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Yu-Gi-Oh: Falsebound Kingdom

Score: 40%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: GCD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

In short, Yu Gi Oh: Falsebound Kingdom is a drastic departure from previous Yu Gi Oh games. The Duel Monsters card game has been completely wiped out and replaced with a Poke'mon/RPG style system. Though change may be good, why fix something when it's clearly not broken?

>From the minute you fire up the game, things just don't feel right. The game's story is pushed along by still images and headshots, similar to those found in games from the NES generation. All dialog is presented as scrolling text while annoying music tinkers in the background. Once in the game world, things don't get any better. Although 3D is introduced, there's really not much to see. Maps are flat, lifeless splotches of green, with a few brown, raised areas that represent mountains and some green, puffs that are supposed to be forests. Each area also has a few towns scattered in the area which are about as simple as they come.

On the positive side of things, each of the monsters looks really good and animates well. The transition of the monsters from their 2D representations to full-realized 3D models is great. Now if only the areas they fought in were more interesting to look at. Special effects are bare and consist mostly of simple flashes of multi-colored light.


Yu Gi Oh: Falsebound Kingdom is not what you've come to expect from a Yu Gi Oh game. You don't take part in card battles, nor do you compete in tournaments. Instead, the game takes an entirely different direction by creating an RPG world for players to explore.

The game's plot is a rewritten plot from the two-part series that served as a gap between the Duelist Kingdom and Battle City seasons of the show. Players take the role of either Yu Gi or Seto Kaiba, each of whom have their own paths through the story. The game also features a Joey story line which is unlocked after completing the original two campaigns. The game begins when the two are invited to try out a new virtual reality game developed by a new gaming company. The virtual world takes the Duel Monsters game and transports it into a game world. After jacking into the game, things go wrong and the two are trapped. The two soon discover that they are 'marshals' (which are essentially duelists) in the game's war torn kingdom. In order to escape the virtual world, the two must complete the game.

It's hard to know where to begin explaining the game because, frankly, I still think I'm missing something. After choosing your character and suffering through the slow-moving plot setups, you're taken through an introductory campaign. During these campaigns, you assign a team of three monsters to each of your marshals and command them to attack cities in the area. Travel between cities is painfully slow and really not interesting. Once you get to a city, you must defeat the city's defenders. Here's where the game begins to make no sense.

Battles can be won without killing anyone. Each side has a given number of action points which deplete over the course of the battle. The first team to run out of points loses that battle. After being ejected from the battle, your monsters are given some EXP and the marshal is knocked back a few feet from the city and begins his painful march back to the city, only to attack the same set of monsters again. Battles are eventually won due to attrition. The system is slow, meaningless and just no fun at all. During your forced marches around the kingdom, you will also run across random battles. Of course, the frequency of these battles is low and it is possible to go through the first four scenarios and only face one random battle.

After taking over towns, you can build structures in the town walls. These include things like healers and defensive structures (cannons, walls). Other than healers, building these structures is pointless because they do nothing. For example, after building a cannon system to protect my town, an enemy marshal was still able to walk right up and attack my city. Healers are useful, but expensive.


Half the battle in Yu Gi Oh: Falsebound Kingdom is knowing what the hell is going on. The instruction book is about as useless as they come and does a terrible job of explaining everything that goes on in the game. The in-game tutorials are a little better, but will still leave you with a bewildered look on your face. The battle system is very one-sided and lends little strategy to the game. Winning is just a matter of outlasting the other guy.

Game Mechanics:

You begin the game with three monsters. As you defeat other marshals (or encounter the oh-so-rare random battles), new monsters join your team. Also, your monsters gain EXP and level after battles (the ones where you run out of points, not where you actually win). This, of course, brings up the biggest catch-22 in the entire game. Do you keep your powerful, leveled up monsters or do you knock the power of your team down a notch just so you can use different monsters? This leads to a massive balancing problem with the game.

Winning battles (the ones where you defeat everyone, not where you run out of points) also wins you items, which can be equipped between scenarios. These can include mundane things like healing potions or more useful items like spell books and swords. The glaring problem is that you only have access to your equipment during scenario breaks, meaning you have to possess a sixth sense in order to get any use out of the system.

Combat is conducted through a watered down and confusing RPG combat system. Each of your monsters can attack, defend, use a special move, use an item or run. Unless your monster is equipped with an item, the special move and item options are taken away. After choosing to attack, an icon appears on each enemy - each corresponding to a different face button on the GameCube controller. Pressing the button attacks that particular monster. As you can imagine, this becomes boring after the first three battles ...and I'm not talking about the ones where you actually defeat the other monsters.

Yu Gi Oh: Falsebound Kingdom's problems are numerous and really not worth going into. Overall, the game is just really bad and lacking in nearly every aspect. Maybe if the game had stuck to the Duel Monsters card game format, or at least borrowed some elements from successful card-based RPG's like Lost Kingdom or the upcoming Magic the Gathering: Battlegrounds, it could have gone somewhere. The more I think about it, the rules introduced in the shows the plot is ripped from would have worked. In the end, even the power of the Egyptian God cards can't save this one.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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