple categories and you really can’t get too lost here, but I can see how facing the game as a new player might seem a bit daunting due to just how many rules and effects there are. This section should help with that.

Now, the Deck Editor is in many ways one of the most important parts of the game, so its important that they got this right. It is a very precise tool, although fitting it all onto one page makes it difficult to read and see everything. This is especially the case on smaller phone screens, as every inch of screen space is taken up with a different section and in small text. You are able to filter through all the cards in your collection with exact detail, such as setting up ranges of Attack and Defense points to search with for finding suitable Monsters. If you have bought a deck recipe from the online store, you can quickly and easily load it up and it will construct the deck out of the cards that came with it.

The tool contains every function you could possibly want or need when building decks, I just wish it were a little better organized on the screen, maybe even spread over multiple screens that you had to switch between so that you can more clearly see what you’re doing in larger size. Otherwise, it has been implemented fairly well and gets the job done.

Editing your deck is a bit cluttered, but has everything you could ask for.

Editing your deck is a bit cluttered, but has everything you could ask for.

There are a few other fun little additions in the app as well. You can have a list of friends added which makes it easy to challenge them to a game when they are online. There is a list of achievements you can unlock, like beating certain powerful characters in the campaign. You can also earn yourself different avatars to select as your picture when you’re playing online against others. Lastly, there’s also a weekly ladder challenge that sees you work your way through a string of AI-controlled duelists to get a reward at the end. This makes it feel like there’s a couple more things available for you to do at any given moment other than just playing online.

Minor Issues

As Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation has just been released, there are still some issues that could do with fixing. Even on an iPad mini with retina display, crashes are frequent even when it is the only app running. This is especially frustrating when playing the campaign, as you can lose the whole progress of a match and will have to attempt it again. The game is heavily reliant on having a strong, constant internet connection, which may make it hard for some to play online. Loading times and syncing to the server can often be slow, as can moving through the phases of gameplay itself due to the speed at which things activate and move around on the screen.

Furthermore, having a card frequently ask you if you want to activate it each phase is, while technically required as per the rules, often frustrating for several turns in a row. I’m not sure how else this could be implemented, as it is usually verbally agreed in a face-to-face game when a player wants to trigger something. It is bearable but doesn’t make for the fastest gameplay, and I’ve made mistakes saying “No” when I’ve wanted to say “Yes” instead.

Having to pay for cards is almost a requirement, since all the free cards you can earn are quite weak and difficult to build a good working deck out of. This may turn off some people, however the decks offered in the store are rather cheap, at $5 each. You can find some fairly recent deck types such as Bujins and Spellbooks, but nothing as recent as Shaddolls or Burning Abyss. The selection available forces the overall power level of the game to be lower than the current meta-game, but it is quite fun to play with older deck types that once again have a chance of winning online.

Final thoughts

With the lack of more recent card sets, this will never compare to the paper game as it is. Even recent rule changes such the first turn player not being allowed to draw a card, and the new Pendulum Summons mechanic are missing, leaving the game to feel like it is stuck in the past a bit. But for those looking to get stuck into a proper Yu-Gi-Oh! dueling exprerience on the go, this is the best effort Konami have put forward yet. The music and sound effects from the TV show really flesh out the dueling experience as well with all of the standard sounds from the TV show present. Let’s hope they have the long term life of the game in mind with plans to continually improve and update the game to be more in line with the game as it stands today.

With that said, I definitely recommend checking out Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation as the first complete Yu-Gi-Oh! game available for tablets and mobile devices. Get your game on, because it’s time to d-d-d-duel!

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by
Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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