So recently, I had been getting in the mood to start playing Yu-Gi-Oh! again. I used to play all the time, even won a local tournament, when I was in middle school.
The last time I really played Yu-Gi-Oh!, I played Tag Force 5 on the PSP, which simulated being in a wide open card game tournament fairly well, with some mini stories thrown in, for good measure.
I also played Over the Nexus, on NDS. This was my go to Yu-Gi-Oh! game, if I want to play a story based version of the card game. It’s great.
But with my itch to play again, I figured, why not play one of the sets on RetroAchievments?
I hadn’t played too many of the older Yu-Gi-Oh! games, and the few I did, I didn’t remember much about. So I headed over to the RA Discord, and asked. “Looking for recommendations of the best yu-gi-oh game with a set. I’m looking for the real card game, play style, not ps1 yu-gi-oh.”
I couldn’t get a clear answer, so I took it upon myself to try all of the games on GBA.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE This is not a review of the RA Sets. It is simply my thoughts and opinions about the games themselves.
A quick mention to the games I wasn’t focusing on
Because my main aim was to find a good GBA set to play, to play on a handheld.
If you want a weird, complicated, nearly no strategy, and different version of Yu-Gi-Oh!, go play Forbidden Memories on PS1. It can be good, in its own strange way.
The GBC game, Dark Duel Stories was fairly good for its time, and can be a decent game to play, but it’s limitations make it heavily over shadowed the two Pokemong TCG games on GBC. (Both have wonderful sets, on RetroAchievments.) I would recommend playing those, instead. It attempts to follow the real card game, but made a lot of changes, due to the limitations of the GBC. It has a neat card creator feature, though. You are are better off calling this Forbidden Memories Gaiden. Can still be fun, though.
I’m not really talking about the NDS games because there’s only one with a set so far, and my computer doesn’t play nice with the DS Emulators that support RetroAchievments. Nightmare Troubadour, which has a set, is a decent time for the first NDS Yu-Gi-Oh! Game. Pick this if you want the newest cards, and “best graphics”, currently available on RA. If we get sets for the 5D’s NDS games, go play those, if you can, they rock. Newer the better.
Then we get to GBA, the games I was really looking to play. RetroAchievments has a lot of GBA Yu-Gi-Oh! sets, and they all play like the real Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, minus two that currently don’t have sets. (Dungeon Dice Monsters can be fun, and Destiny Board Traveler is God awful.)
I decided to tackle these in the order of release, and came to two conclusions. Games that fit into Menu Based games, where you just pick an opponent from a menu, and play, and Adventure games, where you get to roam around the world, and challenge opponents, including generic NPC’s.
In release order.
The Eternal Duelist Soul
|Yu-Gi-Oh! The Eternal Duelist Soul||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game|
The first Yu-Gi-Oh! On GBA. It was the first Yu-Gi-Oh! game to attempt to follow the official rules of the card game, properly. Though some of the cards were not accurate to the real cards, it was a proper attempt, over Dark Duel Stories. You pick an opponent from the original cast, and duel. You earn one card per duel for winning. No other way to gain cards. It’s basically the GBC game, with a ton of upgrades, minus the unique card making feature the GBC game had.
While it made a lot of upgrades, and was the first proper Yu-Gi-Oh! game, with the improvements every game past this made, I would say it is a hard pass, unless you want the least amount of cards of any GBA game, and would like to stick to playing with the earliest types of strategies.
Stairway to the Destined Duel
|Yu-Gi-Oh! Worldwide Edition: Stairway to the Destined Duel||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game|
This is, just the above game, but sort of with a campaign. In duel, it is the exact same. Has a few more cards. Outside of battle, you have a world map, where you can talk to faceless, nameless, NPC’s, or pick an opponent. It is based off the the Battle City arc, and as such, you need to duel your opponents into submission, and swipe locator cards from your opponents to progress.
The main difference with this game is you don’t know who your opponent will be until you pick them off of the map.
If you like the somewhat quicker paced gameplay of the Menu Based games, and want the original cast, this the the best one.
World Championship 2004
|Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship Tournament 2004||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game|
This is just Eternal Duelist Souls, with a few more cards, and the menus outside the duels are a little different. Inside a duel, it’s the exact same, again. This one is stuck in a gross middle ground that makes its hard to recommend over any other game In this category. The fact this game out after Stairway to the Destined Duel, is disheartening, since it was heading is a good direction.
This is the last Menu Based game to feature the cast of the original series. Sad
|Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament 2006||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game|
This game leaves me sorely conflicted. It is still Menu Based, but takes a step back, with menus more like World Championship 2004. It is based off of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, but features none of the characters, at least as far as I played.
Instead, your opponents are monsters from cards. Basically you just pick the deck you will play against. It leaves you with no attachment to the game. It feels like they opponents were just made to prep you for playing the game in multiplayer, which would have been a decent idea, back when this first game out.
The reason I’m conflicted? It has the most cards of the Menu Based games, and you can actually buy card packs. No more winning single cards per duel. Best of all, they seem to be the real card packs, you could buy in stores over the years.
If you like the Menu Based games, and want the most cards, and the ability to buy cards, pick this one.
Adventure style games
These are where I believe the Yu-Gi-Oh! Games on GBA shine.
The Sacred Cards
|Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game, RPG|
This is a neat step up from Eternal Duelist Soul, the game that came out before this one. In this, you actually get to walk around Battle City, from the TV Show, and participate in the tournament!
You can duel generic NPC’s, adding much needed variety to the types of decks you can go up against. It also has a story, with a goal, being based off the the 2nd Season of the show. With you, as your own character, into the group of main characters.
It also does something I wish more games would do. Instead of having pictureless representations of the cards on the card table, it turns the cards on field into squares, with pictures of the cards, making it much easier to keep up with everything on the board.
This game isn’t without it’s faults though, and it’s got two big ones. First, you can’t buy cards at all. You can only earn a single new card, by winning a duel, and putting up your own card to give up, if you lose.
Second, is the one plaguing this, and Reshef of Darkness. Deck Capacity… You have a deck capacity in the game. AKA, a limit on the cards you can have in your deck. If you’ve played Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, you know exactly what this is. The better the card, the more of your deck capacity it eats up.
On a plus side, because of the way this game works, the deck capacity is the least offensive in this game, over the other Adventure game that has it. This is because you tend to earn deck Capacity faster than cards you want to stuff into your deck, so it doesn’t cause too many problems.
If you want to pretend you are in Battle City, and playing by it’s rules, only getting new cards by winning duels, this might just be the game for you.
Reshef of Destruction
|Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game, RPG|
This game is a direct sequel the The Sacred Cards, and is probably the most infamous Yu-gi-oh! game, that isn’t Destiny Board Traveler.
Why? Because this game is brutally hard. It is plain unfair, and there’s no amount of grinding that will help you. You quite often run into opponents that cheat, and have way better cards than you have access to, by the time you get to them, and they can spam an unlimited number of broken cards, like Regeki, whenever they want.
Otherwise, this game plays exactly like The Sacred Cards, including having card pictures on the field, with the added benefit of being able to earn money, and buy single cards (not packs of cards) from the shop.
If you want the hardest Yu-gi-oh! game, with a new story, not in the anime, this is the game for you.
7 Trials to Glory
|Yu-Gi-Oh! 7 Trials to Glory: World Championship Tournament 2005||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game, RPG|
Right here, we have contender number one for best Yu-Gi-Oh! game on the GBA. Take The Sacred Cards, and Reshif of Destruction, take out all of the garbage that plagued those games, and this is what you get.
Deck Capacity is gone, thank God. You can go to the card shop and buy card packs. FINALLY! You can build the decks you want, with very few limits. You get to Adventure around like the last two games, and it even has a story.
You still get to duel generic NPC’s, and there’s a lot more of them, and even more cards, meaning you have a lot of play value out of this.
The one thing this game loses, that hurts, is the cards no longer have pictures on them, when on the field, so it can be hard to keep up with everything on the field. I feel it is a good trade off, for all of the improvement we get.
This is also the last Yu-gi-oh! game on GBA to feature the original cast and setting.
If any of that sounds appealing to you, you’ll enjoy this game.
GX Duel Academy
|Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Duel Academy||Game Boy Advance||Strategy–Trading Card Game, RPG|
Finally, the second contender for best Yu-Gi-Oh! on GBA. This game goes all in on Yu-gi-oh! GX. It even has some nice features even the awesome PSP GX games don’t have.
You are a new student at the Duel Academy, and you feel like it. You participate in classes, depending on how good you do, you can move up from Slifer Red to Ra Yellow, and even Obelisk Blue, you can even drop out. The PSP games didn’t allow this cool feature.
The game’s Forbidden and Limited List even changes every year, which is an amazing feature, and can really help keep things fresher, longer.
You have free time, to spend however you like, in between going to classes.
It also has the returning ability to buy card packs, and it’s better than the last game. This game has the most cards out of all of the GBA games.
It’s not without it’s faults though, it gets rid of the ability to roam around, making it more Menu Based, with a world map, but it still feels more like and Adventure, because if the things you get to do. There are even little stories and events that happen, as you play, and depending on your class, and choices.
The other problem is, as far as I have played, you don’t really to play against generic NPC’s, limiting the opponent variety a bit, but it’s not too bad, because a lot of the school kids from the show, including less prominent ones, you can face off against.
This one is a good time, and can easily recommend it.
This is all of the games for the GBA, that use the real card rules.
What would I recommend?
If you like the main cast of the original series, and don’t mind less cards, play 7 Trials to Glory. It’s a darn good game, and worth you time.
If you prefer GX, want the most card variety, or like the idea of participating the card school, pick Duel Academy, instead, it’s just as great.
Both of these games are good in their own right, and you honestly can’t go wrong with either.