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Video Game / Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses

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"A card! A card! My kingdom for a card!"

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses is a Yu-Gi-Oh! video game for the PlayStation 2. It is a sequel to Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories and a prequel to Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom.

The game centers on the player character (never named) being pulled through time to arrive at Stonehenge circa the mid 1400s, during the War of the Roses. Henry Tudor, who prefers his nickname "Yugi", has sent his priest Simon McMooran to Stonehenge to summon the "Rose Duelist", who is prophesied to be The Chosen One to turn the tide of war against the enemy Yorkists. However, Rose Crusader Seto Rosenkreuz has also arrived and offers the player to join the Yorkists and fight Yugi and the Lancastrians on their side. Both sides task the player to infiltrate the enemy's territory and duel their elite commanders to recover the "Rose Cards" from the other side. Each side has 8, and together the cards are said to unlock great power.

Gameplay is different from most Yu-Gi-Oh! games. Players control a Deck Leader on a large tiled board, and can only play one card a turn on a square adjacent to their Deck Leader. Once in play their cards, be they Monster, Magic or Trap, can move around the board freely until an opponent's card moves against them, revealing the Monster or activating the Magic or Trap effect.

The tiled board can be terraformed with Field Cards, with appropriate power boosts given for monsters battling on them. Players move their cards around the board, attacking opposing monsters or attacking the opposing Deck Leader directly, to deplete the opponent's Life Points. Otherwise the usual Early-Installment Weirdness of the early Yu-Gi-Oh! video games, particularly freely fusing cards into new ones and using power-up cards on monsters they shouldn't affect, is in play.

This game provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: On the Yorkist side, Seto is much less of a villain in this game than he was in Forbidden Memories, or even in the regular canon. Subverted if you're on Yugi's team, where he's a manipulative villain again.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Due to limited screen time, Henry Tudor (Yugi) comes off as much more of a jerk, especially in the Lancastrian ending where he takes the credit for the player character's accomplishments once they head back to their own era. Subverted if you're on Seto's team, as he's a Graceful Loser who nonetheless vows to win the war.
    • Ishizu (known here as "Ishtar") is on the side of the Yorkists.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: While most Yu-Gi-Oh! games in the pre-DS era were rife with this anyway, Pegasus — already a frequent offender where this trope is concerned — was likely intentional given the powers of his Millennium Eye.
    • For starters, Pegasus is one of the few CPU opponents who doesn't regularly fall for the player's traps and bluffs, carefully calculating terrain and card effects before making his move. Most others will pretend not to know, and walk right into your facedowns.
    • He is very good at abusing this knowledge, and has cards in the deck designed to help him do so. If your strongest monster is facedown, and near your Deck Leader? He knows it, and will play Brain Control to take it over and attack you if the card is in his hand. Not the strongest, but still powerful? Change of Heart instead if he has it. He can make you kill your own monster too with that card, again using facedowns.
    • As a player, you can look at your opponent's Graveyard. You can use this to find out what facedown powerups used were, and even to identify facedown fusion monsters, because you can see what the materials were and check a fusion guide. But only Pegasus can identify facedown non-fusion monsters 100% accurately.
  • Alternate History: As the summary above should hint.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Aside from some of the European historical figures taking on Japanese names, things like machines and cartoons didn't exist during the Wars of the Roses.
    • Rex Raptor appears in the game, along with his dinosaur cards. Dinosaurs were not identified and named as such until the mid-19th century.
    • As noted below, Bandit Keith wears the Union Jack instead of the American flag to match the change in settings. The Union Flag's present design didn't exist until 1801, with the earlier flag of Great Britain (also known as the Union Jack) only first coming into existence in 1606 — long after the War of the Roses.
  • And You Were There: Everyone in the game is a pre-incarnation of someone from the main Yu-Gi-Oh! series, with the exception of DarkNite's brother.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Both sides of the story reveal differing details about the plot, particularly concerning Seto and the Rose Cards. Because of the Perspective Flip, Seto is actually a pretty noble guy (though something of an Anti-Hero) if you side with the Yorkists, as opposed to a straight-up villain seeking the power of Manawyddan fab Llyr if you side with the Lancastrians. He even apologizes for accidentally unsealing the entity using the Great Summoning of the Roses.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Permanent counter cards Mirror Wall and Goblin Fan will be completely ignored by CPU opponents, which frequently leads to them killing themselves, battle effects like Aqua Dragon's field-changing effect tend to be ignored, and the game's A.I. tends to ignore monsters that are far from the frontline, even if they have dangerous field-wide effects, such as Great Moth or Binding Chain. The A.I. also has a curious aversion to Insect Imitation, and will never use it.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Rituals. Some of the coolest and most iconic monsters in the game, commonly possessing high stats or unique abilities, but they take, at minimum, four cards to summon, and most of the stronger ones require powerful cards themselves. Magician of Black Chaos is particularly poor, as not only does it have no effects, but one of its required monsters (Dark Magician) has only 300 less ATK than it.
  • Big Bad: Richard Slysheen of York. Richard's Historical Villain Upgrade treatment is played up a bit more than usual here, his role assumed by the utterly vile Heishin.
  • Boss Game: Just like its predecessor, this is what the entire game basically is.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • In the Japanese version, Slysheen's corpse is seen instead of just his crown, and more corpses are shown as Yugi is being crowned king. They're cropped out in other versions.
    • Any card with a gun gets censored, usually by changing its colors to green and pink. Most of them aren't even realistic guns to begin with, such as Barrel Rock's shoulder cannons or Cyber Commander's missile launcher. Also, just like the real game and the anime, Barrel Dragon had its revolvers turned into laser cannons... but its attack animation is still what is unmistakably Russian Roulette. It's particularly strange when compared to the Immortals, which have some fairly grotesque imagery fully intact.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Completing both sides of the game's storyline lets you duel all opponents on one save file... but you've beaten the game and dialogue doesn't appear, so there's no point.
  • Call-Back: Manawyddan fab Llyr references the awakening and sealing of NiteMare at the end of the Yorkist campaign. His battle themes are even remasters of two themes from that game (namely the High Mages theme and NiteMare's theme).
  • Cheat Code: Pressing R3 in the Deck menu allows you to bring up a password menu, where you can input a code to obtain cards for use in your collection. Unlike the preceding game, entering a password gives you the corresponding card immediately, but a given password can only be used once per save file and unless you have a guide you can only discover them by beating the game, which reveals one random password. Not every card has a password either, mainly cards that cannot be obtained through normal gameplay like Fusion-only monsters or Destiny Draw cards.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Red roses for Yugi and the Lancastrians, white roses for Seto and the Yorkists.
  • Composite Character: Labyrinth Ruler is a stand-in for both Paradox Brothers.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: A number of opponents in the storyline have cards in their decks that are either inaccessible to the player or can only be obtained during a Destiny Draw. The final boss in both storylines has such a card as its Deck Leader.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: The Raise Body Heat card. The description says it powers up Dragons and Reptiles. It does not. It actually powers up Dinosaurs and Reptiles. Similarly, Malevolent Nuzzler says it powers up female Fiends. It actually powers up females OR Fiends. These may simply be translation problems. Each monster has a list of cards they get powered up by, so it's best to reference these lists just to be sure.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Manawyddan fab Llyr is unsealed in the Yorkists' campaign, he heavily implies that he's the brother of DarkNite/Nitemare. And he's plenty unhappy about what happened to that guy.
      Manawyddan fab Llyr: First you humans awakened my brother from the sands of Egypt and sealed him away again!
    • The end of the Lancastrian campaign has a message from Forbidden Memories' Priest Seto, who tells his descendants to keep seeking the Card Guardian, implying that Manawyddan fab Llyr is the wrong one.
  • Crack Fic: What if the Wars of the Roses were fought using the Yu-Gi-Oh! game with characters from the anime portraying the historical figures involved? You'd have this game.
  • Crack Pairing: invoked The developers may or may not have realized that by association with historical names, Pegasus is implied to be married to Mai.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Weevil Underwood, one of your early opponents seemingly duels like a novice who keeps enacting failed fusions, but his real objective in doing so is to quickly discard any card he doesn't need and get quicker access to Cocoon of Evolution so he can equip it to Petit Moth, transforming it into Larva of Moth (DEF 2000). If you drag the match for too long, it will gradually transform and finally becomes Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth (ATK 3500). If this occurs in your first duel against Weevil, your choice is to either surrender or face a soundly beatings, since your starting deck is too weak to deal with PUGM and you haven't got a chance to grind for better cards from tougher opponents.
  • Deal with the Devil: According to the Lancastrian side of the story, Seto's ancestors made a pact with a Card Guardian for wealth and power. Seto's hope is that the Guardian sealed by the Rose Cards is the same being so he can cash in on that pact.
  • Decomposite Character: Shimon Muran and Sugoroku are separate characters in this game (Simon Mcmooran and Jasper Tudor respectively) due to the game being released before Shimon Muran appeared in the manga and was revealed to be the ancient Egyptian incarnation of Sugoruku.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Destiny Draw mechanic allows a player, once per duel, to topdeck exactly the card they need to get out of what might be an otherwise Unwinnable situation. Exaggerated in that the card in question need not even be one in the player's deck, and in fact several cards can only be found this way. Both human players and computer opponents can benefit from this, although the odds of it happening depend on the rank of the Deck Leader.
  • Dirty Coward: Bonz and Bakura use very low Deck Costs to force you to use weaker monsters. If you lose to Bakura, he lampshades it and asks if you think him a coward.
  • Discard and Draw: The Reincarnation feature in the Deck Edit mode becomes available after every 5 duels. It allows you to trade in a single card for three cards of a similar Deck Cost. This is the only way to obtain certain cards such as Mystical Sand.
  • The Dragon: Seto to Slysheen.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Seto has little interest in winning the war and escapes once Yugi is crowned king.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Seto's only interest in gathering the Rose Cards to perform the Great Summoning. If you're fighting for the Lancastrians, this additionally means unsealing Manawydan fab Llyr — intentionally.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In the OCG, there's an Insect-type support card named "Hatching." In this game, its effect was changed to be based around turning "egg" monsters, such as Ryu-Ran and Wing Egg Elf, into new monsters. In the TCG, the card's name was changed to "Insect Imitation," which this game followed suit on... despite the fact that this version has nothing to do with insects or imitation.
  • Early-Bird Boss:
    • Rex Raptor is fought on the Wasteland terrain, which increases his monsters' strength by 500 points. At this point in the game, the only other opponent you'd be able to defeat would be Weevil, whose forest creatures are weakened by Wasteland terrain. If you start with Fairy King Truesdale, whose deck is almost all insects and plants, your only hope is judicious use of the Forest Magic Card and Acid Trap Hole. On later tries, Rex isn't nearly as bad when you have more variety in monsters.
    • Tea can be surprisingly effective, as she has a massive pile of power-up cards to compensate for her weak monsters. If she gets lucky, she can easily call out 3000-ATK monsters.
    • Weevil Underwood has "Petit Moth" and "Cocoon of Evolution" in this game as he does in canon storyline. There is a very rare occurence of him getting lucky and having both cards on his first turn, which he will use to make Larva of Moth. With 2000 DEF and Forest terrain power-up favoring Weevil, you will have a hard time trying to defeat it before it transform into Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth (ATK 3500).
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A number of cards showed up here first before they made their way to the card game proper. These include all the starting Deck Leaders, all the Immortals, Kinetic Soldier, Arsenal Bug, Woodland Sprite, and Creature Swap. The artwork of After the Struggle shows up in the Japanese version as well.
  • Early Game Hell: Both sides the player goes down will lead to them struggling desperately to defeat the first few opponents, with progression becoming much smoother around the time Mai on the Yorkist side and Keith on the Lancastrian side are defeated.
  • Enemy Mine: Yami Bakura is on the side of the Lancastrians as Jack Cade, the same man responsible for leading a revolt against Henry VI, Yugi's father.
  • Flower Motifs: As befitting the historical event that serves as this game's backdrop, each side has their own heraldic emblem fashioned after a rose: the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York.
  • Graceful Loser:
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Manawyddan fab Llyr is the final boss, and Seto's goals in both campaigns revolve around unsealing him.
  • Have a Nice Death: Losing to an opponent in Story Mode will have them comment on your defeat.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Pegasus does this in the Yorkist storyline.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Seto pretends to bow out gracefully after you defeat him.
    Seto: Well done, Duelist... I may have lost, but my heart sings with the joy of having faced you in battle. T'was a duel to be remembered. I take great pride in the fact that I fall by your hand... And if you believe that, I'll sell you some swampland in the outer reaches of the realm!
  • Infinity +1 Element: The Immortal cards can only be found by going to certain squares on the map and searching. Though they don't get field bonuses, they're all immune to Crush terrain and create it upon death, which makes them dangerous to attack. Also, uniquely, their counterparts in the actual game usually have a claustrophobic close-up for their picture (for instance, the picture of Souleater is of a tiny fishlike creature, with the card not showing that it's contained in a fishbowl as part of a horrifying spider-mech), so if you wanted to see what they looked like, you had to play this game.
  • Joke Character: T. Tristan Grey. The strongest monster he can easily summon is the 2000-ATK Patrician of Darkness (his strongest is Chakra, but he will never, ever get it out), he has all of two Spells, which have random effects, and his monsters are a jumble with no unifying type or strategy and weak abilities. His A.I.'s strategy (when it remembers it) is to move cards into rows where they have bonuses and then patrol sideways along it, but this spreads him thin and takes way too long to set up. And to top it off, most of his monsters have "balanced" stats, meaning they cost way more than they should. This makes his Deck Cost one of the highest in the game, on par with the endgame opponents, meaning you can play all your strongest cards against him.
  • Magikarp Power: Leveling up a monster card's rank unlocks special abilities when that card is made your Deck Leader. Low-level monsters are harder to rank up, but often get additional abilities to compensate for it.
  • Master of None:
    • The game wants you to avoid this as much as possible. Monsters with good ATK and DEF have much higher costs than monsters that have just one or the other.
    • Yugi is an interesting example; he actually does put a focus on Spellcasters and Warriors, but the field surrounding him is filled with seemingly random terrain that does more harm to him than good and can result in him having no real strong point aside from his naturally strong monsters.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: A fair amount of visual assets and rules are reused from the game immediately preceding this one, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the Lancastrian story, your duel with Seto is what unseals Manawydan fab Llyr, as all it took was having all 16 Rose Cards present during a great duel — nothing said Seto had to have the cards with him for it to work.
  • Old Save Bonus: With a Forbidden Memories memory card file, several Duel Masters are unlocked as opponents, and inputting passwords given at the end of Forbidden Memories in Duelists of the Roses gives you rare cards.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Aside from Pegasus, Seto and Slysheen, none of the Yorkists have real world names associated with them, going by their usual names or titles evocative of their real names/deck types (ex. Bonz is Necromancer, PaniK is Darkness Ruler).
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Need your Deck Leader to rank up? Rex Raptor. His inflexible strategies and the excess of Labyrinth field on his side make it incredibly easy to trap him. Put one strong monster next to his Deck Leader and one strong monster a space away, and he won't have anything capable of beating them, so he'll just end his turn. Every turn your Deck Leader spends out on the field gives it some XP, so after 100 turns, the Leader should rank up.
    • You can actually use this strategy on any duelist to achieve the same effect. Case in point the equally stupid Tristan is exceptionally easy to pin into the corner of the map and begin grinding, thanks to his strongest monster not even being in the 2000s range.
  • Physical God: Implied with the name of Manawyddan fab Llyr.
  • Reality Warper: Downplayed with the final boss. The center of the Stonehenge arena during the duel with Seto has the standard terrain type, but during the final battle the terrain changes to either pure darkness or the viral Crush terrain.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Invoked in gameplay. By joining Kaiba's side, you can change history and defeat Yugi's army. It helps that his argument is very convincing.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Manawyddan fab Llyr.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The usage of real historical names, mostly in proper context (Tea taking the place of Henry Tudor's wife Elizabeth of York), show that someone on the development team had a history textbook handy. For instance, Pegasus betrays Richard to aid Yugi when he attacks England, and Thomas Stanley was a secret supporter of Henry Tudor whose treachery to Richard was discovered during the Battle of Bosworth Field.
    • Christian Rosenkreuz has nothing to do with the Wars of the Roses or Richard III, and according to legends lived 50+ years before the Wars of the Roses. However, as the Fridge page for the game goes into detail on, the symbolism behind the Order of the Rose Cross Rosenkreuz founded, Seto's motives in this game, and the acknowledgment that this is Alternate History, actually make Rosenkreuz's presence surprisingly appropriate.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The classy Lancastrian battle music sounds out of place when dueling Joey and Tristan.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The game's title has a habit of being marginally misspelled elsewhere, usually by omitting the "The" (i.e "Duelists of the Roses"), using a singular noun (i.e. "The Duelist of the Roses"), or a combination of the two.
  • Surprisingly Creepy Moment: A lot of the Immortals have the sort of character designs that make you wonder how they ever passed muster in a game that censored cannons. Rigras Leever's Vagina Dentata face, Jowls of Dark Demise's rotting dragon head that turns out to be carrying the Thing, Timeater's nails sticking from its eyes...
  • Truer to the Text: Many of the cards that are vanillas in the card game are given abilities that approximate what they could do in Duelist Kingdom, including Great Moth's attack drain, Curse of Dragon burning down forests, Flame Swordsman killing dinosaurs, and Swordstalker eating souls. Field effects in this game are also far, far more relevant than the early Field Spells they're based on, similar to how powerful they were in Duelist Kingdom.
  • The Unfought: Despite summoning you to the era and showing you how to play, Simon Mc Mooran cannot be dueled against in either side of the story.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: The premise of this game is essentially a truncated retelling of the War of the Roses spiced up with ancient Egyptian card game voodoo, with the cast of Forbidden Memories standing in for real historical figures.
  • Villain Has a Point: Seto's argument for why you should join the Yorkists is a pretty good one. The Lancastrians were losing the war badly enough that they needed to summon you, so they really aren't in much of a position to gather the Rose Cards and send you back to your time. What's more, he offers to let you decide your own fate, while Simon is convinced you'll join his side without much coercion.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Keith, as always, but in the absence of America, he wears a Union Jack on his head. Which didn't exist then either, but then again, neither did slot machines or dragons with revolvers for heads.
  • Where It All Began: The player returns to Stonehenge for the final battle in both storylines.
  • Worthy Opponent: Seto sees you as one if you join the Lancastrians, even respecting your decision to join the other side despite his disappointment. In the Yorkist campaign, this is dropped (since you're allied with him), but Seto rewards the player with a pendant as thanks for their efforts, telling them to show it to his descendants in their time and pledging his family's loyalty to the powerful Rose Duelist.
  • Xanatos Gambit: In the Lancaster storyline, when you beat the Rose Crusaders and Richard to gather the seven White Rose Cards, Seto waits for you at Stonehenge. He needs all sixteen cards there to unleash Manawyddan fab Llyr, but nothing says he has to be in physical possession of them all, so it didn't matter to him which side gathered all the cards. For that matter, it doesn't matter who wins the duel, as long as it happens.