gaming

The 10 Best 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' Video Games Of All Time

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Konami

Yu-Gi-Oh! has had a long and storied history. There’s the manga that started it all, the anime that captured our hearts, and the trading card game—which made us question our playground friendships at least a few times. Ultimately came the final frontier: Video Games. 

 

Though a *relatively* new concept in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the rise in popularity of PC and console gaming thrust Konami into expanding their domain that the already hugely popular franchise had amassed in a short span of time. Most of the games that were originally released in the first few years were exclusive to Japan, so in this piece, we’ll only be covering those that were available in North America as well.

 

After over 20 years and 50+ game editions, some of these games have immersive storylines that pay homage to the original plot from the manga and anime, and others fall flat on their faces, are boring, and just overall stink. We’re here to help you save time and energy by giving you the best of what the series truly has to offer. So with that said, it’s time to d-d-d-d-duel.

10. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Wheelie Breakers'

Do you like Yu-Gi-Oh!? I think we know the answer to that, seeing as you’re reading this currently. Do you also like Mario Kart?!? If you answered yes, then do I have the game for you! Kicking off the list is Yu-Gi-Oh! Wheelie Breakers—a game based on the 5Ds series, which takes place in a futuristic world where the traditional dueling mechanics that the series is known for has been combined with the high speed and intensity of motorcycle racing. A unique concept indeed, but one that seems to really work in the wide world of Yu-Gi-Oh!

 

In the game, you take on the role of a new Turbo Duelist, straddling your own Duel Runner motorcycle and racing for the finish. This part of the game is pretty cut and dry, you win by being the first to reach the finish line just like any other racing game—the rest is where it gets interesting. The obstacles along the way are your enemy's entire deck full of annoying monsters, spells, and traps all working to make sure that your race is anything but easy. Each player has 4,000 Life Points, though a player does not lose if they reach zero, they just spin out. All in all, this a very unconventional game that puts a real twist into the series unlike any other game offering available, and is frustrating at first, but rewarding once you are able to figure out how to play!

buy now, $18.99

9. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! The Eternal Duelist Soul'

This game is a Gameboy Advance exclusive and was released in 2002, however even after 18 years, the game still holds up to some of the best names in the series. Although the card list is only ~800 in size, the game presents a real feel of dueling against your friends back in the day and still manages to be a lot of fun because of its tier-based duelists and decks. One of the best features of the game was the ability to import real cards from the actual TCG into the game via the unique card ID codes, which was an amazing way to merge the real world card game with the virtual one! You are also able to (via a physical cable) link up with and battle against friends, making the game all the more versatile for its time (pre-wifi connectivity; what a time). Boasting a score of 81 on Metacritic, this game is arguably one of the truest representations of the TCG in virtual form and provides an incredible feeling of nostalgia when playing through.

buy now, $5.99

8. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour'

Yu-Gi-Oh’s first title on the Nintendo DS did not disappoint! The game is a pretty straightforward duel monsters game as you role play as a novice duelist participating in the Battle City Tournament featuring many members of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! cast. The original Battle City storyline has been altered quite a bit however in order to extend game play and include duelists such as Maximillion Pegasus and the Paradox Brothers. The Virtual World story arc is also included as well, which I absolutely love (who doesn’t love a good Five-Headed Dragon??). 

 

For fans of the card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour is a dream come true. The game takes everything that has made the card game so popular for years, and faithfully puts it all together in one convenient handheld package. The 3-D summoning was a great feature never before experienced on a hand-held device, but that's not the only dual screened feature that was added! There's competition all over the place, however you'll have to use your duelist radar in order to be able to locate them, which requires you to drag a cursor around a city map with your stylus until the cursor starts to beep and flash red. This would have a more immersive effect if not for the fact that the choice of your potential opponents is limited by your current in-game experience level. In addition to the traditional duels, the game also incorporated a series of puzzle matches, where the player is presented with a 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. At the end of both puzzle matches and regular duels, you're rewarded with points that can be spent on booster packs at the local card shop in order to continue to build out and improve upon your deck throughout the game.

buy now, $17.99

7. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Dungeon Dice Monsters'

Like that of our previous title in the list, this game departs from the traditional Yu-Gi-Oh! Card game style of play and introduces some completely new elements. Originally introduced via ~3 episodes in the anime, Dungeon Dice Monsters incorporates many elements of the original game such as familiar monsters as well as having to deplete your enemy of a certain amount of starting points in order to win the game. The difference here is that we’re playing with Dice and Heart Points rather than Cards and Life Points. The goal is similar - deplete your opponent's heart points from 3 to 0 by attacking them directly. 

 

The premise is that you begin your turn by rolling a set of die, and if you are able to roll 2 of the same image then you’re able to summon a specific kind of monster on your side of the board, building out your paths in order to approach your opponent's side of the playing field. Once you’ve “summoned” some monsters, you have to build a route to your opponent in order to attack them and deplete their heart points to zero before they do so to you. It may not be the deepest or most complex game, but having so many familiar monsters to use in a completely new format was a great mix of nostalgia and new experiences all wrapped up into one!

buy now, $15

6. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards'

This game is amazing for the nostalgia factor of it all, if for nothing else. The game essentially takes you through the second arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime, that being the Battle City Tournament (which happens to be my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc of all time). 

 

The game allows you to take control of the main character of the game and play through the events as they unfold in the anime. You’ll run into all of your favorite characters from the show, from the prominent figures such as Seto Kaiba and Mai Valentine to more tertiary characters such as Rex Raptor, Mako Tsunami, and yes, of course even Marik Ishtar. The game gives you an extensive experience in what it would have been like if you were to have entered and competed in the tournament yourself! 

 

The gameplay is fun in that it allows you to walk back and forth from different distinct areas and even talk to and interact with all of the NPC’s that are scattered throughout the game, giving it more of an adventurous type feel than many other Yu-Gi-Oh games that have been released. There are some actual gameplay-related tweaks that have been made to the game as well that give it its own character in the series, such as the addition of the elemental system, which means that monsters with certain attributes will automatically destroy monsters with other, specific attributes regardless of the differential in attack/defense points. All in all, this game is a great way to relive one of the best storylines in the anime, with a few additional twists and turns along the way.

buy now, $9.99

5. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Of The Roses'

Released exclusively for Playstation 2, this installation of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Video game series is unlike that of any other! The game and gameplay is itself a reference to the 15th Century War of the Roses in both name and game setting; but the similarities don’t stop there. 

 

Arguably the most interesting storyline of any game (as it doesn't have anything to do with the manga/anime storylines), the story begins with the battle between the houses of Lancaster and York, allowing you, the duelist who was summoned from another time, to choose which house to support at the beginning of the game in order to tip the scale in one direction or the other. 

 

The gameplay itself is the main characteristic that separates Duelist Of The Roses from other Yu-Gi-Oh! Games, in that it basically plays like Dungeon Dice Monsters, however instead of using dice and heart-points, you’re using the actual cards, and life points similar to legacy games. Other defining characteristics are that you will have a Deck Master who will provide certain power ups and bonuses to you during a duel, having to navigate a labyrinth-like game board, and different “field power bonuses” that change depending on what kind of terrain you are playing on. All of these elements combine to provide a truly unique and immersive gameplay experience in the world of Duel Monsters!

buy now, $50

4. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy'

The #4 pick on here is from the second saga in the Yu-Gi-Oh series. Yu-Gi-Oh GX focuses on the journey of a new generation of duelists attending the Duel Academy. Kind of like Yu-Gi-Oh’s version of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. This 2006 Game Boy Advance title operates similarly to the majority of the other games from this era, you play a digital version of the card game against characters from the show. To advance, you must beat each character a certain amount of times. GX Duel Academy adds in some extra elements that further immerse you into the story, such as periodic tests to determine if you will advance up the ranks as a duelist. There are 3 dorms at the Duel Academy: Slifer Red, Ra Yellow, and Obelisk Blue (in order of most prestigious). Much like the Falsebound Kingdom, I have recently made another playthrough of this title and could not stop playing until I was at the top of the class

buy now, $32.99

3. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom'

The number 3 spot on this list goes to a classic that breaks the mold of the typical Yu-Gi-Oh game. Instead of a digital simulation of the card game, this real-time strategy/RPG takes the characters from the television series and gives you a whole new storyline to play through. 

 

While the plot of the game is reminiscent of one of the early story arcs of the series, it puts a new spin on the concept of the characters THEMSELVES being trapped in a video game. At the beginning of the game you choose between Yugi or Kaiba (then eventually Joey Wheeler) and then guide their respective armies of duel monsters through an epic crusade to defeat the emperor. While not a very complex game in terms of RPGs, this 2002 GameCube exclusive makes up for it with a rich storyline that you get to experience from 3 different points of view. It also adds a very Pokemon like random monster encounter element in some levels.

 

Having played this game as a child, I recently played through it again on my computer via emulator and couldn’t pull myself away. There is something magical about fusing 3 Blue-Eyes-White Dragons together and obliterating a squad of opposing monsters. The game puts you in the shoes of the main characters in a way I haven’t experienced anywhere else, for this reason it earns the #3 spot.

buy now, $50

2. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links'

This game burst onto the scene initially back in November of 2016 in a unique way; that being released as a free-to-play game on mobile devices. Konami saw the state of the world for what it was and quickly pivoted to make sure that it remained relevant in the market, as well as appealing to a younger demographic that's becoming more and more tech-savvy/reliant. Traditional ways of playing the game are becoming more and more outdated with considerations such as cost of entry to play in regards to buying all the cards you need, traveling to tournaments, and all the accessories needed as well (card sleeves, deck boxes, dice, etc). The dollar amounts can pile up quickly, and virtually being able to connect and play with friends at a moment's notice is invaluable in today’s day and age.

 

What I appreciated most about this game is that it made things extremely easy for new players to pick up and get involved, while also keeping enough of the traditional rules intact to satisfy experienced players. Duel Links is not only a great homage to the series but also a good starting point for the gamers who don't already know its mechanics. The game limited the field to 3 monster card zones and 3 spell/trap card zones, simplifying the game overall. If new players got interested enough they would then look to the full TCG to scratch the itch that Duel Links started, acting as a gateway into the wonderful world that is Yu-Gi-Oh! 

 

I think the biggest drawback to duel links is that at a certain point, after farming for tokens is a virtually unreliable way to build enough of a resource pool to continually be able to buy new cards in-game, players must start to buy virtual tokens with real money to be able to keep their decks relevant at high levels. The pay-to-win type of game formats can start to wither a player's excitement and interest in a game, and quickly, which is what I saw happen to a lot of the newer players after a relatively short amount of hours spent playing.

buy now, free to play

1. 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy Of The Duelist Link Evolution'

Coming in at number one on the list is Legacy Of The Duelist: Link Evolution. Not only is this the newest game released by Konami, but it’s arguably the game that most closely resembles playing the trading card game as you would with the actual cards, and with actual people. 

 

Released on August 20th, 2019, this title is a remaster of the 2015 game with all the DLC included, and can be played on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Legend of the Duelist lets you choose from a robust 9,000 card library as you relive epic battles from every Yu-Gi-Oh! series to date, up through the ARC-V series. Opening booster packs to build the best deck out of the cards you pull is the perfect simulation of actually playing the trading card game, which has been desperately missed after the local scenes have practically been brought to a halt due to the spread of the coronavirus world-wide in 2020. 

 

Konami’s choice to not include real-money purchases whatsoever within the game helps mitigate the cost-sink that has kept many away from the physical card game in the past as well (*chef’s kiss*). This was one of the biggest problems that I had in one of the games previously mentioned on this list, that being Duel Links. Collecting cards from any TCG series is both nostalgic and rewarding, but realistically not everyone can afford to participate in such a hobby. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution gives players a way to access over 9,000 cards by simply playing and earning them as they go along. 

 

There very well may never be a Yu-Gi-Oh game that is quite the same as simply playing with real cards (at least one that's developed and sold by Konami, which would kind of make sense seeing as that the card game is a massive revenue driver), but Legacy of the Duelist is the closest that we have ever gotten to the real thing so far, as is more than worth the time investment!

buy now, $32
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