Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Duel Adventure

OK, confession time. Because I could never afford a Game Boy, I never played the Pokemon games. However, because I was such a big Pokefan (the official name for anyone who watched even the later, less interesting seasons) that I forked out good money for the Pokemon game cards. I was fifteen years old, and no, I didn't so much as see a girl's breast for another seven years.

If you remember, these cards became so popular that they resulted in violence on the playground, as schoolkids were determined to find the rarest, most powerful cards. It was, quite frankly, ridiculous, but the game itself was actually a lot of fun, and paved the way for the multitude of other Anime card games that flooded the market in the years that followed.

Now someone has had the bright idea to take this concept and adapt it for the Internet. Duel Adventure certainly has all of the elements in place - except, of course, for a sense of fun.

The idea is that you are given a hand of five cards, and you must use them in the best way possible to defeat your opponent. The cards themselves look pretty impressive. I mean, check out this blue dragon! Yeah, I know it looks red, but I think you'll find the title clearly says "Blue Dragon."

You like zombies, right? Well, check out this shit! And who doesn't want, um, Armageddon? There's an option to print the cards out, so you can play in real life, with a real friend and everything. My advice is to do that, because playing the online game can be tedious, frustrating and downright pointless.

This is the actual game screen, and unless the idea was a clichéd cod-Medieval get-up straight outta Photoshop, it's not very impressive. Sure, there's the duel, but where's the adventure? Off in a better game, apparently.

It's not that Duel Adventure is unplayable. There are plenty of different card types, from monsters to spells to health potions. It's up to the player to properly balance their supply of mana while also causing damage to their opponent.

One of the big problems is the complete lack of control the player has over what cards they're holding. You don't get to choose the cards or even the type of deck you play with. The result is that this is less card game and more crap shoot, since you're at the mercy of whatever random image generator is dealing out your hand.

Because of the randomness of the hands, you'll lose far more often than you'll win. It really is all about the luck of the draw. While that's fairly appropriate, given the style of game, it gets increasingly frustrating.

When you do win (and hey, the law of averages says you will, at least once) you'll be rewarded with a new card. I learned quite quickly that of all these cards, the monsters are the most useful. You know how, in an RPG, it's always easier to club someone to death with a melée weapon than it is to try shooting them? Well, in Duel Adventure the monster card is your melée weapon.

Forget about Mana, forget about poison spells - in fact, forget about anything except the blunt force trauma of a giant squid in the face. It won't guarantee you any more wins than using your hand strategically, but it's a lot of fun. And in Duel Adventure, a game sorely lacking in excitement, at least you'll get something out of it.

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