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Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds Stardust Accelerator: World Championship 2009

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Card Games/ Racing/ Family

Graphics & Sound:

For the purists, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Stardust Accelerator: World Championship 2009 is the best current example of that traditional card action we've come to love, plus a pinch of racing action to update the game. We've played Yu-Gi-Oh! in many forms over the years, including the old-fashioned way with cards on the kitchen table, and we think the DS is a good platform for this game. The two screens solve one of the thornier problems facing videogame conversions of card games, which is how to show the field-of-play without losing the detail on each individual card. Even the relatively unsophisticated DS screen does a fine job displaying the illustration for each card, along with the flavor text and instructions. There is even a handy feature that lets you scroll longer instructions by hitting the (Y) button, as you view a card in the top screen. On the bottom screen, you'll keep a view of the playing field, and our only gripe about the small, pixelated graphics here is that you can barely tell whether a card is in attack or defense position. The orientation of each card's color bars (on the top and bottom) sometimes helps, but the developers went a step further; scrolling over your opponent's cards during a lull in the action shows either the ATK or DEF number highlighted. This is a workaround, to be sure, but it gets the job done.

Including many settings and characters from the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's series, Stardust Accelerator does a good job incorporating the racing action from the show. New cards are featured, true to the changes made to the game by way of this new series, so fans will have a chance to sample the new Tuner and Synchro monsters. You can even connect through DS Download to the Wii version (Yu-Gi -Oh! 5D's Wheelie Breakers) and grab special "Speed World" cards that are a nod to the revamped dueling in the series, via Duel Runner races. Much like previous installments of the game on portable consoles, Stardust Accelerator focuses heavily on exploring your world, interacting with characters, and dueling to build up your skills and your deck. Browsing cards in your collection is visually unexciting, but the ability to drag-and-drop cards is a major advantage made possible by the DS touch technology. A fair amount of effort was placed into designing the game's levels, but more went into the battle effects, dialogue, and music. Little touches make a big impact, like the option to customize the dialogue that appears during battles. You can select from a list of hilarious personas, each with its own list of battle comments. There is a lot of personality that comes through in Stardust Accelerator, and as you get into the gameplay, you'll find that there's plenty of good stuff behind all the pretty window dressing.


Stardust Accelerator lets you explore the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's world and create your own story, while interacting with many of the show's characters like Yusei Fudo and the Satellite gang. The game picks up after an unknown event has robbed you of your memory - if we had a nickel for every time this plot device was used, we'd be sipping umbrella drinks on the beach rather than writing this review - and you find yourself stranded in a down-and-out part of town. You quickly make friends, display your prowess in dueling, and work your way up to prominence in a combination of traditional card-playing and racing. Unlike the recent Wii installment from this series, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Wheelie Breakers, the primary focus in Stardust Accelerator is on traditional card battles. The racing component makes its way in, but you'll have to partake in a series of card battles to earn back your Duel Runner and get on the track.

The multiplayer is well implemented, if not capable of online play. You can initiate a duel from the main screen, jumping into battle with a CPU-controlled or human opponent. The alternative is 5D's Story Mode, where you'll play solo. You can purchase cards from stores in the game, or use passwords derived from the real-world cards to access them directly, assuming you have sufficient credit. Credit is earned from dueling, and can be awarded for a variety of reasons; the points awarded can feel a bit like Xbox Live achievements, because you'll find rewards for doing all kinds of things during battle. The mechanics of manipulating your cards is smooth enough, thanks to touch-screen controls, but once you develop a large supply, it can be a full-time job organizing the decks. Thankfully, recipes can be saved and loaded to make this easier.


There is a good tutorial built into World Championship (multiplayer) Mode, for players coming to Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's for the first time. At its heart, Yu-Gi-Oh! doesn't have complicated rules. Higher attack beats lower attack or lower defense, and you're off to the races, right? Well... over the years, the game has become more and more complicated, so that newer players may feel a bit like they're trying to jump on a moving train. Adding Synchro and Tuner Monsters along with the typical Fusion Monsters brings another layer of complexity, and seasoned players are used to the various interactions between the element, type, and class of monster in battle. Layering Spell and Trap cards, combined with Effect Monsters, combined with Tribute Summons... it really can be a blur if you haven't spent some time playing the game in some form previously. There are sample recipes that help to move you along in building decks that go beyond the decent Starter you're provided at the outset. Nice touches help newbies and veterans alike, such as percentage-of-completion numbers showing how close you are to collecting all the cards for these recipes. In the end, once you know how to use a particular deck, losing to the same character a few times means you need to change up your recipe.

Game Mechanics:

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Stardust Accelerator: World Championship 2009 suffers from a bit of clutter on the dueling screen, with unnecessary indicators for every phase of battle. Do we really need to see little "BP" and "MP" lights and icons, when we have the same indicators available during our turn just by pressing (B), and when we also see text announcing the beginning of each phase during our turn and our opponent's turn? The top and bottom screen are used intelligently, but the actual field of play could have been simplified. There are options to automate setting of cards and chaining cards through a tap on the screen or a button-press, and you never have to spend time in submenus during battle. The menus you'll navigate while exploring are kept fairly simple and mostly revolve around sliding cards in an out of your various decks. The option to use a drag-and-drop mechanic for this is brilliant, and shows off the difference between playing on the DS and everywhere else. The racing controls are very stripped down and comparable to every other arcade racing title you've ever played on DS, with one button to go and one button to stop...

We'll take Stardust Accelerator: World Championship 2009 over any other Yu-Gi-Oh! out there right now, setting aside its weaker graphics and watered-down racing action. Fans of the show that really, really want more racing action can find it on the Wii version of this game, but they'll sacrifice all the depth of the card game. Devotees of the traditional card action will enjoy the focus placed on old-fashioned dueling in Stardust Accelerator and the DS proves to be a solid platform for the action.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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