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The boxart of the game, featuring the greatest sin of all; Dan Green not holding a Dark Magician.

YU-GI-OH: FORBIDDEN MEMORIES

2018 SEP 03

(PS1, 2002)

Once upon a time, there was a manga called Yu-Gi-Oh. Here's a quick summary of the events, as foretold by my ass, because I never actually read the manga, but I watched the Konami anime adaptation. That's the same thing, right?

So once upon a time, archaeologists defiled a sacred Egyptian tomb and found ancient artifacts and a really broken puzzle. While the artifacts were sold to the highest bidder, the puzzle was gambled away repeatedly until it landed in the hands of a 7 year old child who really liked Duel Monsters. So, he traded the puzzle for a Watapon card or some shit, and this little kid named Yugi Motou, who was the shopkeep's grandson, got the puzzle. He spent months trying to solve it until he realized that his friend Jonouchi threw a piece of it into the river nearby. Then the heart of the cards happened or something, I don't know, and Yugi became really hot when he finally solved the puzzle and unlocked the power of becoming the ancient Egyptian pharaoh named Dan Green. With this power, he became the King of All Games That Have Ever Existed and Will Exist in Every Possible Future, making him the best at both Monopoly and Uno. Which, as you all know, is the greatest test of skill that could possibly exist.

Then, it got an anime adaptation by Toei in which the pharaoh was also a maniacal killer, making games again scumbags, in which the other players would inevitably cheat, because they were scumbags, and the proper retribution would be either dropping them to their deaths, burning them alive, ripping off their face, digital pets eating their owners, you know, the kind of stuff that little kids like. And in the background of that was a half-assed game called Duel Monsters, in which players had children's trading cards and dueled each other to the death.

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What the hell is this menu?

These little trading cards are worth a lot of money and the Konami reps at tournaments require your cards to be in mint condition. No bends, no scratches, no wear, nothing that could even hint at what the next card is, so you can't believe in the heart of the cards. It's an expensive hobby, which also has cards going for thousands of dollars, so this is why the video games are immediately superior. Except this one. No matter how much or how little experience you have in Yu-Gi-Oh, this one game will change all of that into a nightmarish experience, the likes of which are both a unique experience and the roughest thing found since a belt sander landed on my foot.

But it's time to talk about the PS1 game, the one whose rules are so rebellious, the game has an OPTION menu. Just the one. Literally, the option menu consists of a single option- STEREO sound or MONO sound. That's it. As for the game itself, there's a lot of weird differences in the rules that don't exist in the real game. Skip the next paragraph if you're not familiar with how the game works.

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You can't even really tell anything's wrong here, except for the lack of trap cards and my abysmal monster cards. If only I had the anime's Berserker Soul...

This game seems to follow some kind of early ruleset that's not like Konami's, nor the forgotten Bandai's versions. In the real ruleset, you can have between 40 and 60 cards, while in this, you can have exactly 40. You must be able to have 5 cards in your hand when drawing cards. You must use at least a single card during your turn. You can summon any monster without tributing cards, so a Blue-Eyes White Dragon can be placed at any time, which would allow you to summon a bunch in one turn, but that's against the rules. That's because you can only play a single card in one turn. The only exception is that you can fuse multiple cards in one turn together without Polymerization, as well as fuse basically any cards you have, because of course you can. So if you want to use two monsters in one turn, you can, you just have to fuse them, which either gets rid of the first card you put up or it makes a monster based on rules you're never fully explained on. It depends on the types of monsters you have, half of which are explained and the other half ignored. You can also fuse monster cards with spell and trap cards somehow, and I have no idea how any of this works any more. There's also a type system based off planets in our solar system? Oh, and you can place cards in face-down attack pose for some reason. Basically, short version is, it's really different to the actual game, but it's still a game of "who has the more stupidly powerful card", just with less game breaking combinations.

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The big saving grace about the game's weird planet-based system is that it makes Kuriboh a tolerable card. Sometimes. Rarely. Okay, only once.

Now for those that don't know how Yu-Gi-Oh works, it's really easy. You have 8000 life points and you place up to 5 monsters down on the field at any time. You can then tell your monsters to attack your opponents monsters, and if the damage you deal is higher than the enemy's monster, their monster is destroyed and the difference is subtracted from your opponents' life points. Monsters can be in attack and defence position. Monsters in attack position can attack, while monsters in defence positions won't make the player lose life points upon defeat. Each one has a different stat depending on which position they're in, so a monster might be great for attack, or great for defence, or both. I'm going to show the power of my cards by naming them MONSTER NAME (ATK/DEF), so you don't have to Google what cards I'm using all the time. There's also spell cards which do certain effects, such as allow you to draw 2 more cards from your deck (I can't remember which card does that, though, email me if you know), or destroy all the cards on the field, but for some reason, they're very rare in the PS1 game.

Let's put it this way. This game is one of the hardest I've ever played. I started off with a deck that was reasonably fusionable, with Masked Clown (500/700), Mega Thunderball (750/600), Swordsman From A Foreign Land (250/250), and Skull Servant (300/200). These are terrible cards, but they fuse fairly well together. And the game is very easy in the first battles against Tea Teana, a random villager, and Joey Jono. They just placed a monster face-down in defense position and it's always something that's one of the weakest monsters in game. No spell cards, no fusions, it's extremely simple. When you beat them, you get a rank for how well you did, going from D (for deplorable) to S (for Japan needs to just start dumping a bunch of pluses after the A), and as a reward, you get starchips based on your rank, which you can, and should, trade for cards, as well as a single trading card. What. I'm going to explain how much I don't like the starchip system later, even though it's great in theory, but the single trading card? Really? This game has over 700 cards, they couldn't have given you a booster pack like how Pokemon: TCG did?

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That's pretty fucking rude, Seto.

The plotline went something like this. You are Dan Green, the boy next in line to be pharaoh, and you sneak out of the castle to play card games with the commoners. You meet Teana in the Duel Ground, who then proceeds to duel you for fun. You proceed to kick her ass. After you defeat her in a children's card game, a shady villager comes up and wants to duel you. You proceed to kick his ass. You and Teana head on off to the Town Square to see some kind of event and meet Jono, who gets his ass kicked by a priest named Seto. You challenge Seto to a duel, but he has to postpone, saying that he'll see you in the Duel Ground. You head back there with Jono and proceed to kick his ass, understanding why he lost to Seto.

And then Seto Kaiba shows up and mercilessly kicks your ass. Again, and again, and again; I spent more time facing him than I did the rest of the enemies combined. I tried to beat him like I beat the rest, but no matter what, he set down a monster more powerful than anything I had within three turns. Sometimes he fused cards into something like Ushi Oni (2150/1950) or Mystical Sand (2100/1700). Once, he just set down a Gaia The Fierce Knight (2300/2100), essentially ensuring his success. For comparison, the deck bestowed upon me by Dan Green had monsters that were mostly under 1000/1000 for both stats, and if I was lucky, I could summon monsters like Pumpking the King of Ghosts (1800/2000), but that's not enough anymore. I'm barely half an hour into this game and I've already met my match.

That's not even the worst of it. While girls all over the Internet may dream of seeing this stud be naked and covered in Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards, unless that's just Kaiba's deepest desires hidden in his dreams. Oh, and then they all get on fire, but he gets saved at the last second by another dragon that rains down another torrent of Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards that Joey Wheeler can't ever have. I forgot the point I was making, but in that one match, I've yet to see him play a single one. He is a disgrace to the Kaiba name and I'm recanting his right to use the dragon-shaped jet he owns for... personal reasons. Listen to me, the fuck kind of dragon card is a horseman on a horse? It would make a lot more sense to have him be on a dragon, or better yet, three of them. But I digress.

Even with him not abusing the power of dragons, I couldn't do anything with my current strategies. Opening up guides, abusing fusions, and sending my monsters on suicide missions to chip away at Seto's LP from the flawed AI resulted in me losing as well, although not quite as badly. To clarify, the rules say that you must play a card per turn, so he basically always played a weak monster, but typically in attack position. This allows me to chip away at his LP, but it's not enough since his one monster he sets down at the start of the match is far stronger than anything I could get.

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Get used to seeing this image. A lot.

See, this wouldn't be a problem for me if it weren't for two small "insignificant" facts- the game does not autosave and the game ends when you lose. Even if it's just a friendly match between friends, you, as the pharaoh, are so disappointed in your Yu-Gi-Oh skills, that you commit seppuku upon defeat. As you are Dan Green, the King of Games, you must never lose a single game, even if your deck is really stacked to the side of the spectrum where cards like Mushroom Man lie (which happens to be in my deck), with crap monsters and a grand total of 2 spell cards in your inventory. You do start off with three cards, though, but my third spell card, an equip card, could not be used with any of the monsters I own, because of course it can't. Thanks, RNG. Essentially, when you lose, you're sent back to the title screen and have to do this all over again if you didn't save.

Out of the literal thousand games I've played, this is by far the most bullshit difficulty spike I've ever seen. I'm not going to pretend like I'm the King of Games, I couldn't beat the ending of Henry Hatsworth, I couldn't beat Super Meat Boy (but I got to the last part of chapter 6), I could only 100% Binding of Isaac's Flash version, but nothing prepares you for Seto Kaiba.

While writing this review, I decided to take a look at the community for the game. It's a pretty nice one, but looking into the speedrunners' strats, I also found out that what I did was the wrong thing to do. Ideally, I should have just not snuck out in the first place. You'd think that's the wrong thing to do, but I'm not joking. You stay in the palace, it gets raided by a very evil wizard, you break the puzzle, and it ends up in Yugi's hands after 5000 years. (And oddly enough, I did not see Dartz at all during the intro sequence). It goes back to kicking your ass mercilessly, though, so I'm gonna hold off on torturing myself any more.

Back to the game, thankfully, this game, like many other Yu-Gi-Oh games, allows you to use the codes on the bottom left of your cards to unlock the cards ingame. How this works is that when you win a duel, you get between 1 and 5 star chips depending on how well you did (as well as what's usually a trash card). Do the star chips help? Hahahahahaha, no. Well, kind of. There are some good cards available for cheap, but out of the 722 cards in the game, 24 cannot be redeemed and another 98 of them require 999999 starchips, making them essentially impossible to be redeemed. For comparison, most cards require under 300 starchips, most of which are really nice cards, a handful require more than that, and a grand total of 8 require over 1000 (but not 999999), which includes the meta for a good reason Twin-headed Thunder Dragon (2800/2100), a fairly common fusion if you manage to get the prerequisites. But drawing it by itself is just as nice. If you look into those insurmountable 98, it has all the famous cards like Blue Eyes White Dragon (3000/2500), Dark Magician (2500/2100), Swords of Revealing Light (SPELL CARD), and all of the 5 Exodia cards. Apparently, you can get 3 of them from random drops, but that's still 2 cards you have to grind impossible amounts of time for.

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Even she wants nothing to do with this game.

Oh, and for good measure, it doesn't have the staple Dark Magician Girl (2000/1700) card, which was already introduced by this time in both the card game and other Yu-Gi-Oh video games.

So why am I so upset at this starchip system? Well, let's say that you get 5 chips per match. You need just under a million to get any of the really good cards. This means you have to win 200000 perfect games, or a lot more if you don't do it perfectly enough. If each match takes 5 minutes, that would be about 694 days of straight perfect play for a single card. First off, you'd break your disc, second off, nobody would spend that much ingame time on Yu-Gi-Oh with weird rules.

Now, there's a perfectly good reason as to why these cards cost so much; it's laziness in localization. To be more specific, the game was originally meant to use the PocketStation, a Japanese-exclusive peripheral for the PS1 similar to the VMU for the Dreamcast. In it, you could get cards via passcodes exclusive to it and by fusing other cards together, which was accessible via the OPTION menu (but replaced with that huge empty space in all other versions). Of course, since it was released only in Japan, the menu option for the PocketStation was removed. However, the starchip costs for those exclusive cards was never fixed, so if you want to get these cards now, your best hope is cheating or just pretending that it's okay for THE FIRST AI TO HAVE ONE OF THE IMPOSSIBLE TO OBTAIN CARDS.

Since I'm still upset about the game, I might as well end this off with a short blurb about the graphics. They're very solid. The game mostly has drawn characters over backgrounds, and sometimes it has little speech bubbles when it's not exactly clear who's talking. Dueling has cards in fairly good resolution for the PS1, the cards are scanned from the real things (albeit with a different font and the Japanese style of card instead of American), and there's nothing to complain about here, except for the choice of font for the top of the card.

There's also a soundtrack, thankfully, which was very fitting for the game, but it was uninteresting for me, personally. While I wouldn't turn it off, I also wouldn't listen to it by itself. If you're fighting any of the hard as shit AI, though, and don't know the fusions by hand, you're gonna hear it a lot while you look up guides. Trust me, I still hear Kaiba's theme in my head.

To keep with the theme of me trying to half-ass an ending for this review, there's also a two-player system, but you need to have the cards written down separately (lest your opponent cheats), and a trading system. I don't have friends that play Yu-Gi-Oh, anyway. Or any TCG, for that matter. I'm the weirdo here.

POINT IS YOU CAN'T SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS WITH CHILDREN'S CARD GAMES.

FINAL REVIEW SCORE: MUSHROOM MAN.


Honestly though, if you like the game, that's pretty cool. While I was caustic about the game for the large duration of this review, it's just not that good of a game due to the unbalanced AI and starchip system making it impossible for a player as casual as I am to progress. I do think the one card per turn rule would make for a more interesting Yu-Gi-Oh, if you also completely ignore all the changes made after the original series like Synchro Summons and whatever the hell XYZ is meant to be. Or maybe I should learn how that works before I publicly complain about it. The only part I'm a huge fan of, in terms of additions made after the original saga, is dangerously playing card games on motorcycles. That will never get old.