In my pre-teen years, the Yu-Gi-Oh Manga, Anime (the sub and the dub!) and Trading Card Game were an obsession of mine; it went beyond being a mere interest. It was always exciting to see what new cards Yugi and his friends would play and what crazy, convoluted moves they would come up with to get themselves out of jams. Me and my friends would regularly blow through our allowances buying endless booster packs and tins. We would spend incalculable hours trading cards and discussing deck strategies. In school, I would often plan out deck ideas and combos when I should have been paying attention in class. I also credit Yu-Gi-Oh with getting me my first "real job" at Books-A-Million.
In those years (early 2000 oughts), we didn't have the funds or the means to build the decks of our dreams, so the Yu-Gi-Oh video games helped fulfill that fantasy. Some video games like Forbidden Memories, Dark Duel Stories or The Sacred Cards took A LOT of liberties with the actual trading card game gameplay and mechanics and are too different to compare to the real McCoy.
The World Championship series for Game Boy Advance were a different story: they were for the most part up-to-date (at the time) simulators of the OCG version of the card game. There were a few glitches and errors here and there, there were a few cards missing, but they served their purpose well. Yu-Gi-Oh! Stairway to the Destined Duel and Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship 2006, in particular, might just be my most played video games ever, even surpassing the hundreds of hours I put into my SNES favorites, certain Final Fantasy games or even my handheld Pokemon games.
The Yu-Gi-Oh simulator games on Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and PSP were successful for a time, but eventually slumped in sales to the point Konami (Who publishes the card game and Yu-Gi-Oh video games) stopped releasing them outside of Japan. With the rise of digital gaming, they started to make their way back to International storefronts (such as the PlayStation Store) and now we got physical releases with promotional cards to support them.
Link Evolution continues the Yu-Gi-Oh simulation game legacy. This Switch exclusive is an updated version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist (which was released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One). Not only have a ton of new cards been added, but this game is (to my knowledge) the first Yu-Gi-Oh game to feature the Link Monsters; the major new Yu-Gi-Oh game mechanic that was introduced in 2017. At 9000 cards, this has the largest cardpool of any Yu-Gi-Oh video game. For the sake of reference, Yu-Gi-Oh 2006 for GBA had 3000 cards, and that was eyebrow-raising at the time.
Link Evolution honors the legacy of the Yu-Gi-Oh media franchise by allowing you to reenact the major duels from all 6 eras (as of this writing): Duel Monsters, GX, 5Ds, Zexal, Arc-V and VRAINS. In the campaign mode, you can either use a deck based on the cards your character uses in the anime, or you can use one of your own decks from cards you collect in game. So if Jaden or Yusei or Yuma’s duels were more to your liking than Yugi’s, you can take a few steps in their shoes.
The Tag Force and Millennium Duel games were the last few Yu-Gi-Oh simulator video games I played and spent money on. As fun as those were, I found the deckbuilding interface in those games to be convoluted and the opposite of intuitive. Thankfully, things have improved in Link Evolution: the search settings and filters are what they need to be.
A common complaint I hear people make all the time when they're trying to get back into Yu-Gi-Oh is that they don't understand how the new Extra deck mechanics (such as Synchros, Xyz, Pendulums, Links and so on) work. What makes Link Evolution such a great game for total newbies and experienced Yu-Gi-Oh players alike is that the main campaign eases you into how all of the game mechanics. The Duel Monsters era eases you into the most basic mechanics of the game, GX puts more emphasis on Fusion, 5Ds, warms you up into Synchros and so-on and so forth. Myself, having been out of competitive Yu-Gi-Oh I had been struggling to understand how Pendulums and Links work: Link Evolution's tutorials gave me the guidance I needed to place my Pendulum Scales and Link Up!
If you've been out of the loop for a while, keep in mind that the rules go under the 2017 Master Rule Revision, so you can't draw during the first turn nor can you spam Fusions, Synchros and Xyz monsters left and right.
Link Evolution also offers online duels. I’ve had no issues in the 4 hours I’ve put into them. The timer feature discourages greifing. There’s a Booster Draft mode that allows you to make your own random deck with cards from the real-life set: Battle Pack: Epic Dawn (You can later unlock Battle Pack Series 2). There’s a lot of great cards in this set; I found this mode to be exciting and challenging, the random factor notwithstanding.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is great for Yu-Gi-Oh newbies and veterans. I highly recommend this one for Switch owners who want to try Yu-Gi-Oh, are getting back into it, or want a video game that's a bit more up-to-the-moment.