Interested in the best Yu-Gi-Oh games hey? Though Yu-Gi-Oh! is perhaps more known these days for its animé or tabletop card game, it initially began life as a manga, published in Shonen Jump magazine between 1996 and 2004.
The first animated series began in 1998 – since then, 1011 episodes have been broadcast, across a variety of different incarnations that periodically reboot the franchise. Additionally, there have been seven movies since the very first was released, way back in 1999.
And we haven’t even begun to look at other media, such as books or the unbelievably popular trading card game – which was reportedly named as the most popular trading card game in history by the Guinness Book of Records in 2011; as of January 2021, the tabletop phenomenon has sold an estimated 35 billion cards worldwide.
Which is insanely huge – and it makes you wonder where all this Yu-Gi-Oh! is being played. Are there underground Yu-Gi-Oh! Clubs where the first rule of Yu-Gi-Oh! is ‘Don’t talk about Yu-Gi-Oh!’? You’d think, with so many billions of cards out there globally, we’d be falling over kids and adults duelling on street corners the world over.
In any case, Yu-Gi-Oh! has clearly been a very big deal since its inception, and it shows no sign of slowing down. It’s been a huge property in video game form too: no less than 56 digital versions of the game, which often – but not always – simulate the tabletop card game and bring it into the digital realm.
There are some odd spin-offs in there, which you’ll now see as we take a look at the top 10 best Yu-Gi-Oh! games ever (according to Metacritic rankings at least!).
Table of Contents
Metacritic Rating: 72
Though popular with those players already familiar with the ins and outs of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Stairway to the Destined Duel was criticised for being unwelcoming to novices who were not yet au fait with building decks of duelling monsters, traps and spells – as well as the fact that it felt more like an expansion pack than a full game.
Konami were pumping out Yu-Gi-Oh! games to an audience hungry for them – and, no doubt, the exclusive physical cards packed with each video game were an enticing, almost irresistible selling point for the hardcore Yu-Gi-Oh! player too – but not all of them were successful from a critical standpoint.
Metacritic Rating: 73
Yu-Gi-Oh! video games have a habit of being very unwieldy with their titles, which can often feel as if they’re just a collection of random, cool sounding words smashed together to make a game name.
At least with the Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament games there’s at least a semblance of sense and purpose to all of these random words even for outsiders.
These games – which were annual releases on Nintendo handheld consoles from 2004-2011 – were the official tie-in titles for the real life Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships in their respective years.
The 2006 version was a GBA game that featured over 2,000 cards – at that time, the biggest selection of cards in a Yu-Gi-Oh! video game to date (but, as you’ll see when we move further down the list, this soon becomes a laughably small selection!).
It played an excellent game of Yu-Gi-Oh! on the move, using a tiny cartridge and without the need for any pesky human opponents (unless you wanted one, of course).
What more is there to say about this one?
Metacritic Rating: 73
What did I tell you about these names? I mean, to the outsider, a name like ‘5D’s Stardust Accelerator’ just sounds like nonsense, right?
I’m sure it makes perfect sense to Yu-Gi-Oh! fans, who are no doubt sharpening their card edges and preparing to threaten me with them while explaining exactly what those words mean in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! (it’s something to do with the new method of duelling in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s – Turbo Duels – right?.
Though marked down for its complexity and inaccessibility for non-fans, this 2009 DS game is ranked highly because it added a Story mode to the formula – and racing, in accordance with the ‘5D’s’ series additions to the lore and it just had to feature in our best Yu-Gi-Oh games list.
Metacritic Rating: 73
Yet another in the Metacritic ‘73’ rating club, 5D’s Wheelie Breakers is the biggest departure from the standard card battling formula on this list, as it’s actually a racing game in fancy Yu-GI-Oh! clothing.
Released on the Nintendo Wii in 2009, this fascinating kart racer-style game uses Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, which players build decks with – and these form the basis of the power ups available to them while racing.
It’s a clever twist on the Mario Kart-esque formula – which uses both the 5D’s racing concept and the deck building aspect of Yu-Gi-Oh! to create a unique experience.
Thought it may not be one of the best Nintendo Wii games around, it’s still a strong game in the franchise.
Metacritic Rating: 73
The first Yu-Gi-Oh! Game to appear on the DS, Nightmare Troubadour was a step up for the presentation of the series on a handheld, which had until then been stuck on the aging GBA hardware.
With great use made of the console’s dual screens and touch screen capabilities, Nightmare Troubadour’s card-battling monsters appeared in 3D while players dragged and dropped cards in place using the stylus on the lower screen.
Though only 1000 cards were represented, a Story mode added some variety to the opponents faced and gave a sense of progression to the card battling. This is one of the best Yu-Gi-Oh games for the DS, hands down.
Metacritic Rating: 75
Finally, the curse of the Metacritic is broken! Released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2015, this was the first Yu-Gi-Oh! title for eighth generation consoles. It also smartly brought together all of the different Yu-Gi-Oh! series to date, which at that time meant five different styles: Duel Monsters, GX, 5D’s, Zexal and Arc-V.
No matter which flavour of Yu-Gi-Oh! you preferred, it was represented in Legacy of the Duelist in some form.
Though deep and steeped in the lore of various different series, Legacy of the Duelist was also praised for being the most accessible Yu-Gi-Oh! title for newcomers for a long time – despite there being more than 6600 cards included.
Metacritic Rating: 76
Yep, another World Championship edition of the game finds its way onto this list, though this was the first World Championship entry to make its way to the DS after a successful annual run on GBA. This one brought online competition and downloadable cards to Nintendo handheld players for the
first time, along with a selection of 1600 cards (plus the addition of those aforementioned downloadable cards to increase the number available) to collect, compete and build with.
Metacritic Rating: 79
Time waits for no one – and neither does Yu-Gi-Oh! Despite there being a huge selection of more than 6600 cards in the previous Legacy of the Duelist game just four years before Link Evolution was released on the Switch, this new edition featured a mind-blowing 9000+ cards.
Additionally, it featured another Yu-Gi-Oh! series: the VR-focused VRAINS. This edition was also released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2020 (with the Xbox store listing for that edition of the game stating that it features over 10,000 cards!).
If your after one of the latest best Yu-Gi-Oh games, then this is the one to go for.
Metacritic Rating: 80
This iOS and Android title registered more than 100 million downloads on mobile as of October 2019, proving that the series hasn’t lost any of its lustre.
Duel Links earned praise and popularity for its presentation and accessibility – and it’s clearly been a huge hit with gamers eager to scratch their Yu-Gi-Oh! itch wherever they are.
Though it’s high on this list of highly ranked titles in the series, its status as a free-to-play mobile game means that there’s a lot of in-app purchases if you want to collect cards; it’s an unfortunate but necessary side effect of the business model, which is even more disappointing when you consider that games such as Legacy of the Duelist are filled with huge card collections that won’t break the bank.
Despite this, Duel Links reportedly has a reasonably fair and balanced in-game economy; certainly not as egregious as other mobile games that simply look to pump their players for more and more cash.
Players certainly aren’t complaining – in November 2020, an incredible milestone was reached: a massive 5 billion duels played in Duel Links overall!
Metacritic Rating: 81
What is the top of our best Yu-Gi-Oh games list? Well…
The very first Yu-Gi-Oh! game appeared on the PS1 in 1998; a Game Boy title followed soon after, in fact it was one of the best Gameboy Advance games of its time!
The following year, the Game Boy Color was treated to its first Yu-Gi-Oh! Title, but none of these made it out of Japan – the series had yet to explode in popularity on Western shores.
In fact, Yu-Gi-Oh! didn’t make it to the West in video game form until 2002 – and The Eternal Duelist Soul was the very first non-Game Boy Color handheld title in the series that was seen outside of Japan (spin-off Dungeon Dice Monsters aside).
For fans and critics alike at the time, it must have felt incredibly comprehensive and advanced as a simulation of the then relatively niche card game, which likely explains its position at the top of these rankings.
Naturally, from advances in presentation and sheer visual grunt to far more comprehensive cards and updated rulesets, later games in the series have outshone The Eternal Duelist Soul – but this one clearly made a big first impression on those players who experienced it at the time.
So there’s a look at the best Yu-Gi-Oh games that you can pick up for your favourite consoles. It seems many liked the older games, but who knows, perhaps there’s a new Yu-Gi-Oh game in the works?
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.