Somehow, a story about a young boy fighting for the Heart of the Cards made its way from manga, to anime, to a hit TCG, and over 50 video games across countless consoles. Whatever iteration of Yu-Gi-Oh! you fell in love with, the draw of this world and the fanbase it has created is undeniable. Once you’re a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan, you’re in it for life. For almost a decade, Konami has captivated fans with Yu-Gi-Oh! video games. Gaming is a unique was to get immersed in the series, and bring the Duel Monsters to life.
Fans of the video games know that with so many games, some of them are amazing. You will feel like part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! world when you play, and you will revisit the same games again and again even if the graphics are outdated and you have to break out batteries for your old Game Boy. Others, though, are sad and awful. They have bad graphics, boring storylines, easy AI, and no connection to the actual series. Some Yu-Gi-Oh! games are winners, and some lose the duel before it even begins.
Once a franchise gains so much popularity, companies know that games will succeed because of the Yu-Gi-Oh! name slapped on the box, and the games can lack quality and innovation. With so many Yu-Gi-Oh! games— it truly is a mixed deck. Here are the 8 best and 7 worst Yu-Gi-Oh! games released in the US, compiled so you can re-live the ups and downs of loving Yu-Gi-Oh!.
15 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour
Yu-Gi-Oh! fans were anticipating Nightmare Troubadour long before Konami announced and released the game. The results were excellent. Nightmare Troubadour had all the fun of the other great portable Yu-Gi-Oh! games, with the added bonus of an interactive touch screen that allowed for quick decision making. The game was a map-based duel journey through Battle City, and the dual screen allowed for the map and new 3D dual displays and Monster animations to display simultaneously. Playing through Battle City with the original Anime cast is a blast, especially because this game branched out to include Pegasus, the Virtual World, and the Paradox Brothers. Watch out though—Shadow Duels can land you in the Shadow Realm, recovering at your last save point. Fans remember Nightmare Troubadour fondly because it blazed trails for new Yu-Gi-Oh! games on the DS.
14 Worst: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards
The Sacred Cards had some good elements— the graphics in the Overworld were great and it was fun to explore familiar places from the series. Unfortunately, that’s about where the fun ends. The cards were changed and simplified to fit the game style, which took the fun out of dueling. The graphics in the duel scenes didn’t help—you could barely see the tiny cards. The RPG elements were an innovative idea, but poorly executed. Having to go back to your room to regain life points was a pain, and grinding to level up for better cards meant you were mostly playing with a handful of random cards. This ended up being a slow, short game with little payoff and no replay value, especially considering saving after completing the game is impossible, so you lose all your good cards from the last battle anyway.
13 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists Of The Roses
The Duelists of the Roses was a hit because it broke away from the primarily formulaic Yu-Gi-Oh! games. It is a duel-based game that follows the story of the Wars of Roses, but adapted to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Universe. You are the ‘Chosen One’ sent from the future, dueling with the adversarial families of the Yorks and the Lancasters. You duel your way through the war and win, and can choose which family to side with each time you play through. Overall, this is a fun game because it sets itself apart by creating an alternate universe based loosely on historic events. The new style of gameplay and dueling introduced in The Duelists of the Roses makes it definite hit within the scope of Yu-Gi-Oh! games, and the replay value is always there.
12 Worst: Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal World Duel Carnival
This game should not have been made. It adds absolutely nothing to the series. You are better off just playing Yu-Gi-Oh! with real cards. At least that way you could play with friends, because Zexal World Dual Carnival has no option for online or friend play, even though the technology was easily available and would have added a fun element to the game. Instead, you have a regular card game, that you play by yourself—just with bad graphics and no real goal. You start out with all the possible cards, with nothing to gain but a few card sleeves. Overall, there just isn’t a lot to this game, and it is a disappointing addition to the canon of Yu-Gi-Oh! games that are actually fun.
11 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2007
World Championship 2007 was the first World Championship game on the DS, and it did not disappoint. It took the franchise and added a fresh perspective. This game introduced Jaden Yuki, Yugi’s replacement as the head of the series, and it’s nice to have fresh faces in this game. This game also introduced Wi-Fi Dueling, which changed the game (literally). Being able to play online, track the leaderboards, and challenge your friends gave this game new depth and endless replay value. Even without the Wi-Fi gameplay, the game is exciting, and it beefed up the AI, making for an actual challenge. If only it was impossible for cheaters on the internet to play the system and disconnect, this would have been a nearly perfect Yu-Gi-Oh! game.
10 Worst: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
Duel Links is just OK. With card games taking over the App store, it doesn’t hold its own against more fleshed-out games like Hearthstone. Duel Links relies too much on fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! downloading blindly, without backing it up with fun gameplay. The AI matches you have to trudge through before you can actually play are torturously slow and easy. With so many players out there paying to win with countless in-app purchases, this game loses a lot of potential fun. This game is fun to play while waiting at the doctor's office, but not something you will find yourself sitting down to enjoy very often. A disappointment, considering that Yu-Gi-Oh! seems perfectly suited to a fun mobile duel-based game. With a little more meat (and maybe some less annoying voice acting) this could end up being a staple mobile game for Yu-Gi-Oh! fans.
9 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! Dungeon Dice Monsters
When you pick up an old copy of Dungeon Dice Monsters, it will feel like you are part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe. You are inside Duke Devlin’s dice game from the anime. This game is a welcome diversion from the formulaic Yu-Gi-Oh! games. It lacks cards, but for true fans, being able to play with the dice just like the game on TV is a lot of fun. Though gameplay risks feeling repetitive when you’re playing the same game against different players, moving through the game is still exciting and interesting. If you are a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh! and strategy games, this game is addictive and you will need to beat it to feel complete. Buying new dice, facing familiar opponents, and playing the dice will keep you coming back for more.
8 Worst: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generations
Sadly, Duel Generations is another hopeful Yu-Gi-Oh! mobile game that just didn’t work out. It was better than its predecessor, Duel Links, but not good enough to take up space on my limited phone storage. Phone games need to be addicting and regularly playable to stand up to the competition, and while Duel Generations has a great card library, it’s missing the spark that would make it a great game. If you’re not a die-hard Yu-Gi-Oh! fan, the draw for this game is nearly nothing. The mediocre gameplay, combined with actual development issues like card inaccuracies, makes this game painful to play after a while. With fans of the card game and YGO and DevPro clamoring for a legitimate mobile platform, Duel Generations missed the mark on a great opportunity.
7 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships 2010 Reverse Of Arcadia
This is definitely one of the best games in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Universe. Breaking into modern technology did Konami good, and this game proves it by being tons of unapologetic fun. Most of the World Championships series is great, but this one stands out. This game has an enormous card pool to play from, Wi-Fi, tournaments, and a customizable playable character. The different dueling options, including Tag Duels, tournaments, and single match play, makes for an interesting play all the way through. This game has everything the previous games had, but better! Konami is great about improving each World Championship game as they come along. With the ability to duel people worldwide and the excitement of playing through the detailed story mode, this game is one Yu-Gi-Oh! fans will not want to miss. This game holds up and is a great one to revisit and play again.
6 Worst: Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef Of Destruction
This sequel to Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards is somehow actually worse than its predecessor, earning it a buddy spot on this list. This game is infuriating, and the structure has fans questioning what Konami was thinking. In a misguided attempt to fix the easy gameplay and weak AI of The Sacred Cards, this game is nearly impossible. The AI is way too hard to beat, and the card prices are obnoxiously high compared to the pittance you win for each match. The game also relies on an elemental system that eliminates strategy. The Blue Eyes White Dragon you pine for can be beaten by a sweet little Kuribo. This system also sets up strategies you can use to best the AI in almost every match, which leads to more winning but zero fun. Hopefully, Konami finds a better balance for this game someday, because the potential is there.
5 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! 7 Trials To Glory: World Championship Tournament 2005
7 Trials To Glory is true to its name—this is probably the greatest of the Yu-Gi-Oh! games. You begin the game as a little NPC, with no knowledge of what greatness and challenge awaits you. You make your way through duels and battles. The Deck Recipe function makes deck-building and strategy more fun and brings gameplay to a new level. Buying new cards at Grandpa’s game shop and facing new battles makes you part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Universe. This game focuses on duel restrictions, which make gameplay more unexpected and exciting. Not being able to use Trap Cards or Spells keeps you on your toes. The real fun comes when you access the Shadow Realm, and you can buy all the epic restricted cards. You get to compete against your favorite characters from the Duel Monsters Universe, buy awesome cards, and win shiny trophies. It’s the perfect recipe for Yu-Gi-Oh! fun.
4 Worst: Yu-Gi-Oh! Falsebound Kingdom
Oh No! Yugi and his friends are stuck inside a virtual-reality video game! How original! Besides the stereotypical premise, this game has a whole list of negatives. It’s boring, ugly, badly-realized, and simply not fun to play. You get to choose to play as Yugi or Kaiba, and that determines your side in the civil war apparently raging in this virtual universe. The game itself is a simplistic, unorganized Franken-game of turn-based role-playing and real-time strategy, neither of which is fully integrated into the simplistic gameplay. There isn’t a lot of actual strategy that goes into the game, and the one-dimensional story doesn’t make up for it. It’s a slow, boring play that won’t quench your thirst for a Yu-Gi-Oh! game. Though immersing yourself in the world of the cards is tempting, you’re better off skipping this one.
3 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force
In classic Yu-Gi-Oh! fashion, Joey and Yugi are trapped in a cave, and there is only one way to escape—through the labyrinth. This time, it’s Jaden and Syrus, but the story is basically the same, they’re even battling the same creepy Paradox Brothers! What this means, of course, is that this game is full of tag-team duels. This is an awesome game that has tons of replay value, it never gets old. The Tag Force games are always fun, but this one has the added benefit of an intense story and great graphics. There are plenty of cards to play, and plenty of duels to test your deck. The AI isn’t the greatest, but with Yu-Gi-Oh! games we know that’s not much of a surprise. Otherwise, this is a great game that gives the GX games a good name.
2 Worst: Yu-Gi-Oh! Destiny Board Traveler
This is the absolute worst of the Yu-Gi-Oh games, and the fanbase is not shy about it. This is not a card game. In fact, this is barely Yu-Gi-Oh! except for the logo slapped on the box. It’s closer to a strange amalgamation of Monopoly, Mario Party, and Sonic Shuffle that’s struggling to survive. There is barely any gameplay— you could pretty much close your eyes and press A every few minutes — you would have an equal chance of winning. It's mostly up to the dice, and there is too much sitting around watching your opponents play. The graphics on the actual monsters are OK, but everything else looks like a14-year-oldd coded it in computer class. It’s a rough game all around. There’s no replay value at all (there’s not even one-play value). If you’re interested in watching your character stumble around a board for no reason, this is for you.
1 Best: Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories
This might not be the best game, but the intense wave of nostalgia it evokes completely makes up for any outdated gameplay. This was basically the beginning for the wealth of great (and not so great) Yu-Gi-Oh! games we have today. Looking back, it can seem annoying that it followed the rules of the anime rather than the rules of the actual TCG, but it didn’t phase most fans at the time because the game hadn’t reached the same popularity it has now. The game was jam-packed with duels, which was an impressive amount of gameplay for the Game Boy Color. It also came with a set of real cards, which is a tradition Yu-Gi-Oh! fans treasure. This is a fun game to replay to get back to your Yu-Gi-Oh! roots.