Ah Magi-Nation. It was the twilight for Pokemon, and the dawn of Yu-Gi-Oh. Magic: The Gathering was around, but the game wasn't as friendly as its modern incarnation would be. Then, you came, with your games and promises of a newer, different way of going about things. Cash tourneys, fan playtesters, storyline tournaments! And, for the time it lasted, it was good.
The first game was a good, if ambitious little RPG. There were bugs, and Dummied Out
bits that still haunt me when I think of what might've been, but it was an endearing romp. Some parts were frustrating; the Orothe Gyeser and the Shadowhold, the latter of which was required to get the good ending.
But what made me happy most was that after the game ended, the CCG picked up, and the world was struggling to pick up the pieces left in our heroes wake. The writing wasn't top notch, but then, Magic hasn't been on top of that pile either. The card game itself wasn't as hardy. Certain mechanics became degenerate (discard), and rather than ban cards, 2i chose to issue errata. Good on paper, but bad idea in practice. Cards found themselves erraated even before release, and word got out that player-playtesters had deliberately designed a particularly degenerate deck. Orothe found itself nerfed every set. I never heard of any actual cash tournaments.
I too saw the TV show recently, and had to admit defeat once and for all.
I held out hope for this game, even as late as 2005, when the tv show was in limbo, and 2i was no more than a domain name and a jpeg. Last year (2008) I went to the last fansite to pay my respects to the series and the other members who had once been my friends. Now, it too has faded into obscurity, its last bastions DDOS'd by hackers. It was sad to watch the game rise and fall, but, in the long run, it has allowed me to grow to respect the games that have long term survivability.
And make me hate the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG all the more. Survival of the fittest is an ugly beast.