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Video Game / Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards

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Yu-Gi-Oh: The Sacred Cards is a Game Boy Advance video game made by Konami based on the Battle City arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh manga and anime. The plot itself is more or less a Self-Insert Fic of the Battle City arc, with the player character replacing Yugi as the main protagonist. Yugi himself does appear in the game, albeit with a much smaller role.

The game uses unique rules only vaguely similar to the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG, implementing the early manga and anime's field power bonuses and unique monster effects. The game runs off the basic rule-set used in Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories, with most of the quirks in between like monsters behaving very differently from the real-life card game and an Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors system that bypasses the stats of battling monsters.

The game also has a deck capacity limit in order to keep players from adding a bunch of game-breaking monsters to their deck and breezing through the entire game, so grinding will be required at certain points throughout the game. The game got a direct sequel in Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, which is much, much more difficult.

This game provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: You get Obelisk the Tormentor shortly before the finals and Slifer the Sky Dragon immediately before the Final Boss.
  • Adapted Out: Duke Devlin and Serenity aren't in the game, despite their roles in the story arc it's based on.
  • Ascended Extra: Bandit Keith. While in the anime he was fought and ran off before Battle City even started (and in the original manga, he was killed by Pegasus), here he's a recurring late game boss, and has actual reasons to work for Marik.
  • Alternate Continuity: To Seasons 2 and 3 of the anime. Its sequel, Reshef, is an alternate Season 4.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Egyptian God Cards. Once they're on the field, you have essentially won, but once you're doing well enough to have enough tributes to summon them, you could probably have won without them.
    • Ritual Monsters in this game. You need a certain monster, two other monsters, and the appropriate spell card. That's four cards, two of which have to be played together. If you get them out, the balance quickly shifts into your favor since Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors can't kill a Ritual monster as they are all Divine-class and most of them have a lot of attack points.
  • Big Bad: Marik, just like in the manga/anime.
  • Bonus Boss: Going to the aquarium at a certain time will let you see and duel Jean-Claude Magnum.
  • Boring Yet Practical:
    • The weaker Tribute monsters for much of the game, since they may only have 1800 ATK for one Tribute, but your normal monsters at best have 900.
    • Doron. You start off with one, and it has a low deck capacity cost, and an ATK of 900. More importantly, it has the ability to duplicate itself when played, which is really useful for tribute summons. Later, you can win a Revival Jam, which has the exact same attributes as Doron, but has 600 more ATK at the cost of a bit higher deck capacity limit.
    • The Egyptian God Cards have 0 Deck Cost so anyone at any point of the game can use them. Running them in your Deck also means you have more available Deck Capacity to accommodate a stronger card. Other 0-cost cards exist but Infinite Dismissal and the God Cards are usually the ones that see regular play.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Interestingly averted in the first release of the game - the game didn't replace some of the cards with censored artworks, so the original artwork for cards like Monster Reborn, Exodia and his limbs, and Spellbinding Circle could be seen. The two-in-one game cartridge which bundled this game with its sequel fixed it.
    • Also averted in that elements that would get censored in the dub version of the anime are left untouched here. Instead of using Dark Energy Discs that will send the loser to the Shadow Realm, Arkana's use of buzzsaws that will cut off the loser's feet are presented in full force here, with him even saying the loser will be chopped up.
    • In a straight example, the casino's name was changed to "Building."
  • Break the Haughty: Throughout the game, Mokuba comes off as a bratty, unsympathetic jerk who idolizes his brother and mocks you as being seemingly weaker than him. But when Marik beats his brother in a duel and takes his soul, Mokuba is left horrified and shaken. He later begs you to beat Marik for the sake of his brother.
  • Broad Strokes: The game is largely anime-based, but Marik uses the manga's poison capsule instead of the anime's crate to force Yugi and Joey to duel.
  • But Thou Must!: In the ending, you have to turn all three Egyptian God Cards over to Ishizu, never getting the chance to use Ra even once.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Yugi. A painful example since the story still revolves around Marik seeking the God Cards and destroying Dark Yugi, yet you're the one who faces all the Ghouls/Rare Hunters and Yugi is basically not in the game until the finals begin.
    • Joey, too, since you defeat all of the players that he dueled in the manga/anime.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Strings' deck has numerous monsters summon other monsters into play, and some that summon a copy of themselves.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: As stated, this game uses it with monster types. Certain types can kill other types regardless of ATK. The only exception is Divine, which isn't weak to any other element, and is usually limited to ritual monsters and the Egyptian Gods. There are two type "triangles" that go as follows:
    • Pyro > Forest > Wind > Earth > Thunder > Aqua > Pyro
    • Shadow > Light > Fiend > Dreams > Shadow.
  • Event Flag: These crop up in-story, signified by a chime.
  • Filler Villain: Bandit Keith, who wasn't in the Battle City storyline and merely stalls the player in the game. He gets a larger role in the sequel.
  • For Want of a Nail: With the player character taking over a bulk of the main plot, certain events end up playing out differently than they did in the manga and anime. Most notably...
    • The death-duel between the mind-controlled Joey and Yugi has Yugi outright losing, forcing the player to jump in and save him before dueling Joey themselves.
    • Joey ends up in Mai's shoes during the tournament finals, while Mai duels Kaiba and loses, but is otherwise fine. Kaiba ends up joining Joey shortly after when he duels Yami Marik in the finals, since the player duels the Pharaoh in the finals instead.
    • Kaiba doesn't get Obelisk, and instead the player character gets it for beating him in a duel. This further leads to the player character willingly giving the God cards to Ishizu in the end, since Kaiba can't pull a Screw Destiny to duel her for them.
  • Full-Name Basis: Most of the characters are frequently referred to by their full names.
  • Guide Dang It!: To duel Arkana, you're required to talk to a generic NPC on a specific screen in the clock tower square.
  • Infinity +1 Element: Divine isn't weak to any element, and is usually only found on ritual cards or the Egyptian Gods.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Most monsters that only require one tribute to summon. They usually don't have any game breaking ATK or all that flashy, but are much, ''much'' easier to get on the field.
    • Elemental wise, there's Shadow. It's weak to Dream, but Dream elemental monsters are so rare that it's possible to go the entire game without seeing one, which means you usually don't have to worry about the Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors with Shadow monsters.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rex Raptor, if you choose to befriend him.
  • Level Scaling: Inverted. If your duelist level is lower than your opponent's, you'll have a much harder time getting your better cards, with them usually being near the end of your deck. Meanwhile, if it's higher, you'll get your best cards as soon as the duel starts. It's actually a popular self imposed challenge to do a Low-Level Run of the game, as this mechanic requires you to be far more strategic and rely on trap and magic cards more.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: There appears to be a mechanic like this in the game, where the higher your dueling level is in comparison to your opponent, the better the cards are you generally tend to draw. The lower your level is in comparison, the harder it is for you to draw what you need to win.
  • Money for Nothing: You'll earn thousands of Domino from all story important duels, and even the most powerful cards rarely cost more than a thousand bucks. This results in gathering large pools of money without having many cards worth spending it on, especially considering you'll be sticking to one kind of deck for the majority of the game. The Final Boss even grants you half a million Domino when you win, but at that point you aren't allowed to do anything but end the game, so it's essentially a Cosmetic Award.
  • NPC Roadblock: Many areas will be blocked off by KC guards or Ghouls until you have passed a certain point in the story. Most notable is the Art Museum, the outside of which is accessible at the start of the game, but which is blocked off until shortly before the finals.
  • Level Grinding: The easiest way to get your level up quickly in the final levels is to stack your deck with Shadow and Fiend monsters when it comes time to duel Ishizu, curbstomp her Light and Dream monsters for 30 deck points and a rare card, then lose to Kaiba on purpose. When you return to the museum you have to start over with Ishizu again, giving you 30 deck points each time. This method was notably Nerfed to the point it's unusable in Reshef of Destruction.
  • Scare Chord: Losing to a Ghoul gives a different, scarier game over tune.
  • Self-Insert Fic: The easiest way to sum up the plot is that the player character combines the roles Yugi and Joey played in the manga/anime during the Battle City Tournament arc, with Yugi and Joey themselves basically reduced to supporting characters.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Bonz, who was killed by Yami Bakura in the manga and anime, survives this game and is fine in its sequel.
  • The Unchosen One: The main character has nothing to do with Marik's plans. The Ghouls aren't targeting you at first, they're targeting everyone in the tournament. Marik is just annoyed that you keep winning. Subverted when Ishizu makes Kaiba and you compete for Obelisk before the finals instead of giving it to him before the tournament begins - and you win it.
  • The Unfought: You don't get to duel Yami Bakura or regular Marik, as Yami Yugi handles Bakura and Marik is replaced by Yami Marik.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Very common in duels. Spell cards, traps cards and monster effects are all fairly limited, so most of the time, whoever gets a steady lineup of high-offensive monsters going early on is likely to win.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Telling Bandit Keith that it's not hopeless rejuvenates his fighting spirit, and he'll happily face you for tons of money and 10 deck capacity points should you win.
    • Similarly, if you defeat Rex and then answer "no" when he asks if you've come to laugh at him afterward, he will become your friend and duel you in the future, and if you encourage Espa Roba not to give up dueling after you defeat him, he will remain an opponent to re-duel.
    • Inverted with Mako at the Aquarium. If you give him sympathy, he'll feel like he's being condescended to and leave, and you can't duel him again until he appears at the Pier. If you just tell him "tough", he respects your brutal honesty and says it'll inspire him to get stronger, and he'll stay at the Aquarium for you to re-duel until moving to the Pier later.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Beating a background character in the park and talking to her again will have her ask if she's weak. You can tell her she is, which will make her quit dueling and give you a The Unhappy Maiden card.
    • After you beat Bandit Keith for the last time, you can find him sulking at the Pier. When you beat him again, he loses all hope and gives up on life, asking you if it's hopeless or not. You can actually tell him that it is hopeless, causing him to leave the warehouse and never return.
    • If you defeat Rex and then answer "yes" when he asks if you've come to laugh at him afterward, he will refuse to duel you ever again, and if you agree that Espa Roba should give up dueling after you defeat him, he will listen to your advice.
    • Inverted with Mako at the Aquarium. If you give him sympathy, he'll feel like he's being condescended to and leave, and you can't duel him again until he appears at the Pier. If you just tell him "tough", he respects your brutal honesty and says it'll inspire him to get stronger, and he'll stay at the Aquarium for you to re-duel until moving to the Pier later.