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Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Sacred Cards

by Ephraim225

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Original Thread: The Shadow Realm of Gaming - Let's Play Yu-Gi-Oh on the GBA!



I've never seen a franchise quite like Yu-Gi-Oh. It all started with one manga author's idea for games with stupidly high stakes, which turned into card games with stupidly high stakes during the Magic: The Gathering craze, after which said author desperately tried to move away from card games, but that didn't work out, seeing as you can't market anything else quite as well.

And then Konami got a hold of it.

The Sacred Cards and Reshef of Destruction are the seventh and eighth entries into Konami's Duel Monsters line of Yu-Gi-Oh video games. Typical of Konami anime-licensed video games, they are largely cash-ins. There are so many Yu-Gi-Oh games on the GBA alone that it's rare to find one worth your time. There are a couple of really good ones, of course, like Duelist of the Roses and Capsule Monster Coliseum for the PS2, and if you're looking for a simulation of the TCG, there's the Tag Force series for the PSP. However, there are also plenty of mediocre installments like Dungeon Dice Monsters and the infamously awful Forbidden Memories. And oh god, you don't even want to KNOW what they've done to the TCG itself. Or the show.

So where do Sacred Cards and Reshef stand? Well, they certainly have a lot of production value, with high-quality graphics and even voice acting, and if you're a fan of the show, you'll love the various nods and homages to lesser-known facts about the series. Sacred Cards even uses the original, Japanese card artwork for many of the cards, even in international releases.

However, these games do not follow the TCG's ruleset. They actually use an older, experimental ruleset from Dark Duel Stories for the GBC. There are a LOT of differences from the TCG, so you might be bashing your head on a wall trying to figure it out, but in my opinion, this ruleset isn't ALL bad. There's some appeal in what they tried to do here.

Thing is, the difficulty is highly unbalanced in both games. In Sacred Cards, the game is completely broken in your favor and you can blitz through it in about 4 hours, tops. This leads to the game not taking long at all to beat, and with no multiplayer or bonus bosses, Sacred Cards ends up being average by virtue of not offering a lot of playtime, even though what's there isn't outright bad. Fans took notice of that, and asked Konami to bump up the challenge a little for the sequel.


Reshef of Destruction is a complete farce. It's terrible to the point that I have to wonder if Konami wasn't playing some sadistic prank on the fanbase. Not only was it harder, there was a massive emphasis on grinding and the gameplay was slowed down to a crawl. This is not outright incompetence. EVERYTHING that happens in Reshef seems to be intentional. It was so bad that I decided to ROM hack the game just to prove that the changes they could have made to make the game less awful wouldn't have been hard to implement.

But that can wait, because I'm going to play both games, as well as go over the history of the Gameboy Duel Monsters series, because believe me, the early Yu-Gi-Oh games were fucking nuts. I know more about these games than I probably should, so it's only natural to document it all so Konami never lives it down.

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