Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Wheelie Breakers
Genre: Racing/Card Battle
Release Date: 05/19/09
It’s been a while since I’ve taken to playing Yu-Gi-Oh! on the console. I never got into the actual card game as too much math was involved for my taste, but I followed my son’s interest and the show for a time. So I was a bit intrigued when our editor passed this along. A Yu-Gi-Oh! card game that you play against others while racing motorcycles? You can even customize your decks and racing gear. I had to give this a spin, or was this thing going to spin me?
You’ve got three modes with this game, story, grand prix and matchup. Matchup mode is the multiplayer mode. No, there is no online with it. You race up to four others (Eight if you want to add in four CPU controlled opponents.) on a split screen. You can use any of the duel runners (bikes) you’ve unlocked along with your cards you’ve bought. Other people can bring their racing data over if they have it saved on their wii mote, otherwise they’re stuck with whatever options you’ve unlocked. Matchup mode can be played on your lonesome if you want a quick run, but up against the other riders with a beginner deck won’t win you many points.
Grand Prix mode I found the most interesting of the three. You have to participate in a series of races to win a cup racing against seven other drivers. You get points for placing in the races and whoever has the most points at the end wins the cup. You have to play in each to unlock them, but like the matchup mode you’ll want to play in story mode and unlock more bikes and cards or you will get your duel runner handed to you rather quickly.
Story mode really is the big thrust of the game, which is a bit disappointing. You play as a racer who’s living in a place where he can’t race in the games because it’s illegal. Yeah, no girl options for players here at all. Anyway, your friend gets you what equates to a deck in Shadowrun. Now you can tap into a virtual world and race there, where it’s perfectly legal and you can aspire to race like your hero, the lead character in the show. You then proceed in a series of one on one matches working your way up the racing circuit to get bigger and better rewards and unlock more cards and bikes. The story itself is predictable and the dialogue isn’t that great.
Story/Modes Rating: Great
Using a combination of 2D sprites and backgrounds for the cutscenes between races, and full 3D cel-shading while you’re racing and during the intro movie, the game looks mostly decent. I was actually liking the sprites in the cutscenes more than the 3D models as they gave the cel-shading kind of a big outline to them; something I haven’t seen in that kind of shading in several years. It makes the models look thick and clunky with this giant blob of black around them as they get further away, not sleek like the bikes should look. That has a bit more to do with my aesthetic than anything else, but it was distracting at some points.
This game isn’t going to win awards for game of the year in the graphics category though. It would have been nice to be able to read card abilities flat out though when going in the card store or sorting out your deck instead of zooming in every time. We have the screen sizes to handle text better than that people. Use it. What we got works for what it is though, most of the time. There were a few times I got too distracted because the art on the cards was too similar to several other cards and hesitated. That could have been bigger too. Sure there’s a newsticker at the bottom that tells you what the card does, but who has time to read that while you’re trying to make a tight corner to keep your lead?
Graphics Rating: Enjoyable
Most of the time when you play this you’re going to hear music that isn’t half bad but isn’t that memorable. You’ll also have to put up with the announcer repeating himself over and over again. He reminded me of the announcer from Dance Dance Revolution with his useless blatherings about how I’d managed to squeak ahead and how amazing it was. He said that every time I did it. Imagine hearing that every time you pass someone on the track back and forth for three or four minutes and you’re always neck and neck? Some variety there would have been fantastic. Here, it is just grating.
Story mode custscenes could have used some voice overs as well. I don’t mind reading them, but just a little tease of voice out of them would have been nice.
Sound Rating: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay
You have a few options with this game as far as controls go. If you opt to use the Wii Remote you’ll have to use the nunchuk, but you can also use the classic controller to play as well. There aren’t really any benefits either way and the only thing the Wii remote uses the motion control for is to reverse direction. The nunchuk is used to steer, accelerate and pop on the brakes and the wiimote is used to shuffle and play your cards as well as getting your summoned monster to attack.
In all of the modes the basic gameplay is the same. You run a duel runner around a track, picking up points and passing what they call draw points to pull another card from your deck into your hand. The tracks are fairly simple and aren’t really what you have to pay much attention to. Your opponents are the issue. If your opponent hasn’t summoned a monster you can attack them directly with spells or your monster. There are also trap cards and effect cards that can affect your speed and place in the race. Some spells can boost your speed as well. You can customize your duel runner by upping various stats with cards from your deck, different types boosting different stats. In grand prix and matchup modes you can use the duel runners of opponent’s you’ve beaten in story mode.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Enjoyable
The only reason to really keep replaying story mode over and over is to unlock more cards. After you beat it, you can go back and keep redoing races over again to unlock more cards in the store as you only get one card unlocked per race regularly and it’s rarely one you’ll really want to use. Racing against your friends could be fun in matchup mode. If they had more cards unlocked though, it could be far less fun for you as the decks and profiles are stored in their wiimote. I rather enjoyed the grand prix mode and there’s several cups to unlock there, but again it’s all tied to completing the story mode.
Replayability Rating: Good
Races do tend to get harder, not because the tracks get more difficult to navigate, but because your opponents have much better decks at their disposal. There is a kind of balance as you can upgrade your bike and what cards are available to you as you play through. There is virtually no learning curve to this. As long as you know which is what you’ll have no problem playing the game. Well, that is as long as you can get used to how awful the bikes handle and what the cards do. On top of this ,there is no real challenge to story mode. There are no minuses for losing a race there. You just don’t win as much or unlock anything, so you can keep doing the race over and over again with no real repercussions to them. You’re getting a decent chunk of game for your money, if you mind playing it over and over again. People who get the controls fast will fly through the story mode relatively quickly and then to unlock more you’ll have to keep doing it.
Balance Rating: Below Average
I have to give them points for the motorcycle dueling. I really do. It’s new and a different way all around to play ad keeps you on your toes. I just wish they’d put more into the tracks. They all have this industrial feel to them and they all seem to blend together with none of them really being too terribly different from one another. Out of the 125 cards you get in the game, I felt like I’d seen most of them before. Can’t we come up with any new cards at this point in Yu-Gi-Oh!’s life cycle?
Originality Rating: Below Average
I wanted to like playing this game, I really did. I just couldn’t get into it. In fact I was so fed up with it I had to force myself to play it for this review. Between the lackluster tracks, the abysmal controls, and having to re-do races because of screwed up summoning animations it was a struggle. Even my OCD didn’t kick in to want to try and collect all the cards, and that’s rare! It’ll take more than one or two plays to unlock all of the cards and bikes to buy and I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to do it.
Addictiveness Rating: Poor
Based off the anime, with a bit of tweaking of card abilities to fit in with the game mechanics and some flashing looking visuals and I can kind of see the appeal. This game just isn’t going to fly off shelves though. With the rather plain gameplay, bland characters, some goofy game glitches people aren’t going to be looking to this game for their Yu-Gi-Oh! fix.
Appeal Factor Rating: Below Average
Glitches and free cards. Let’s start with the glitches. While this first example was not a glitch per say, it was incredibly annoying to the point I turned it off, but the summoning animations take your view off the track and other races so you can see your summoned monster pop in over your head. If the race actually paused while this happened or just pulled the camera back it’d be fine, but it doesn’t. More than once this put me in a wall and then facing the wrong direction and a minute later at a loss so I had to do the race over again. Not cool.
While I was customizing out my bike, I realized instead of speed on one track I’d actually prefer some maneuverability. So I dropped some cards on it to increase that and jumped in the race. Yeah, the bike ended up handling worse. So I guess being maneuverable means not being able to turn hardly at all and enjoying smashing into everything.
The three free cards were a nice touch, but really, you can live without them, especially if you don’t play the card game. You could of course always trade them with someone who does.
Miscellaneous Rating: Poor
Control and Gameplay: Enjoyable
Balance: Below Average
Originality: Below Average
Appeal Factor: Below Average
FINAL SCORE: DECENT GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
This game has its flaws as most do, but most casual Yu-Gi-Oh! fans aren’t going to like this one. The controls are sloppy while you’re racing, the summoning animations can wreck your whole race forcing you to do it over again (I turned them off at one point after a rather nasty collision that had me facing the wrong way on the last lap!), and the starting deck is quite possibly one of the worst I’ve ever seen in a Yu-Gi-Oh! game. While it does have an interesting set of characters for you to race against, the game still feels very generic, and even if you’ve been following the show, you’re probably not going to get all that involved in it just because of the terrible dialogue and generic tracks with very little challenge in and of themselves.