Similar to the majority of the Yu-Gi-Oh! games that Konami has published over the past five years or so, Nightmare Troubadour for the Nintendo DS aims to accomplish the familiar goal of re-creating the real-world Yu-Gi-Oh! collectible card game. Nightmare Troubadour is marginally more successful than many of its predecessors to this end, thanks to an engaging tutorial system and the tactile advantage inherent to the Nintendo DS hardware.
Nightmare Troubadour doesn't waste a lot of time with setup, and within minutes of booting up the game you'll find yourself in the role of a young novice duelist prowling the town in search of other duelists to battle. There's competition all over the place, but you'll have to use your "duelist radar" to ferret them out, which requires you to drag a cursor around a city map with your stylus until the cursor starts "beeping" red. This would have a more immersive effect if the choice of your prospective opponents wasn't limited by your current experience level.
Once you've found a match, the game eases quickly into familiar Yu-Gi-Oh! territory. A quick ro-sham-bo game is played to determine who will take the first turn, and then you're brought to a standard Yu-Gi-Oh! card table. From here, the game is fundamentally no different from any of the other Yu-Gi-Oh! card games--each player, armed with a deck of monster, trap, and spell cards, tries to whittle their opponent's hit points down to zero. Mechanically, though, the game feels less abstract than it has in its prior console incarnations, due largely to this version's touch screen support. There's just something about using the stylus to physically tap the cards to activate them that makes the card game feel less simulated.
In the past, if you didn't know how to play the game, you either figured it out through trial and error, or, more likely, you simply didn't play at all. Nightmare Troubadour makes things much more inviting for the uninitiated with a small library of extremely helpful tutorials, which can be accessed at any time when you're not in an actual duel. These written tutorials cover everything from basic rules and terminology to more advanced strategies. Though the tutorials can be a little dense at times, they also can be incredibly helpful for first-timers. In addition to these non-interactive tutorials, there is a series of "puzzle" matches, where you're presented with a contrived scenario in which you'll have to use a specific strategy to complete successfully. Whether you're a beginner or not, these puzzle matches are a good way to hone your skills.