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    jp's Duel Masters: Sempai Legends (GBA)

    [April 21, 2006 09:55:12 AM]

    Forgot to mention the final stats:
    Time played: 15hrs, 43 mins.
    Win: 117
    Lose: 12
    Cards: 142/180
    Reputation: 29-Master
    Pts.: 23885

    If you see anyone say the never lost a game. They're lying (and most likely turned off the GBA without saving whenever a battle was going badly for them).

    add a comment Add comment
    [April 21, 2006 09:51:15 AM]
    So, in a sudden and almost unexpected turn of events, I finished this game. After winning the trophy from the last city on the map and defeating my "nemesis", I was proclaimed champion. However, I still had one more trophy left to go and a lot of rare cards missing from my collection.

    So, I was told to head out to the floating cruise ship and defeat all the sailors. They would have rare cards to add to my collection. So I did, and new and exciting rare cards they did indeed possess. (I played against some pretty nifty decks, I must say).

    I then headed back to my hometown to fight the "black-suited" folks. It turns out that I had to participate once again in my local tournament, defeat the black-suited fellows..and hey! I finished the game! (it was sudden because it was a 2-match opposed to the 5-match one I had played last). I thought I would have to win each towns tourney again, against black-suited fellows in order to get the last medal. I guess not. No problem, I'm not complaining.

    While the story, graphics, etc. of this game are clearly sub-par, the gameplay is not. It doesn't hurt that the game is based on what seems to be a very solid CCG design, but the interface for the actual card battles is pretty well done. Also, the it seems that the actual CCG's design is pretty well adapted to handheld gaming. Matches don't drag on, which is a real boon.

    Here's a list of the features of the CCG game design I thought were interesting:

    1. There are no "hit points". Basically, if you take a hit you lose. However you are initially protected by 5 shields. (so you can take 5 hits, one more and you lose).

    2. There is no (apparent?) way to recover shields, so games WILL spiral to and end.

    3. Shields are cards that have been randomly drawn from your deck. When you lose a shield, the card goes back into your hand. Sometimes I found myself "strategically" letting a hit through, just get to an extra card in my hand.

    4. Deck size is only 40 cards. This low number (standard CCG is 60?) is friendlier towards shorter games and handheld gaming since it is easier to organize/create decks. Surprisingly, I never had a game where myself or my opponent ran out of cards in our decks. (I have no idea what happens when that occurs either)

    5. There are no "land" cards. (ie, cards whose sole function is to provide energy/mana/resources required to summon/cast/use other cards). Every round you can pick up to one card from your deck and place it in your "mana" zone. This card can now only be used to generate mana. (ie, it doesn't matter what the card's text was originally, it is now considered a land card only) This avoids the typical "mulligan" problems in CCGs where you need to balance two general types of cards: fuel, and stuff that needs fuel.

    6. Blocking (or preventing enemy creatures from attacking your shields) is a special ability. So, combat tends to be more aggressive (ie, fast) since it is harder to set up a good defensive position.

    There are a few other characteristics that are interesting. Overall I have to say that this was an interesting game, and I'm glad I got to take a look at a "new" CCG I wasn't familiar with. (I've been out of that loop for a while...hehehe)
    read comments (4) read comments - add a comment Add comment
    [April 17, 2006 08:47:45 AM]
    Time played 11 hrs and 10 mins.
    Win 84, Loss 9.

    This game is redefining the word "grind". I have to "earn experience" in order to go up in levels enough that I may be allowed to participated in tournaments. However, going up a level does not (as far as I can tell) provide me with any in-game benefits. I don't get better cards, new skills, etc.

    This is very different from your typical RPG where leveling up gives you SOMETHING . I guess this feels more like "real life", where a new competitor must "battle" his way up the ranks until he is recognized as worthy of participating in important tournaments. For example, Joe Schmoe isn't allowed to play in Roland Garros...until his ranking is high enough.

    Hmmm... the stuff to think of. Which is better, the real like grind or the RPG grind?
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    [April 9, 2006 04:55:00 PM]
    I was about to start complaining about something...and then it got fixed! (somewhat).

    An annoying "feature" in this game is that you can only have one deck of cards. That's pretty lame since it is a bit of a pain to configure a new deck, so why bother messing around... except that.... I just got a new "pouch" which lets me have two decks! Yay! (just in time, eh?)
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    [April 7, 2006 10:36:06 AM]
    Play time: 5 hrs 43 min
    Wins: 35
    Losses: 2

    So the way this game works is that you travel from town to town. In each town you duel everyone until you've levelled up enough to participate in the local tournament. Win the tournament, get a medal, move on to the next town. Sometimes, you end up dueling with one NPC multiple times...which drew attention to a particular design decision in this game. I'm not yet sure if it works or not, but it is worthy of discussion...

    Basically, whenever you duel with an NPC the deck of cards used by the NPC is random. I don't mean random in the sense that he could have ANY set of cards, rather that if you duel an NPC twice he will not have the same cards the second time around as the first.

    Now, this minor thing has some pretty far-reaching implications.

    Here is what I think are the negative ones:
    1. Characterization is pretty poor. NPCs basically become cookie-cutter puppets with no distinctive personalities, flavor, dueling styles, etc.
    2. There is no reason to duel with all the NPCs, you might as well repeatedly duel the same one.
    3. You can't customize your deck to face a specific opponent. In other words, your deck should be of the best-vanilla kind. (equally good to take on any opponent, rather than specialized for certain opponents)

    Here are the positive ones:
    1. You don't end up customizing your deck to specific opponents. (it's more about overall strategy rather than taking advantage of prior knowledge to create a one-time killer deck)
    2. You always face a "different" opponent. It feels more "fresh"...

    Its funny to me how the positive aspects are very similar to the negative ones...hmm...need to think some more.


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    [April 5, 2006 09:33:26 AM]
    I've been chugging along winning all my battles. No problem.

    Up until yesterday afternoon, I was starting to get a little bit bored because it was too easy. Not only was I winning my battles easily, but I wasn't making any changes to my deck of cards. What I had was good enough, so why bother fixing something that wasn't broken, right?

    Anyways, yesterday afternoon I "talked" to a character (who looked like a large gypsy woman) who then proceeded to TOTALLY shuffle my deck with my library (the set of cards I wasn't using). I had just been forced to do what the game hadn't been able to encourage: tweak and change your deck.


    My current gripe is that the deck configuration tool is pretty bad in terms of offering useful functionality. I keep on going back to the one in Kingdom Hearts (GBA) which let you browse cards by type, cost, etc.
    add a comment Add comment
    [April 3, 2006 03:35:54 PM]
    I am now playing this game on "normal".

    When you start, you are given the option of starting on "easy" or "normal" and are informed that you will be given a chance to change later on. Sure enough, after 3 battles or so I was offered the chance to change over to "normal" with the corresponding warnings/observations. (ex: once in normal, you can't change back...some sections of the game are not available in easy mode).

    I though this was a really cool thing to do. First of all, it let me start playing on easy without feeling terribly self-conscious. (what would my friends think if they knew I was playing on easy!) It also clearly explained the consequences of the decision. It gave me a chance to play the game in an easier mode without fear of missing anything important. It gave me a chance to try it out without fear of losing. I wanted to learn the card combat system...I didn't want to suffer humiliating (and un-educational) losses in the meantime.

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    [March 30, 2006 10:59:24 AM]
    This game has a pretty decent tutorial, which for games based on non-electronic CCG's, is a very good thing. I've heard that the Yu-Gi-Oh games don't have unless you already know how to play the card game, there's no sense in getting the videogame. Sounds almost stupid, doesn't it?

    Anyways, as I went through the tutorial I kept thinking, this game is exactly like Magic:The Gathering...with a few slight changes. (most changes seem to be to streamline the game and make it faster, which in this case is a good thing). Same concepts (mana, tapping, blocking, attacking, etc.)

    So far the game is ok. My experience is obviously suffering from my lack of knowledge of the card game, but all the info I need is there. I really appreciate that.
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    jp's Duel Masters: Sempai Legends (GBA)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 29 March, 2006

    GameLog closed on: Friday 21 April, 2006

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    The CCG game design is solid and easy to learn. Good experience from that point of view.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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