Spar-Spangled Banter: Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards – Closing Point

Hello. Gaspar here.

I have dealt with most of the many kinds of monsters in the game, as well as how I consider Yu-Gi-Oh a game that does not make itself easier to play and understand.

This is the last article of this series, and it’s about my issues with the card game itself.

Let’s make this clear right now: this article is quite a bit more opinionated than my previous ones. Do not read any further from this point if anything anyone says is an affront to your beliefs.


Cards may as well be blank

Nothing on any card matters other than the effect. ATK only matters at specific values, and if you do not have a lot of DEF you might as well not have any so that you work with low-DEF support because the Defense Position itself is a death sentence the vast majority of the time. Levels are not power levels and they do not denote a card being easier or harder to summon. Types and Attributes have no use on their own and are only malleable placeholders for whatever support you want a card to work with or not. This leads to lots and lots of cards that are completely mechanical and too similar to each other for no reason other than being the usual generic good effects.

Both sharkmen and pretty boys are sea dragons. You heard it here, folks.

It’s funny how Neptabyss’ existence is a middle finger to the little lore Atlanteans and Mermails have.


Lack of tone

The game does not have a tone of any sort. It does not feel the player does anything other than slam cards on the table. It has no idea of who it is appealing to. It constantly references the fact it is a card game by showing cards and people holding Duel Disks, as well as the fact the Duel Terminals are actually machines in which the various DT conflicts constantly ran as a program. There is no division from the game’s “reality” and ours. It does not feel right.

Lots of things are referenced, but the references themselves ring hollow because the cards only share a superficial resemblance to what is being referenced most of the time. Kaijus claim to be based on, well, kaiju, but they are pointless when you do not have 2 of them in your hand, and they have no effects unless a card that is meant to be a city they destroy and rampage on and a card that is claimed to work against them stack up Kaiju Counters for their effects. They are meant to be used as an archetype even though the whole point of them is to have them fight with each other… in the form of staged boss battles. That you can force with a single card, which will get you another Kaiju. Because.

The quality of artworks has greatly dwindled, to the point they sometimes resort to copy-pasting them with minor changes – if they take the effort to do that instead of simply taking one element of an artwork and obscure everything else or picking monsters from ten different cards and putting them all in a single artwork with no changes of any sort. Consistency in a single group of cards is constantly ignored for kicks. Not only that, but it is also not Yu-Gi-Oh’s artstyle anymore – we now have nothing besides generic anime things even though the whole point of Yu-Gi-Oh’s card artstyle was to be more western-ish. And the things in anime style are not even drawn well: they lack in detail and background and basic anatomy, being nothing but a pretentious explosion of colors that tries to fool people into thinking there is more going on than it actually is whenever it is not just an overly complicated mess for the sake of it. They are not appealing to anyone besides the lowest common denominator: stuff that reeks of a lazy fanfic being slapped onto the game’s only established plotlines, nonsensical wacky hijinks involving whatever they want no matter how unfitting it is, degradation of running gags that probably did not need to exist in the first place like a solemn god becoming a cartoonishly angry caricature of itself, kawaii desu lolis shoved anywhere for the sake of it, panty shots, edible clothes and people, furry wizard stand-in OC don’t steal

Thanks, Japan.

After all the game has gone through, Konami is now resorting to neckbeard pandering because they think there is no other way to keep people playing Yu-Gi-Oh as they refused to keep an eye on it for years and they do not want to fix it now. Not that they actually can, of course, now that Pendulums exist and they are not simply going to wipe out the mechanic they are shoving down your throat. There is the little issue that any card game managed by Bushiroad as well as Force of Will greatly outdo Yu-Gi-Oh when it comes to anime pandering and they have had it as a selling point for a good while now, and the only thing YGO has over them in that regard is… people who get entangled with that after being disappointed with the other things. And there’s also the distrust this sudden, massive change generates: if they ditched their standards in order to appeal to a fleeting and outright bipolar demographic… what makes anyone think they are not going to do the same thing to them? Their current actions are not helping them look good at all.

The names are awful, and not in the “it’s so bad it loops around and it becomes good” way. They are just bad. They have had a couple of issues since the beginning, mind you, what with the reverse localization for cards that were in English in the OCG but got a japanese name in the TCG and the infrequent slip between the L and R and the occasional card that went through both. But nowadays we get shoe-horned puns into everything that may or may not be translatable (because who cares about anyone other than the OCG?) and things like Dr. Frankenderp and That Wacky Magic! Who came up with these, went “yeah, this is a good name” and slapped them to any card? And then there’s the translation fuckups that seem pulled straight from Google Translate… Sacred Noble Knight of King Artorigus is a word salad that is flat-out wrong – the Sacred Noble Knight is King Artorigus.

Is there even a difference between the two forms?

If you ever wondered why a set of cards is called “Hunder” instead of “Thunder”, wonder no more. It’s because Konami believes the playerbase is nothing but immature drooling idiots, so the company does not respect the customers and believe they can do whatever they want. I am not making that up. But you see, Kevin Tewart and Konami in general, using children and manchildren as an excuse to make a horrible job at translating / localizing / whatever-the-hell-you-guys-do does NOT work when you make Traptrix Rafflesia.

So yeah, no. Make up your mind, Konami. Be a blend of every single cliche and stereotype of current anime trends or be an example of a long-running franchise degraded over time in a desperate attempt to lure in unaware children like an undead series. Pick one thing and stick with it and deal with the consequences instead of claiming you are appealing to every end when the only thing you are doing is trying to be as much of a prick to all of them as possible. We are way past the point where we could have expected them to turn back, what with milking nostalgia in the most crude ways instead of actually improving in any regard.

To whom is Konami even making the game for nowadays? People parroting the children’s card game thing ad infinitum convinced Konami to adopt it as the game’s general tone, and the playerbase’s ambivalent attitude towards ZeXal did not help matters. There are plenty of cards named after rather obscure things, but they have nothing to do with anything besides the name only. There are also plenty of cards that show people with Duel Disks as well as actual Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and the aforementioned localizations and misguided humor such as calling a bard a rock star in an archetype where no other card does that. Add that to the game’s unnecessary amount of rules lawyering and all the summoning mechanics eventually becoming pretty much the same thing as each other… seriously, what is the target?


Lack of effect variety

There is no effect variety: everything Special Summons, searches cards or recovers them, removes things from the field and negates activations/effects, and many cards do several of those. Most of the perceived variety lies in their triggers, and those are the basis of the majority of archetypes. Konami actually demonizes effect variety because “it would be a rules nightmare” or “it would destroy the game“. even though their nonsensical rulings as well as Xyz and Pendulums are infinitely worse and most of the effects that would supposedly not be good are the way they are due to how they bottlenecked card design so that all monsters are expendable fodder and removal is always available. Anything that needs monsters – or even cards in general – to stay on the field for a period of time is almost unusable by default no matter how bad or good it actually is.

I am not joking. Nothing is safe from it. Not even fan-favorite anime cards. Especially not those.

Someone else has commented on how Konami’s version of The Seal of Orichalcos does not do it justice at all and is a cheap move by Konami. Let me say this now: I am not a particularly big fan of any of the Yu-Gi-Oh anime series. ZeXal is the one I am the closest to, and… well, you probably know the deal with that by now. But I am also annoyed at how The Seal of Orichalcos was handled. Not because I am a fan of the card, but because a lot of other people are. What Konami did was a mean-spirited nostalgia cashgrab, and it was not only that – it was a mean-spirited nostalgia cashgrab with them mocking the source material and using the mockery to “justify” dropping the unique quirks the card had.

The Seal of Orichalcos puts monsters on the Spell/Trap Card Zone so that they can’t be attacked? But no one would understand how that works! THERE WOULD BE FISTFIGHTS! We could explain how the whole thing goes, of course, but that would need effort on our part. That won’t do, so have some bizarre strawman instead. And the ATK boost is too big and too generic to simply let it be, even though that is literally the only effect the card actually keeps because we murderkilled every other effect it had and restricted it AND we outright admit anything that would use another Field Spell would just keep on using what they already have, but hey, nostalgia!. We allowing you to spam an absurd amount of monsters with no way to stop them from being an instant OTK is not our fault. Our Field Spell design is always flawless. And we have never made tremendous walls of text that need you to use a microscope to read their effects that do not have three drawbacks each, it’s just your crappy animu fiction and its nonsensical nonstandard thingies. You are asking why you cannot Fusion Summon under The Seal, eh? That’s simple to answer: Gremiro is a bad person and a jerk.

If nothing else, read this link. They lay all the blame on Senet (cards that move themselves around the field for underwhelming effects) for the massive derail The Seal of Orichalcos got, and snowballed it into something absurd on purpose. Even though the only way something like Senet could have been made in the first place is by Konami not ever seeing people play their own game. If you see people instinctively moving the cards around the field to their empty spaces because it does not matter, you do not make cards that move around with their own effects and gain effects according to the presence or absence of cards in those columns. Because it is just awkward for every party involved, and it is awkward for the sake of it. This is the kind of thing no game needs: something complicated for the sake of being complicated that adds nothing to a game other than headaches and general displeasure.

What happened with the whole “effects are above the game’s mechanics” idea that was used to make a lot of different things before? Why are so many existing mechanics unexplored, yet more and more of them are made anyway? And what is the point of Konami forcing more and more anime and manga series to be made as a way to promote their sets and other products if they are going to attack the series for being works of fiction and use that as an argument to change their effects into whatever they want, which are always the same four effects at the end of the day?


Lack of flavor

Besides the game itself having no tone, it also has no flavor. Things happen because they happen. All these monsters do the same thing because they do. Xyz and Pendulums do what they do because they do, and the things that go against them do whatever they do because they do. This fisherman is more powerful and more protected than Konami’s awfully gimped versions of the Egyptian Gods because he is, without even needing Umi like its original version. And this stripped machine is even more powerful than the fisherman, because it is. It shows even with things as menial as Traps being usable at any time even though their very name implies they should only work against specific moves made by the opponent in order to “trap” them.

How are these sceneries fitting for Field Spells again?

I do not think flavor is mandatory for a card game to be good. Not incredibly deep, award-winning flavor, anyway. Even things as minuscule such as a 3000-ATK FIRE demon you summon to your opponent’s field that deals 1000 damage to its controller per turn work just fine. I do, however, think effects should not be whatever you want “because why not”. Moreso when you are referencing something else, and even moreso when said something does not belong to you. Doing whatever you want for the sake of doing whatever you want with your own things makes you look bad if you do it badly. Doing the same with things that do not belong to you is disrespectful to the things you are referencing and makes you look even worse. Or should, anyway. Turns out people are all too happy with the idea of lying to themselves for the sake of buying more cards. Or they are appealed to in the other ways.

These things that work perfectly with each other and have always been one Deck totally hate each other’s guts. Not that anyone cares – there’s horribly-drawn chicks with misplaced anime clichés all over the place. And what’s the deal with the Oz crossover?

Seriously though, how can you go “because why not” or “drawing your cards is SO 2007” as excuses to do whatever? Where is the respect to the players, to the game, and to yourself, when you resort to self-deprecation as your way out as if it were a valid justification for this? I am not asking you to be perfect. I am not asking you to be absolutely serious. I am only asking you to not be so uncaring of the things you are in charge of.


Deck and Card Design

I do not want to give anyone a lesson in business models or anything like that, but, it is better to let the players create the Decks than to regurgitate everything into a semi-liquid paste before selling it to them. Of course many of the cards are obviously going to be better if used together, and of course there are going to be many cards that meant to be usable only with other specific cards. There is little to complain about that when it only happens sparingly. But the archetype overuse when designing things that has been going on for years has made it borderline impossible to play a lot of cards in more than one way, and most of the things designed this way either have only one incredibly-specific use or are completely pointless even in the best possible situation.

You make your customers feel more satisfied by letting them come up with combinations, or at least making them feel as if they are doing so. And it makes them feel even more satisfied when they can actually work. You know, unlike throwing them “legacy support” that homogenizes every Deck or completely overwrites them into something else that is better than whatever those Decks were before.

There is another issue here: players are rewarded better for doing the easier thing. How comes it is so much easier to destroy a card or to search a card that destroys a card than it is to gain LP or force a monster to battle? Why are Xyz and Pendulums so overbearingly powerful when they are the safest mechanics to begin with? Why are you giving me a better reward for doing less, and why do you facilitate me doing the easier thing more than the others? Why are “hand traps” so much stronger, safer and easier to use than any other sort of ATK/DEF-altering effects, on top of being the ones more likely to be readily searchable? Why is a one-sided lockdown the only alternative to smashing my opponent’s face in? This makes no sense whatsoever.


Let’s sum this up…

Konami is terrible. Terrible in terms way beyond I can lay out in words. There is only so much stuff you can justify with “it’s a business and they don’t care about you besides how they can get your money” before they shove a knife in your chest and twist it as much as they can for the sake of sadism while mocking you for liking a certain level of quality in a card game.

I would like to believe Konami did this in response to the usual belief people have that everything in a card game should have the exact same options. I really would. I find the idea of deconstructions fascinating. But I would be deluding myself, and I hate self-delusion. Not to mention it would need them to actually pull back and start doing things right again, which they are obviously NOT going to do.

You. Yes, you. You with your super special awesome children’s card games memes that make it borderline impossible to have a conversation about anything related to the game. You, who side with Konami whenever anyone dares to point out anything even in the middle of your own complaints. The you who is reading this. Tell me, what is so fun about a game where everything is literally the same besides which crowd is being pandered in the artwork of the stuff you are using? How can you people play this game, complain about it and then go back to playing it whenever they pre-make another Deck as if nothing happened? Konami might be messing up royally since a bunch of years ago, and you might claim to criticize all that… but keeping yourself at their mercy makes your words completely hollow. Not to mention they are already exchanging your unfailing loyalty for legalized gambling machines.

It is the same kind of flashy, insipid, self-validating thrill you are already used to.
You probably won’t even notice the difference.

I am not saying this to try swaying or guilt-tripping you or anything. You are free to think and do whatever you want. In fact, I would rather prefer if you stayed on your side and tell me what is so good about this.

I am way too disappointed, disgusted and just plain sad about everything that has happened to this game. It is going in the exact opposite direction it was supposed to, and it is making fun of itself as if it were the correct course of action or it made any complaints about it meaningless. Like a low-quality webcomic whose only trait is pointing out the presence of overused tropes before it inevitably does the whole “Imma just make it porn and no one will be able to complain about that because I manifest myself with it!” thing. No, I am not saying the game back then was pefect, or even close to it – but it was its own thing, and it was better at being its own thing than it is at being a schizophrenic parody of its former self. Its deviations from its own patterns were an anomaly instead of the norm, which made them stand out more when actually they happened.

I have nothing else to say. I shall simply watch from here how you people love Neo Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon and how Arc-V manages to draw even more people to itself like a carnivorous plant does with its saliva by manhandling them with manufactured nostalgia despite its terrible pacing, null characterization, and completely unexplained occurrences that are quite literally the only thing that have happened in its ninety-something episodes. The vast majority of which are filler. And not even enjoyable filler. But it gets a pass because who would need or even want a half-decent story when it has copious amounts of waifu bullshit as well as children’s card games, right?… At least that ZeXal producer was sincere about his lust for little girls.

Oh well. See you guys later.


One thought on “Spar-Spangled Banter: Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards – Closing Point

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