From Slay the Spire to Monster Train, to Trials of Fire, Loop Hero, and Dicey Dungeons, I’ve played a whole lot of deckbuilders over the last few years. While all five of these have roguelite elements, I’ve dabbled in more conventional card games as well – I played Hearthstone quite a bit back at launch, for example, and have tried everything from The Elder Scrolls: Legends to the standalone Gwent game. But my love of this genre goes back much further – around 17 years, to be exact. The reason I love deckbuilders so much is 100 percent because of the time I spent with Yu-Gi-Oh: The Sacred Cards for Game Boy Advance.
The Sacred Cards didn’t land in Europe until February 2004, meaning I was eight years old at launch.. While most people wanted to play as Yami Yugi or Joey Wheeler, I was always a Kaiba fan and thought Pegasus’ deck ripped. I was that prick who used to play Toon World in the schoolyard at lunchtime – even my own friends temporarily hated me for 20 minutes a day.
I’ve kept a close eye on Yu-Gi-Oh video games ever since. There’s actually a bar near where I live in Dublin called Yukioh that I like specifically because of its name, and because of the fact it does double sake and ginger beers for a fiver. Legacy of the Duelist Link Evolution came out for Switch in 2019 to almost unanimous critical acclaim, while 2007’s World Championship for DS was significantly more enjoyable than the anime running alongside it at that point. Nightmare Troubadour, also for DS, is a bit more polarizing, bearing that sort of Twilight Princess-esque emo atmosphere – but just like Twilight Princess, I reckon it’s great.
My favourite Yu-Gi-Oh game of all time, however, is Duel Links. I don’t play as much anymore, but there was a brief period where I was working full-time in retail while studying for my final year in college and would spend 20 minutes at a time hiding in the canteen to get a few duels in. I was working the late shift, meaning the only manager that was on just sort of sat in their office doing nothing – I could afford to go missing once every hour or two without causing too much of a ruckus.
The reason I’m writing about this at all is because preliminary details for the next Yu-Gi-Oh video game were recently unveiled online. Titled “Yu-Gi-Oh Rush Duel: Saikyou Battle Royale” – which is… yeah – the game is currently due to launch exclusively for Nintendo Switch in Japan. However, given that Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution was localized for the West after its Japanese release, it’s reasonable to assume that Rush Duel: Saikyou Battle Royale – please, Konami, stop making me type that – will get a similar treatment, especially if the publisher has a showcase lined up for summer.
What I’m getting at is that, like almost every other Yu-Gi-Oh video game, this upcoming title is probably going to be really good. They may be ostensibly a bit more juvenile, but I think that mostly has to do with 20-somethings’ vague recollections of the series. I rewatched season one last year and, like… people die. It’s a kids’ show that’s got the sentiments of a very not-for-kids show, and the manga is full-blown buckwild. There’s a lot more nuance to Yu-Gi-Oh than meets the eye, and while I’m not a diehard fan and haven’t seen a new episode since about 2005, you’d better believe I’ll defend the games until my dying day.
The sheer amount of cards this series has – combined with the multiple unique abilities and utilities they all have, which often differ depending on what other cards they’re played with – makes for a far more versatile meta than even the most popular deckbuilders around today. Honestly, I’m wholeheartedly convinced that if people were willing to give it a go, they’d absolutely love… I’m not typing the name again, okay? Devs, please just go back to something simple like “Legacy of the Duelist” instead of ramming battle royale into the title for the sake of it. Is this a battle royale? If so I take back everything I’ve said about Yu-Gi-Oh games being good. How the [insert bold word] does a Yu-Gi-Oh battle royale work, eh? Just give us Grandpa’s card shop and a load of people to beat up in Battle City. At level ten or 20 or whatever we unlock online play and can compete against people from all over the world – but it has to be one at a time, right? Come on. I don’t want to be asking “where we dropping?” while shuffling my cards – well, maybe if the traditional battle royale helicopters or planes or whatever are subbed out for Blue Eyes White Dragons. Okay, on second thought, I’m all in.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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