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5 Shows like Yu-Gi-Oh: Game On!

Laura Light itcherLooking to fill the Yu-Gi-Oh sized hole in your life? Then get ready for more mystical creatures, anime animation, card battling duels and magic powers in ‘Pokemon’, ‘Digimon Adventure’ and ‘Beyblade’, all TV shows like ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’. ~ Laura Light

It’s Time to Duel!

So is ‘Yu-Go-Oh’ still popular? Darn right it is! The highly energetic animated series helped create the still widespread strategy game, where dualists often call out a specific attack for their monsters, something that isn’t featured in the show.

When I was ‘forced’ to watch several episodes (my sister is a huge fan), and began to actually follow the plot, I discovered that the show, while basically just a marketing ploy to sell trading cards, is actually a complex and captivating story with well-developed and multi-dimensional characters and relationships. The animation is crisp and the characters are real, touching, and very amusing.

So suspend your scepticism, Yugi fans, for just five minutes and enjoy these three TV series like ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, I swear, it’s worth it!

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Shows Similar to ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’…

‘Pokemon’ (Sky One, 1997-2002)

Pikachu won’t change. If it’s going to battle Raichu, it’s going to do it just as it is. It’s going to battle in the name of all Pikachus!

So this little gem is about the adventures of Ash Ketchum (Rica Matsumoto) and his partner Pikachu (Ikue Otani), who travel across many regions in hopes of being regarded as a Pokemon master.

Let’s be honest, is there any of us who doesn’t feel nostalgic at the slight muttering of the words, “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was”? (For those of you who lived in a cave, those are the first two lines of the theme song.) Like me, you may just remember the original Kanto Pokemon (Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Pikachu), and even now, years on, I still think the first few seasons are timeless; the first season itself is epic in every single way possible.

Side note: The newer episodes are pants! It just doesn’t FEEL like the ‘Pokemon’ I know and love anymore. Not to mention, I’ve lost track at how many new Pokemon there are and what happened to the good old days with Ash, Brock and Misty?

Similarity Match: 95%
Both shows are anime cartoons based on duelling, but where ‘Pokemon’ is light-hearted and fun, ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ is dark and pensive.

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‘Digimon Adventure’ (Fox Kids, 1999-2000)

When you can’t think of anything to say, do you always resort to fighting?

An animated series based on the popular children’s toy, in which kids raise and train electronic monsters to fight against those raised by other kids. The show follows the adventures of a team of monster trainers as they travel about honing the skills of their monsters and facing challenges from rival trainers, some of whom don’t feel obliged to fight fair.

In spite of the video-game likeness, what really works here is the sense of discovery and wonderment that this show captures. This was the first time the audience was introduced to this unique world and for about half of the running length there was always some interesting new element or principle to be discovered: the enigmatic black gears, the tags and crests, a sphinx with programming code and a colourful village that might as well be the world’s greatest nursery. It may not be the best anime series out there, but it’s still a classic in my book!

Similarity Match: 90%
Like ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, our hero battles the forces of evil with his friends in tow, though Yugi seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders at times.

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‘Beyblade’ (ABC Family, 2001-2005)

Excuse me but I have a match to win…

Four beybladers and their genius friend travel the world as team ‘Bladebreakers’ to win a championship, realizing there’s much more at stake than just the contest.

I love English dubbed anime. I know a lot of people are going to be shaking their head right now, and I get that the Japanese version is far grander, but for kids (its main audience) it makes so much more sense! Like most of the anime shows at the time, merchandise was a big deal, and let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t want to save the world like their favourite character on TV?

Similarity Match: 85%
Cool battles, great soundtrack and anime to boot, but unlike ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, this is aimed at a slightly younger audience with disposable income.

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If You Like ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, You Will Like…

So you have properly worked out already that I love anime! The card games (very 90s) took over my life for a while, as did the quest for collecting them all.  But let’s take a side step here… there’s gotta be other TV shows similar to ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ that are based on games right? Sure, here’s two just off the top of my head…

‘Sonic X’ (4Kids TV, 2003-2006)

What is this? Eggman swore that all he wanted was to live in peace!

A slight malfunction causes Chaos Control, and sends Sonic the Hedgehog (Junichi Kanemaru) to Earth. While there, Sonic meets Chris Thorndyke (Sanae Kobayashi), who aids at collecting the Chaos Emeralds, so Sonic and friends can go home. The Japanese version of this series is a great anime example.  It’s shockingly complex with witty dialogue and great character development, plus manages to be dark, light-hearted, and hilarious all at the same time.

Like a lot of anime in its genre, it can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. (I certainly still love it!) The plot follows the game true to form, although there’s some changes and twists thrown in to make it more tense! Watch it! It’s a keeper!

Like ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, ‘Sonic X’ focuses on the theme of good vs evil, and how important friendships are, but where the former doesn’t sugar coat evil deeds, the latter just breezes past them.

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‘The Legend of Zelda’ (ITV, 1989 – )

It’s a shame not many shows are as good as this one nowadays! This show has it all: gripping plots, amazing writing and awesome music! Based on the popular Nintendo game of the same name, Link and Princess Zelda protect the mystical artefact, the Triforce of Wisdom, from falling into the hands of the evil sorcerer Ganon. The 1989 ‘The Legend of Zelda’ animated series lasted for 13 episodes, and aired as part of ‘The Super Mario Bros. Super Show’. As a huge fan of the video-game series, I lapped this up, plus watching Zelda kick butt was a bonus. (Go girl power!)

Both our protagonists are protecting a mystical object, but where Yugi’s duels seem more life and death, Link fights like he is playing for fun.

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The King of Games

There’s loads of TV series similar to ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ that will give you a bucket load of action , anime style, so if I haven’t hit the nail on head, try these anime inspired shows for size (nothing new to you serial gamers I expect!). Oh and on a side note (yep another one) check out ‘Monster Rancher’ for more monster duelling gaming style!

Have I Missed Any?

Do You Think ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ is as popular as ‘Pokemon’ today?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

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