Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM review

Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM is an official Facebook adaptation of the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, anime and collectible card game franchise from Konami. The game is based loosely on the fictional “Duel Monsters” game seen in the TV series and movies, and which also forms the basis for the physical collectible card game products.

Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM’s main gameplay revolves around duelling with cards against either computer- or player-controlled opponents. The objective in a duel is for one player to reduce their opponent’s life points total to zero by attacking them using monsters, spells and various other cards. In some respects, it is similar to popular collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, but the rules are much simpler to grasp, particularly for newcomers to the genre or younger players. Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM also features a good tutorial system that introduces various game concepts a little bit at a time before allowing the player the opportunity to practice in “real” battles.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM playfield is split into three “channels.” Each turn, both players draw three cards from their deck and are able to play as many as they are able. One monster and one spell may go in each channel. Once all the cards have been played, the “battle” phase begins. First, any spell cards which affect monster strength or deal direct damage to the other player are applied. Then, the (potentially modified) strength of monster cards in each channel are compared. If one monster’s strength is greater than its opponent’s, the weaker monster is destroyed and any leftover power from the victorious monster is converted into damage to the opponent’s life pool. If both monsters have equal strength, both are destroyed and no damage is done to either player. The battle continues until one player has defeated the other.

The single-player component of Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM sees players working through a mostly-linear campaign map consisting of duels, boss battles and treasure chests. Each of these costs energy to activate, with the exception of tutorial missions, which are completely “free” to play. Most cells on the map reward the player with soft currency coins and/or new cards to add to their deck, and completing a “chapter” of the campaign rewards the player with the game’s hard currency of Duel Points. These can be used to purchase additional energy, powerups that allow the player to “cheat” in duels and powerful cards.

The game has several currencies, all of which may be purchased using Facebook Credits. Besides the aforementioned soft and hard currencies, there is also a “social” currency known as Card Pieces. These are earned by duelling against friends — the ability to do this is unlocked after making sufficient progress in the campaign mode — or by exchanging gifts. Items in the shop may generally only be purchased using one of these types of currency — there is no means of, say, exchanging Duel Points for coins. This encourages the player to try out all the different things they can do in the game, as in order to earn the currencies they need to purchase additional content, they will need to make progress in the campaign as well as battle against their friends.

Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM is a good implementation of the increasingly-popular card battle genre. There is a light degree of strategy in gameplay, though a lot of it is down to luck, since the player has no way of knowing what cards their opponent is going to play. It certainly feels a lot more “interactive” than some rival card battle titles, however, particularly those that have been seen on mobile devices recently.

The presentation of the game is generally very good, with smooth animation and good quality card art — though it’s disappointing that there is no full screen mode. Sound doesn’t fare so well, however — the backing music is made up of some dreadful ’90s-style dance beats and clashes horribly with the fanfares that play upon completing a duel successfully. Thankfully, it is possible for the player to switch off either the music, sound effects or both if they so desire.

Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM is likely to enjoy a good degree of success on Facebook going forward. It is a well-established brand in popular entertainment — particularly for children and teenagers — and the game itself is solid and well-designed without feeling unfairly biased in favor of paying players. So far it has picked up 1,100,000 monthly active users and 280,000 daily active users, and the future looks bright.

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A good adaptation of a strong, well-known franchise, likely to enjoy a healthy run of success on Facebook.