The new update puts the Decade in Decade Duels.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Decade Duels Plus is the updated version of the previously release Decade Duels on XBLA and PSN. While the overall content is largely the same, there are hundreds of new cards and improved online functionality. You can still play through a single-player campaign that takes you through two tournaments and dueling original characters and characters from the 5D’s anime. The online multiplayer mode is where you can play tag, or single duels with people from around the world, and the newly updated downloadable content section where you can purchase new cards for real money. Most of the DLC cards are unlockable through the single-player campaign, but buying them allows you to strengthen your deck right off the bat to help in dueling the insane AI.
And that’s where this game’s issues come into play. The AI decks are ten times stronger than yours at the start, and they almost always get whatever cards necessary to beat you in a matter of turns. For the first several hours of Decade Duels Plus I felt like I was banging my head against a wall. The AI you start out playing against are adhered to what’s called the “Meta list.” Meaning that they all use the standardized cards that are considered to be the best. Cards like Mirror Force, Sakuretsu Armor, Heavy Storm, Lightning Vortext, and Solemn Judgement are considered top-tier because of their blanket applicability, they all allow you to negate and or destroy your opponents monsters, and for their attacks or effects. One of the main reasons they’re considered meta is because they have no type or contextual limitations, and they work with every type of deck. There’s really no reason everyone shouldn’t be using them. Every AI character is using them, and it feels like they gets these cards in what seems like every starting hand.
But Magic and Trap cards aren’t the only cards the AI gets. They also get whatever monsters will result in supporting each other to easily get a single turn victory. In Yu-Gi-Oh! there are “Archetypes” which are sets of cards that share a common theme or power, and all have extra abilities that let them work together in ways that normal cards can’t. This becomes bothersome quickly since the deck you start with is extremely weak. Giving you no cards over 2500 attack points, and barely any traps. Starting with a weak deck is all well and good in theory since it gives the player a feeling of starting as a weaker duelist, but then they expect you to go fight characters who are all using cards from the meta-list. Which results in taking control away from the player. No matter what strategy you set up, the AI will inevitably stop you from so much as activating a trap. Then they will use their cards to the fullest and fill their side of the field with multiple high attack point monsters on the second or third turn.
Once you build a better deck from unlocking or buying cards, these duels get to be less frustrating and more of a fun challenge. However, the speed at which you unlock cards through the single-player is extremely slow. Typically, you only get about 5 or so cards per victory. Most of which are completely useless without their support cards. This pace means you’ll have to win dozens of games before you can build a deck that’s capable of standing a chance against the AI. This process is made slower by the fact that Decade Duels Plus is an extremely slow game.
Every move you want to make takes three times longer than it should. So much as selecting a card to place in defense mode has a delay that has no reason to exist. Complaining about the speed at which each match plays out might sound like I’m nitpicking, but that’s only because it’s the biggest issue with the game. Even the AI design isn’t as egregious as the sluggish pace of Decade Duels Plus. It legitimately makes it less of an enjoyable experience. Making each match that the AI has the obvious upper-hand in all the more tedious and frustrating. This results in it being hard to want to play more than a few games per sessions.
If you do want to just play a couple rounds of Yu-Gi-Oh!, then this is one of the better ways to do so. Once you get a deck capable of combating the AI, the game becomes less stressful and is fun to just relax with for a few duels. There are also more than 2000 cards to unlock. So you’ll constantly be getting new cards and building stronger decks until you’re mopping the floor with the AI. The online mode is fun and well done, and to top it off Decade Duels Plus only costs $10. Which for a competent cardgame simulator could cost way more. So if you’re looking to play Yu-Gi-Oh!, but not looking to spend hundreds of dollars on cards to break into that meta scene, then this is a pretty good way to do that. Just expect some frustration for awhile.