The "Carddas Version" of Yu-Gi-Oh! was the first card game released based on the series, created by Bandai using the first chapters of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and the 1998 anime by Toei Animation as inspiration. It's worth noticing that in this early stage the rules of the card game were nearly non-existent, so pretty much every rule was created out of the blue.
For starters, all cards were yellow. All monsters were normal monsters and they each had one of the 13 rules printed on them, and there were additional types and several missing types. Also, equip cards were treated as a different type of cards from Spell cards.
There were a total of 13 rules, most of which make the card game quite different from its Manga counterpart (particularly the winning condition):
- Both players must use the same number of cards as their Decks.
- Draw 5 cards from your Deck to form your hand.
- Select 1 Monster Card from your hand and play it to start a Battle.
- To determine the result of the battle, compare the ATK of your attacking monster with the DEF of the attacked monster.
- If your monster's ATK is higher, your opponent's monster is destroyed.
- Even if you destroy the opponent's monster, if the DEF of your monster is lower than the ATK of your opponent's monster, your monster is also destroyed.
- When the battle ends, draw 1 card from your Deck and you can end your turn.
- Each turn will continue like this until both players' Decks are empty.
- Finally, each player counts the total Level Stars of all monsters that he/she destroyed. The player with the highest amount is declared the WINNER.
- If you have Spell, Trap or Equip Cards in your hand, you can put them in play face-down.
- You can activate your face-down Spell, Trap or Equip Cards at any time during a Battle.
- When the effect of a Spell, Trap or Equip Card is used, it is discarded.
- When a player's Deck is empty, the Duel will continue until the other player's Deck is empty as well.
The game never left Japan and was eventually overshadowed by the more deeply thought-out Konami Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game. Nowadays, it's impossible to play without using a Card Game emulator like Lackey CCG or YGOPro.
This game presents examples of:
- Adaptation Species Change: Several types present at the start of the Konami version didn't exist, and several cards had completely different typing even if their Konami type did exist. For example Zombies (cards like Skull Servant and Clown Zombie) were Fiends; Spellcasters, and possibly Fairies, were split up into 4 separate types, each ending with Magic; Aqua and Fish cards (like Jellyfish and Fiend Kraken respectively) were compacted into Sea Beast.
- Even cards that have a type that exists in both versions could end up with two separate types in both. Gaia the Fierce Knight is a Warrior-Type in the OCG/TCG, but is instead a Black Magic-type here. Gaia the Dragon Champion is a Dragon-type in the later game, and a Dragon Magic card here. Time Wizard is a Spell Card instead of a Monster, and Dragon Capture Card is a Monster instead of a Trap Card.
- Adaptational Badass: A lot of cards here have higher stats (either in attack, defense, or levels) than their manga (and OCG/TCG) counterparts.
- Black Mage: The Black Magic type.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Cards present here like King Beetle, Rock-Gun, and Dark Zorla were never remade for the OCG and the TCG. Several types too (see below).
- Collectible Card Game: More like a prototype of one.
- Colorful Theme Naming: Red Hecate, Violet Hecate, and Yellow Hecate.
- Composite Character: What would be Spellcaster and Fairy in Konami's version is represented here as Black Magic, White Magic, Illusion Magic, and Dragon Magic.
- Decomposite Character: Compared to the four types that Spellcasters and Fairy were, what would be Aqua and Fish in the Konami version were instead filed together under one type, Sea Beast (keep in mind that Sea Serpent still exists as a standalone type here). Given how intertwined Aqua, Fish, and Sea Serpent monster cards are one has to wonder if this games of idea of consolidating them into two (or even one) types wouldn't have been a better idea.
- Early Adaptation Weirdness: So much so compared to the Konami version. Not even counting the rules of both; Aqua, Fairy, Fish, Machine, Plant, Reptile, and Spellcaster don't exist as types, while the aforementioned five types do. Monsters present in the later game sometimes had slightly or completely different stats, levels, and abilities. There are also no Attributes. Also no monster went over level 8, but it's unclear if they intended that or they just didn't want to release any higher leveled monsters yet.
- Engrish: The English language Blue-Eyes White Dragon has, above its picture, the line "This Dragon is the most ultimate monster."
- Flavor Text: Every Monster has one, alongside a regular rule or a special rule, printed on the card.
- Joke Character: Tristan. Out of the eight Character Cards, he is the only one who doesn't have a level, and can't actually win. His Flavor Text lampshades this.
- Magic Knight: Not a type in and of itself, but several monsters which fall into White Magic (Judge Man), Black Magic (Gaia the Fierce Knight), and Dragon Magic (Gaia the Dragon Champion) types have weapons and decently high stats.
- Obvious Beta: The game has enormous holes in it to say the least.
- Ambiguous rules:
- The duel ends when both players deck-out: Anyone possessing Exodia and 35 other monsters can guarantee a win in one turn, as he would only have to tribute one monster per turn until he draws Exodia.
- No monsters in hand: It doesn't say that you lose when you can't summon monsters. Therefore, it is possible to have a single monster card (and a deck full of Spells, Traps or Equips). Quite useful with cards like "Spell-binding circle," which reduce enemy ATK to 0 (making it an easy to kill target). While having a level 1 monster, this makes a 1-hit strategy.
- No rules regarding how many copies of a single card you can have in your deck. The Yami Yugi card beats everything, so a deck of 40 such cards will automatically win unless the opponent has the 5 Exodia cards.
- Ambiguous cards: There are PLENTY of ambiguous cards that could be read in many ways.
- Cyber-shield requires one female-like creature to be equipped. Celtic Guardian is quite female-like. What gender are Blue Eyes White Dragons?
- Elegant Egoist doesn't say WHICH monster should be replicated, or how "replication" works.
- Ambiguous rules:
- Stone Wall: Gorgon has 3500 Defense, the most out of any Bandai card. At Level 6, it has a higher Defense than any OCG/TCG card of an equivalent level or rank.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Blue-Eyes White Dragon's 3-Body Connection can attack 8 times in one turn.
- White Mage: The White Magic type.