Combine the Yu-Gi-Oh! card-collecting phenomenon with futuristic racing and you get the upcoming Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Wheelie Breakers for the Nintendo Wii. The game is a departure from the endlessly deep card-battling games on other platforms and looks to combine friendly controls with a touch of the collectible strategizing that keeps Yu-Gi-Oh! players engrossed. We had a chance to play the game during Konami's recent spring press event in San Francisco.
The game will have three modes of play: a quick-start grand prix mode that will let you get into the action right away, a story mode that will take you through the various characters and card types that will be found in the game, and split-screen multiplayer action for up to four players on the same system. We gave the grand prix mode a couple of tries and found out that, as you might expect from a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, there's more going on during a race than a simple sprint to the finish line.
You use both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk to play the game. The Nunchuk is for handling your bike, and the Wii Remote is responsible for the card-based summoning and spellcasting. The bikes themselves handle in a simplistic manner, and it quickly becomes obvious that victory in the grand prix will be less due to your ability to stick to the racing line than to your skill with your deck of cards.
You start the race with a number of cards available to you from your deck that can be configured as you like beforehand. These cards include spells that can have positive effects on your rider (such as giving you a temporary speed boost) or negative effects on your opponents (such as reducing their hit points). The spell cards are nice, but you'll likely get the most use from the summon cards, which will summon a Yu-Gi-Oh! creature to accompany you as you speed along the track. You can then use the summoned beast to attack riders ahead of (or behind) you. In addition, any attacks directed at you will be taken by your summoned creature.
Based on our experience, it's temping to burn through your cards quickly. Strategy-minded players, though, will realize there's a time and place for every card's use. In addition, once you go through your cards, you'll have to earn more action points (by driving over specific spots on the track) to free up new cards during the race. With characters and creatures pulled from the relatively new Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's TV series, Wheelie Breakers looks to take on the kart-racing phenomenon, while still catering to the series' card-collecting roots. Look for more on the game in the coming months.