Part 1: Sacred Cards Part 1/4Sacred Cards Part 1/4
Here we go. I'd like to point out two things right off the bat: This game has a language select option even in the USA release, and Imgur has removed the ability to sort images by filename. Ugh...this is already going to be painful.
Ye olde name entry screen has Kuriboh hovering over the OK button, which is cute. I figured I should go with a name starting with "Yu" since every Yu-Gi-Oh protagonist has a name starting with "Yu". And we are the protagonist in this game. Forget that Yugi person.
We begin in our room where we get a visit from said not-protagonist and certainly-not-a-protagonist.
Wait, Battle City?
SWEET! I thought for some strange reason they were making a game about a card game tournament, but a tank battle tournament?! I'm down for that any day!
Deck? You don't need cards in a tank battle tournament! What are you gonna do, slice the cannon off with a paper cut?
The plot really is about a card game tournament.
Well, let's not go into it with a negative attitude! What else could you do with a game/show about card games, anyhow? This game follows the plot of the Battle City arc, and that's fine, even though I don't like that particular arc of the show all that much.
Blink animation timing strikes again!
Anyhow we probably should check out the deck the game saddled us with.
Naturally, it's total junk. But we can fix that.
Sacred Cards has very different mechanics from the TCG. Chief among them is Deck Capacity. The 900 cards in this game each have a Cost, and the total Cost of the 40 cards in your deck can't exceed the player's Deck Capacity, which increases with every duel you win.
I kinda like the idea, though not a lot of people did. It forces you to, at first, come up with a good combat plan without being able to use the best cards right away. Personally I think the concept was put to best use in Duelist of the Roses, which features Fusion Summoning. Sacred Cards, despite every other game at the time having Fusion Summoning, does not. Very odd.
This is the stats menu. One mechanic I'm not at all fond of is the Duelist Level. It, too, goes up whenenver you win a duel. If a card's Cost exceeds your Duelist Level, you can't use that card AT ALL until you level up. Unlike with Deck Capacity, where you might have to take a bad card in addition to a good card to balance it out, Duelist Level outright stops you from making a choice like that at all. Not a good idea. It won't bother me too much, though. On with the plot!
We head outside into the town square. This place is called "Domino City" for some reason. I'm pretty sure it's not a real town in Japan.
Tournament organizer and resident rich corporate executive Seto Kaiba lays down the tournament's rules: Contestants roam the city, and if two of them bump into each other, THAT is when a duel occurs. Pretend it's The Hunger Games, only the odds actually ARE in your favor this time. And you don't die if you lose. Maybe.
No borrowing Yugi's deck for a duel allowed! I guess? What a weird rule to have.
Obligatory "Gambling is good for you, children!" joke. Well, the card game WAS originally a Magic: The Gathering homage, so I suppose it's only natural.
Not only are we wagering trading cards, we're wagering specially-made Locater Cards. These are pieces of a map of the city, like a puzzle!...somehow? A-anyway, get six of these and you'll know the location of the tournament finals.
Yugi, Joey and the player all agree to enter the finals together, which probably kills the spirit of the competition, but who cares! We gain control after this scene. You can challenge any NPC to a duel by talking to them with R instead of A.
Bizzarely, however, the game expects you to attempt to challenge every future opponent in the town square at the moment before the plot moves on. None of them accept duels until you do that.
Then you walk south on this screen. I don't get it either. Anyways, let's find someone to duel. Though you can challenge any NPC, only a select few of them have Locater cards you can win from them.
There are three duelists in this alley, and we need to beat one of them to move forward. Let's do it!
Before a duel, you can wager one of your other cards. You don't actually have to wager anything, but there are some great cards you can win from opponents, so I always do it. Also, some of the weakest cards in the game are treated as "Low-level" ante cards. If you wager a low-level card, you can only expect a low-level prize for winning. Don't worry, though, most of the cards you start with are not low-level.
Here's what the playfield looks like. Since the mechanics of this are different from the TCG, I'll explain them from the ground up.
You start the game with 5 cards in hand and draw one at the start of your turn if you don't have 5 cards in hand already. You may play one Monster card per turn, and you can play as many Spell/Trap cards as you want during your turn.
Monster cards are played in the front row of your field. Note the monster's level: If it's 4 or lower, you can play it for free. If it's 5 or 6, you must sacrifice one monster you already have out to play it. If it's 7 or 8, two monsters are required, and 9 or above requires THREE monsters.
Monsters enter the field face-down, as indicated by the green "R". During your turn, monsters you control can either attack your opponent, switch to defense position, or activate a special ability if they have one. However you can only use special abilities while the monster is face-down...for some reason. Let's attack the opponent's monster. If he had no monsters, I could make a direct attack on his Life Points. Naturally the first to reach zero Life Points loses.
When two monsters battle, the attacker's Attack Points are compared to the target's Attack or Defense points, depending on what battle position they were in.
If the target was in attack position, the weaker monster is destroyed and its controller takes damage to their Life Points equal to the difference in power. (Both monsters are destroyed if it's a tie.) If the target was in defense position, the attacker isn't destroyed if they lose, but the target's controller won't lose LP if their mosnter is destroyed. (In this case, if it's a tie, nothing happens.)
However, monsters also have one of eleven Attributes. These have a rock-paper-scissors mechanic to them. If you attack an enemy with a monster whose attribute beats that monster's attribute, they die instantly. No stat calculations or anything. This will not cause anything hilarious in the future.
Here I've drawn a Spell card. Their effects can be activated during your turn. There are also Trap cards, which can be placed on the field and activate under certain conditions during your opponent's turn.
I should mention that any action during your turn can be carried out in any order. There are no "Phases" like in the TCG. This makes the game much more fast-paced, but you can abuse this in a few ways, too.
For example, that Spell Card there is called Dark Hole, and it destroys all monsters on the field, on both sides. However you can Sacrifice a monster, then activate Dark Hole, then play a Level 5 or 6 monster from your hand and get a free hit on your opponent's LP. Very curious.
Anyhow, that opponent wasn't hard to beat, and neither are a majority of the opponents in the early part of the game, so don't expect much play-by-play. Winning duels lets you take their domino collection.
Okay, okay, "Domino" is actually currency. What kind of currency "Domino" is, I don't know.
Beating one of the duelists in the alleyway makes this guy appear in the conveniently located cemetary in the back.
This guy is named "Bonz" in the anime. Western anime dubbers love their terrible pun names, it drives me crazy.
Bonz uses Zombie monsters, which aren't much to speak of. I was able to demonstrate another mechanic this game has though, and it's a really terrible idea.
That blue card there is a Ritual card. If you sacrifice two monsters, then activate the card, it will transform one particular monster into a stronger monster. This one turns Mask of Darkness into "Mask of Shine and Dark".
Well, 2000 is a lot of attack points for this early in the game, but I was already winning by the time I had summoned this mosnter anyways. It's worth noting that all Ritual monsters carry the Divine attribute, which isn't weak or strong against any other attribute. To take down a Ritual monster, you've got to do it the old-fashioned way.
Still, though, you're sacrificing three cards for one with Rituals, and it's almost NEVER worth it. They're not as good here as they are in the early days of the TCG, and in the early days of the TCG, they were barely any good at all.
Anyhow, we beat Bonz and earn a good chunk of Deck Capacity in the process, and his rarest card!
Aaaaand I can't use it yet. Great. Well, the picture alone makes it worth getting!
One down, four more to go! Let's check out the other alleyway.
We find another duelist who goes down just as quickly.
The tried-and-true solution to all your gaming problems: get big brother to do it for you.
The same line. Oh well, let's see what card I win from him
...Woah. I wasn't kidding when I said Sacred Cards doesn't alter most of the original card artwork. Here's some other examples:
Mystic Tomato was changed to not look like a Jack-o-lantern in the English TCG,
Monster Reborn had this ankh redesigned into a giant crystal (though I've seen versions of Sacred Cards where it DOES use the English artwork?) and as for Dian Keto the Cure Master...
...OH GOD. Why wasn't THAT censored?!
A-anyways! Beating big brother causes him to call in HIS big brother!
This is Espa Roba, and he wants a Locater card. He doesn't feature in the anime all that much. I don't know what's up with the "Pipipi" thing he does, it probably has something to do with his alleged ESP. In the show, his "ESP" is just his brothers peeking at his opponent's cards.
He doesn't really need that, though. Espa has a Spell card called The Inexperienced Spy. It reveals all cards in the opponent's hand, which is more powerful than it looks. Remember, effect monsters can only use their effects while face-down. If they're revealed like this while in your hand, they'll enter the field face-up.
Still, he's not that hard and we get a VERY good card from him. Jinzo is famous for his ability to destroy trap cards, and a healthy attack stat for a monster that costs only one sacrifice makes him very nice...but that high Cost makes it so we can't use him this early in. Argh.
I'll take Locater card number two, though!
If you re-enter the alleyway you can listen to Espa's sob story. If you're a dick to him he won't re-match you ever again, if you care.
I once asked how you could possibly shut somebody up with a playing card. Then I remembered I won a Titty Kitty from one of them and came to my own conclusion.
...Let's move on.
We see that Bonz has suddenly been kicked out of his hangout by someone even more goth than he is.
Oh goody it's this guy. This character was nothing but a random "bad guy's minion" in the show and he isn't much more than that here.
He uses the five "Exodia" cards in his deck. The gimmick here is that if he draws all five of them in his hand at once, he wins instantly. In this game, it's near impossible for him to actually do that, especially since in this case he put one on the field, where it can't instantly win for him.
But in the TCG? Oh god. Many, MANY players really hate Exodia players because they do nothing but stall until they get all five cards in their hand, making the game boring for whoever happens to be Exodia's next victim.
So we kick this boring loser out of the cemetary.
Uh...thanks? I'm gonna go get my next Locater card.
I seem to have found the local anime ninja hangout! I can see Yuffie, Naruto, and...
...Rex Raptor? Okay then. Rex doesn't want to duel you unless you have two other Locater cards already. In the show, Rex was the original user of the Red-Eyes Black Dragon, a powerful card that he wagered in a duel against Joey Wheeler and lost.
His duel introduces an annoying gimmick. There are a set of Spell cards that alter the terrain of the field to benefit certain monster types. In some duels, the terrain starts already altered. This Wasteland board raises the stats of Rock, Dinosaur and Zombie monsters by 30% (in the TCG it's just a flat 200 extra points). And with a name like Rex Raptor, I wonder what type of monster he uses!
Unfortunately Rex doesn't put up much of a fight, either. A lot of these early duels are just me running over the enemy with my stronger monsters - not a lot of need for Spells and Traps quite yet. Rex, oddly enough, has Red-Eyes Black Dragon despite him canonically losing it to Joey earlier in the plot. Found another copy, I guess?
Optionally, if you go east of that screen you can find Kaiba Corporation and their new Duel Computer, which you can duel. You earn a LOT of money from this opponent, so it's a duel worth repeating, and the computer is supposed to scale to your own Duelist Level. At least, I think it does.
Anyhow! Beating this ONE NPC out of everyone in the entire city triggers an event flag! How you're supposed to know it's this one is beyond me, but he tells us something's going down at the card shop. What a coincidence! I was just about to go get some new cards. We'll see what this is all about next time!