Hello Little Lights! For those who have been keeping track of my Twitter Account this might not come as a surprise! Yet I have recently played a RomHack of my favourite franchise that I really want to talk to you about today! What if we combine Pokémon with YuGiOh?! I got my game on and tried this rom! A journey began …but I felt like this game was missing something, perhaps some spirit… or maybe even the heart of the cards?!
In the past I have already played Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Team Training. Which was a Dragon Ball Rom hack of the same base game. Fire-Red. However where in that game we do see some locations reskinned and renamed here we travel through good old Kanto. No Domino city here.. though that makes sense. YuGiOh is fairly barren of locations. As it is very much set in one city and one island and maybe the Egypt of the past.
Yet even then in that ancient egypt there wasn’t much dueling going on. PokéDuel also only really has references up to to 5d’s and those are very minimal. Rather than being Pokémon YuGiOh this kind of feels more like Pokémon YuGiOh Abridged. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are 163 new creatures to collect, so for those well versed in YuGiOh lore and even those who just saw an arc or two of the first season.. there are still plenty of monsters to add to your team that you will know.
Gym Leaders have also been replaced including their respective typing. A lot of monsters even have custom typings and every monster has somewhat altered movesets so they seem more interesting. For example Dark Magician Girl will learn psybeam, but also a lot of moves like attract, sweet kiss and barrier to mirror the role of a card she had in the series. It goes so far that this actually has a fairly large impact on the game as YuGiOh monsters tend to not have a lot of moves in the anime,, the card monsters in this game reflect that and get a lot more stat boosting, or status inducing moves.
This game is not something you should play without a healthy dose of full heals! So gameplay wise, I actually found this rom to be a fairly interesting departure from the Pokémon formula ,and instead we go for a slower type of gameplay, with more tactical plays to be made. Neat! So just by swapping creatures around and typing availability the game changes a lot!
Examples of gameplay changing is very noticable in Dragon Type cards. If you know a bit about YuGiOh, you’ll know Dragon cards are very common in the game, so Dragon Types.. are not always that tactical to have. Dark type is SUPER common as well , so is the normal type. So fighting types are very strong to have in this game, many of the 5d’s cards are steel type after all. Water types are really uncommon only existing in the form of Humanoid Slime and Archery Girl as well as the Legendary Fisherman and a handful of other cards.. but going from one of the most common typings to one of the least common means you will have to adjust your strategies! And that is the saving grace of this game! It offers a very interesting take on Pokémon battling and will make you a better fighter.. Unfortunately the rest of the game isn’t very good.
Dark Mirror Force
First of all this game is UGLY! I don’t want to rip on peoples pixel-art and people are still working on this game but it is made public , so I think I am allowed to have my opinion here.. and this game isn’t pretty! Overworld sprites are okay.. because famous duelists have been ripped out of those GBA store games like Resheff of Destruction or that narrative god cards game. You will recognise them Tea, Tristan and the others quite easily! ..It does result in some problems though!
For example Pegasus is an Elite 4 member.. but instead of his iconic look we get the Reshef of Destruction restyle.. where he called himself Sol! Odd choice! Dartz is a Gymleader and obviously he has no sprite so that one looks very odd! And then there is the fact that a YuGiOh sprite is twice as tall as the trainer sprite.. so we get some odd ratios in the overworld.. as well as regular pokémon still appearing in that world.. it looks odd to find a Kabuto Fossil while the item uses the dome fossil to revive Exodia Necross. It just screams fan remake.. something that was less apparent in a few other hacks.
In battle though is where the game really looks like a digested Kuriboh. The Dark Magician sprite is FANTASTIC, so is her back sprite… but some of the duelist and some monsters look like …..crabcakes..that have been eaten by a dog.. and passed out. Some art is really good! The starters look pretty amazing! Other art however looks like it has been drawn in paint. Some of the monsters are absolutely non recognisable. Like Change of Heart of Buster Blader. What am I looking at?! However I could find myself liking this if it had been done ironically!
The problem is that there is no style which makes that paint work look uglier than an Orange shouty man.. if you had soaked him in a tub of red beets.. all pruned up and all! Some trainer sprites are just heads. Their portraits from Starway of the Destined Duel.. while some have been made in pair style. Other times they are simplified version of the overworld sprite. There is no style though! Odion’s head is completely blown up large and in your face, while the Elite 4 is custom sprite work.. The same goes for the monsters. I should be scared when I see a five headed dragon for the first time! Not laughing my ass off. Cyber End Dragon is supposed to feel menacing. .. not like a nest full of baby birds crying for momma to feed them.
Besides the ugly sprite work is how limited the game feels! Dialogue has been replaced with YuGiOh dialogue.. but it has been done randomly! Up to a point where one guy in a Pokémon Center can mention his Pokémon while the other makes a comment about dueling on MotorCycles. There is no immersion in this world as the game is very much unfinished at least in terms of feeling. There is no cohesion, and what is said feels a bit like a retread of YuGiOh Abridged.
Take Lavender town for example, the entire ghost tower is one giant Pot of Greed joke! Which is fun, I laughed but if every character in the tower there makes the same joke, I would have rather seen a funny reference elsewhere. It feels as if the creators of this Romhack were to afraid we would not like their jokes so they mostly used the ones of little Kuriboh.. and that is a shame!
Because WHEN the game does it’s own thing with the franchise it does it nicely. Before entering Rock Tunnel for example you encounter a duplicate of the old man laying on the ground sprite.. with a little girl sitting besides him. She makes a joke that her Grandpa had a near heart attack at the announcements of Pendulum Summons! I hate that mechanic myself so I laughed really hard.. it also combines this iconic Pokémon thing with a relevant joke in the YuGiOh and that is where this game can shine! In lavender town you can find a man who makes a very good yugioh/ this is a rom hack joke. Where they used to burry pokemon and people… now they bury cards. \
There is soul in that! Yet then they add in green hair Kaiba.. as a reference to season 0 of YuGiOh, but when defeated he says, screw the rules I have green hair. I like the joke.. but not as a line for when defeated. It would be funny if they had replaced the Saffron City guard with it. and when letting you through he could say the line. Weevil is in Erica’s joke and he makes a joke about all women that surround him.. yet the old man outside has not been given new text.. missed opportunities. Team Rocket is just a team rocket. That would make for a great henchman joke.. with finger guns! It just lacks that sense of cohesion.
Mai replaces Surge and could have been made more interesting by replacing “there is a switch there” by .. what’s this you picked up a strange scent.. and the second line with, you found a scented card. Just something, Blaine’s Quiz was still a pokemon quiz, I would have loved Yu Gi Oh questions! It just feels like random people did random parts of the game and it has been stitched together like a patchwork quilt.. where the creators tend to thread on the safe side just a bit too much, despite their amazingly interesting battle system.
Kaiba versus Marik
In the end we end up with a game that feels a bit like a match between Kaiba and Marik. It definitely has some interesting back and forth in terms of gameplay.. but something is not feeling right! The two personalities are too similar and the same kind of lines are repeated back and fourth without much to keep you engaged. You’d miss that sense of Grandeur that Joey or Yugi can bring to a match! Kaiba versus Marik also seems like a match that is not meant to be.. if it was in the anime, we would probably see Joey and Yugi doing some other stuff at the same time.. time skipping trough the match with the field constantly growing bigger and crazier but we would lack the rhyme or reason! And it’s a shame! Because the ingredients for a great game are here!
I had some of the best pokémon battles in this game from a tactical sense and it was fun to play the game at a different pace! Yet at the same time I kept asking myself questions, why does Kuriboh evolve into Kuribabylon with a Moonstone? Why does Relinquished transform into restrict with that same item?! I get why Neos turns into Neos Aqua Dolphin with a water stone, but why is Celtic Guardian a Grass type.. and at that why is he pretty much the only grass type in the game?! It is a game that gets really close to getting it right.. but leaves too much work undone to feel as a proper attempt at a crossover ..for now!
Give it a try if you are a big fan of both franchises AND Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged, otherwise I’d say it’s a good idea to let this one sit in it’s cocoon of evolution for a little while longer. I really enjoyed the more status and effect heavy way of battling , yet at the same time it slows the game pace down a lot, and Pokémon already has a fairly slow pace of it’s own! So it is something you would need to keep in consideration. More times than you’d want you’ll find your monsters Paralyzed , Confused and Attracted, which does fix some gameplay issues..but creates others of it’s own. In the end I think that is really what this game is. Rather than an evolution of Pokémon Games, this aims more to feel like a Spin Off…. as if we would get Yu-Gi-Oh.. but on Motorcycles..or something!