Version tested: DS
Never in a million years did we imagine that one day we'd start a review by reminiscing about the good old days of Yu-Gi-Oh! but that seems to be exactly what's happening here. Makes us feel sort of dirty, but we'll run with it for now. You see, World Championship 2007 really makes us miss the days of being offered a variety of starting decks at the beginning of a new game.
The basic starter set here is an absolute mess, a cobbled-together Elemental Hero deck with almost no decent cards and only a single copy of each. This makes picking up wins against even the most relaxed opponents something of a chore and building your deck into something more impressive is no mean feat either. Where other Yu-Gi-Oh! games have started with only a few booster packs unlocked and introduced the rest along the way, WC2007 starts with many of them open for business so finding your desired cards can be pretty tricky unless you know exactly what you're looking for. This is usually where the card password system would save the day but with single a good card setting you back as many DP (Duel Points, the game's currency) as 25 booster packs, you're better off just trawling through packs until you find the cards you need.
This slow start is a real shame because almost everything else about World Championship 2007 is as tight and expansive as the game's subject matter allows it to be. You can try your hand at all kinds of play modes - from solving duel puzzles (like newspaper chess puzzles, using a given set-up to flip the odds and pull out a single turn win) to competing in events with certain restrictions and even endurance matches. Even within the basic duelling, there's no shortage of opposition as each rival has a different and interesting deck concept that can inspire you to go off and create something bigger and better of your own once you amass the necessary amount of cards. And once your collection starts encompassing some of the better cards, there's almost limitless potential in what your decks can do.
Best of all, though, is support for Wi-Fi Connection duelling against anybody in the world and the online action doesn't stop there. Proper leaderboards and even downloadable content that ranges from single cards to player ghosts make this an almost perfect example of how the DS' online service can be put to use in capable hands but having said that, there are a few concerns about this side of the game. Cheating through the use of Action Replays and other such game-breaking devices is worryingly rife here, allowing unscrupulous duellists to rig their decks with multiple copies of outlawed cards, do insane damage off basic attacks or just gyp their way to the top of the leaderboards.
Konami has taken steps to try and prevent this but as soon as you start playing higher ranked duellists, you're bound to bump into a dirty cheater sooner or later. Some have turned this to their advantage, though, downloading the ridiculously high-ranked ghosts of cheaters and farming DP by smashing their awful decks over and over. Avoid the cheaters (and the stroppy disconnectors, who are just as prevalent here as in the rest of one-on-one online play) and network play is wonderful, though - making use of the friend code system is obviously the best way to steer clear of these unsavoury characters.
The huge time investment required to make anything that resembles progress means that this is hardly the best place for newcomers to start but by stark contrast, there's no better Yu-Gi-Oh! title on the market in terms of card lists, AI and sheer longevity. Deck-building potential is off the scale and even if a few cards are missing from previous games, you're guaranteed to find something that does pretty much the same job if you look hard enough. And with so many online players netdecking combos that they don't really know how to use, a solid home-made deck has the element of surprise which is usually enough to rack up at least a few wins and so ingenuity and originality are often rewarded in this way. If you're able to trade cards across from Spirit Caller or Nightmare Troubadour, or don't mind the idea of ploughing hours into getting enough decent cards together for a great deck, World Championship 2007 is a superb card game, and arguably the best portable one we've seen in years, in fact.
Otherwise, you're probably better off sitting this one out and keeping your fingers crossed that Card Fighters Clash is as good as we expect it to be. Or just waiting on the next Yu-Gi-Oh! game. It's probably out next week. Honestly, we're having trouble keeping up here.
7 / 10