Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom is Konami's latest use of Kazuki Takahashi's inexplicably popular manga, anime, and collectible-card game. Though the current standards set by previous Yu-Gi-Oh! games aren't particularly high, The Falsebound Kingdom is one of the most poorly realized Yu-Gi-Oh! games yet, and it almost seems to be testing the limits of what sort of monotonous, dreary games the fans are willing to tolerate.
The Falsebound Kingdom attempts to blend RTS and RPG conventions, but it isn't terribly successful.
Though the standard Yu-Gi-Oh! stories revolve around a group of kids and the adventures they have while playing Duel Monsters, a collectible-card game where the monsters on the cards come to life, The Falsebound Kingdom takes the action to an immersive virtual-reality video game where the creatures of the Duel Monsters game are real. Yugi and his friends are invited to check out a prototype of this virtual-reality game and are immediately trapped inside the game, with the only apparent exit being to finish the game. Inside the game, there is a civil war going on, and whether you choose to play as Kaiba or Yugi will determine whether you side with the oppressive king or the rebel movement, respectively. The story that proceeds inside the virtual-reality world is of little consequence, though the game brims with pretense and presents the story in a very dry, serious manner--the game starts off with a quote from 19th-century Irish philosopher Alexander Irvine, which sets the tone for the rest of the game.
The actual gameplay in The Falsebound Kingdom is one part stripped-down real-time strategy and one part stripped-down turn-based role-playing game. You're placed on a map and given a mission objective. The objectives are straightforward, usually boiling down to basic RTS-type objectives like defending certain positions or simply beating all of your opponents. The game, however, strips out a lot of the standard RTS conventions, such as resource gathering and army building. Instead of having a legion of individual units, you're given control over marshals, each of whom has command over three monsters, and the only way to gain control over new marshals is by completing missions. When you face off against an opposing marshal, the game switches to the combat mode, which is not unlike what you'd see in a standard Japanese console RPG. From here, the monsters take turns beating on the other side until one side is victorious. There's a little more to the game than just moving characters around on the map and engaging in stripped-down RPG fights. You'll often have to occupy towns and use the spoils of war to equip the towns with defenses, armories, and infirmaries for your marshals, and there are a few special group attacks that your monsters can perform under special circumstances, but none of this really brings much significant depth to the action.