by Aaron Einhorn
Although our family are big devotees of The Hub television network, for some reason or another, we had avoided watching Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters. I don’t know why – there wasn’t anything that we objected to about the show on principle. Christina and I used to watch Pokemon all the time, and Cordy watches it now. Sure, the show seemed like a rip-off of Yu-Gi-Oh based on the commercials, but that isn’t a sin, is it?
We never played the card game, or the previous incarnation of the game Duel Masters. Again, there was no reason for it. We just… never did.
So, one afternoon, after watching Super Hero Squad, Cordy says “I want to watch this next show.” And thus, we ended up watching our first episode of Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters.
I was charmed by the show, which features Ray and his friends Allie and Gabe as each learns to become a duel master. Through a combination of martial arts, and fantastical monsters which are summoned by their gauntlets, the characters learn about loyalty, honor, integrity and friendship. Was the most original premise for a show ever? Of course not, but it was well-animated, the characters were likable, and the monsters are cool looking.
So, it was with pleasure that I accepted Hasbro’s invitation to come and visit their booth at the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend. Timing conflicts prevented me from meeting with the creative cast of the show, but I was shown around the booth to learn more about the various games Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast have developed around the property.
What I learned was that, for the first time in the history of WotC and their children’s lines of games (including the Pokemon Trading Card Game), Kaijudo has been developed from the start with an eye towards integrating the Trading Card Game, their various online and mobile app games, and the television show. There is a concentrated effort to allow kids to learn about the various creatures who inhabit the Kaijudo world, and to let them develop their favorites, in a similar manner to that displayed between the kids and their creatures on the Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters television show.
Perhaps the weakest element in terms of developing that connection is, ironically, the one with the closest connection to the original concept. The Kaijudo trading card game is a reimagining and refinement of an older trading card game, Duel Masters. Because of the connection to the older game, the TCG is less built around a single creature (although you can build a deck focused on different elements of one creature if you really desire), and is a little bit more like Magic the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh in that you can summon lots of very different creatures.
That’s only a minor criticism, however, because what the Kaijudo TCG lacks in building an instant connection to one creature, it makes up for in fun. Kaijudo is fast paced, allowing the game to ramp up quickly, and short. I played a demo of the game at the booth and we played an entire game from start to finish in about ten minutes, and that included time I spent learning the game and asking questions. While I am hesitant to embrace any TCG again at this point in my life, simply because of a lack of money for cards and a lack of space to store them, I will say that I had enough fun with Kaijudo that I would consider playing it with my daughters. It’s easy enough to learn, and doesn’t require any outside counters, dice or coins. And it plays quickly, which is always a plus. This isn’t a game that you need to devote hours and hours to playing – it can be a quick “Let’s do this while we wait for your sister to finish taking her bath,” kind of game, and that’s excellent.
In addition to the TCG, Hasbro has rolled out a whole variety of Kaijudo elements on the official website for the line, www.kaijudo.com. The website contains a little bit of everything for the Kaijudo fan, including libraries to learn about the creatures, screen images, snippets of episodes from the Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters television show, and not one but two different online games.
The first of the online game offerings is a port of the TCG. Titled “Kaijudo Online: Digital Training Card Game”, this game offers a relatively straightforward way to play the TCG anywhere you have a web browser. Kids (and adults) can customize their avatar, including designing their own dueling gauntlet (like the ones worn by Sam, Allie, Gabe and their allies and enemies), and then build their own virtual Kaijudo deck to play against online opponents.
The other online offering is the “Kaijudo” Battle Game, which uses similar mechanics to the trading cards, but with their own subtle variations. This game is also available for mobile devices (iPhone and iPad only at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Android versions soon.)
The final online game is actually a mobile game for the iPad/iPod Touch, titled “Kaijudo Dojo App”. This game has the player trace kata symbols to battle against other monsters. It’s harder than it sounds, but oddly addicting and fun. If you ever enjoyed the “Pokeranger” games for the Nintendo DS, you’ll likely feel right at home with this game.
All in all, the world of Kaijudo, and its different game and television offerings all integrate really nicely. The games are designed to help develop strategy and creativity, and the world develops loyalty, honor and integrity. I appreciate the folks at Hasbro taking the time to show me around their booth and introducing me to the world of Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters. I’m certain more episodes of the show are in my future, and as my kids get over their fear of physical card games (although they love the online ones), I suspect Kaijudo cards will soon show up in my home.
Full Disclosure: I was invited by Hasbro to visit their booth at Comic Con, and given the demos of the games while a representative took time to explain things to me. I did not receive any compensation from Hasbro/The Hub, although I did receive some of the promotional items they were giving out to all Comic Con attendees to take back home to my kids.