A great post from Latonya Pennington
A few months ago, I had the strong urge to play a card strategy video game. I tried the moblie game Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft and the mobile version of Magic The Gathering and was unsatisfied. Then, I pulled out my old Nintendo DS Lite and insert the game card Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Spirit Callers, continuing a saved game I had never finished. It wasn’t long before I felt my childhood joy return.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the biggest anime franchises ever, containing several manga and anime series and an extremely popular trading card game. This year is the the 20th anniversary of the franchise and it’s so big that an all-new movie was made with the characters from the very first series. Titled Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions, the film premiered in Japan earlier this year and will be released worldwide next year.
As someone who grew up watching the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series, I am super excited for this film. In the United States, the original series revolved around a young boy named Yugi Muto and a card strategy game known as Duel Monsters. With the help of an ancient Egyptian artifact called The Millennium Puzzle, Yugi calls on the spirit that resides in the puzzle to help him win the duels of Duel Monsters. More often than not, these duels involved evil characters that put Yugi’s loved ones and the world at stake.
I got into Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2001 after I heard my guy friends pretending to duel each other at lunch. At the time, the Pokémon franchise was big and I never thought anything could surpass our love for Pokémon. One day, I had wanted to have pretend Pokémon battles with my guy friends but they told me, “We’re dueling now.” They told me about Yu-Gi-Oh! and I managed to catch an episode on Saturday morning on the channel Kids WB. Needless to say, I was hooked.
Looking back, I think the original reason Yu-Gi-Oh! appealed to me was that it catered to my love of fantasy fiction. While it wasn’t a Harry Potter level of fantasy, the creatures used in Duel Monsters and the mysterious Millennium Puzzle spirit had elements of fantasy that entertained me a lot. I was also drawn toward the voice acting, especially that of Dan Green, who voices both Yugi and the Millennium puzzle spirit Yami. Once I started watching the series, my guy friends and I would discuss episodes and have our own pretend duels.
Yu-Gi-Oh! was also significant because it was the first anime that I watched that was specifically aimed at a male audience. Pokemon was a franchise with male and female characters sharing the spotlight, but Yu-Gi-Oh! mostly had male characters getting the attention. Moreover, Pokémon was family friendly, but Yu-Gi-Oh! had more action adventure and darker themes as it progressed. Yet, my guy friends and I had fun with the series until we went our separate ways for middle school.
Although I would end up playing four Yu-Gi-Oh! video games from 2002 onward, I didn’t own a true-blue Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters video game until I got Spirit Callers sometime in the late 2000’s. The reason for this was mostly due to a couple misunderstandings with my family. Although I told my family that I’d wanted a Yu-Gi-Oh! game for my b-day or Christmas I didn’t tell them a specific game. As a result, I got Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Coliseum for the Playstation 2, which was the chess version of Duel Monsters.
While Capsule Coliseum was enjoyable, I preferred a game involving the card version of Duel Monsters. After playing this game, one demo of a PC game, and one Blockbuster video game rental, I finally got Spirit Callers. By that time, the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series was over and so was my interest in the franchise. Despite this, I managed to enjoy playing the game, summoning monsters and dueling until I was content. I never finished the game back then, but I hope to beat it this time around.
Although I don’t have as much time to play video games as I used to, I’ve come to appreciate Spirit Callers more than I did as a kid. Now an older and wiser duelist, I’ve learned to build better decks in the game and have become a pretty good strategist. My personal favorite deck I have in Spirit Callers is called Sword and Sorcery, which features mostly warrior and spell caster monster cards and spell and trap cards that suit them.
When it comes to my Sword and Sorcery deck, my favorite monster cards are the Dark Magician, Dark Magician Girl, and Magician of Black Chaos. The only thing I love more than these cards is the spell card Polymerization, which allows you to fuse monsters to create a more powerful monster. In fact, my favorite fusion so far is Elemental Hero Thunder Giant. He’s come in handy when destroying monsters!
With anniversaries like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! being celebrated this year, 90’s kids like me are nostalgic. Everyone has that one cartoon from their childhood that they will always cherish and for me that is Yu-Gi-Oh!. The card game was (and still is) fun, the voice acting was great, and the theme song is epic. If you asked me want I wanted to be in the world of anime, I think a Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist would most likely be my choice. It’s time to du- du-duel! Happy 20th anniversary Yu-Gi-Oh!
You can find Latonya on Twitter at
@TonyaWithAPen and at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyapenn