As a fan of the film Battle Royale and The Hunger Games books (the movies are fine too), I’m surprised the battle royale genre hasn’t permanently sunk its teeth into me. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed my time with Fortnite and Apex Legends, the two titles I’ve dabbled with the most. They’re well-crafted games. But each of them also occupies the same niche being shooters. I’m itching for more creative spins on the formula.
The recently announced Rumbleverse, a pro wrestling flavored take on the genre, tickles my fancy as a long-time fan of sports entertainment. But I’m selfish, so give me more battle royales based on my specific interests. If you’ve listened to me on podcasts or watched me on streams, you probably know I’m a big Yu-Gi-Oh fan as well. Since its inception, it’s been my trading card game of choice and is primed for the battle royale treatment. No, I’m not talking about the Yu-Gi-Oh Rush Duel: Dawn of the Battle Royale, which only features the concept in name. I want the real thing. How? Simple: it’s been done already.
The first and most well-known Yu-Gi-Oh anime featured two battle royale-style tournaments: Duelist Kingdom and Battle City. Both contests dropped dozens of players onto a tropical island and a sprawling metropolis, respectively. They tasked competitors with freely dueling each other under elimination rules until only a handful remained (who then competed under traditional brackets). It proved a more entertaining approach than the standard tournament and provided some of the series’ most exciting moments.
I more or less want that exact concept as a multiplayer video game, and given the continued popularity of battle royales and Yu-Gi-Oh, it’s time to strike while the irons are hot. Take a large number of players represented by customizable avatars a la Fortnite, drop them into a huge map, and let them run around and play card games against each other until one duelist remains. I don’t want to say this would be easy because game development is anything but. However, with an established template already in place, this feels like the natural evolution instead of releasing another by-the-numbers card game simulator.
Let’s say you recreate Duelist Kingdom’s island. Winning duels, then walking around until you find the next opponent, could get dull. I’ve always admired how Fornite’s islands feel more like amusement parks than shooter maps. Fortnite lets its players engage with the world itself in other fun ways instead of just adding corpses to it. Duelist Kingdom players could navigate the hidden maze of the Paradox Brothers or sneak into Pegasus’ castle and uncover lore on the flamboyant villain. Just when you’ve finished cooking fish at Mako Tsunami’s campsite, boom, a random player arrives to challenge you in a dramatic fashion. The excitement!
One obstacle is that even with only, say, 50 players instead of the standard 99, waiting for dozens of people to finish dueling may take a while. I don’t think an increasingly shrinking ring works for a card game tournament either. One solution could be adopting the speed duel-style format used in Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links. But I’m a traditionalist (give me my Main Phase 2), so I say stick to the regular format or divide them into filters so that time-sensitive players have quicker options. I’d also ditch the star chips/locater card collection of the anime as well as the bracket tournament for the final handful of competitors. You lose once – a single duel as opposed to a best two-out-of-three match – and you’re out.
As good as this idea is (if I say so myself), money talks, so the only way this game gets off the ground is to make it financially worth it for Konami. They could sell individual cards and booster packs for actual cash. Acquiring the best meta cards requires a financial investment in the real-world game anyway; this won’t be anything new for seasoned players. Purchasable cosmetics could include Yugi’s iconic hairdo, Kaiba’s slick white coat, or Bandit Keith’s patriotic bandana. I know players would throw money at the screen to rock a Rare Hunter’s cloak. Anime conventions and The Wizarding World has proven that we nerds love buying fancy robes, and the Rare Hunter is basically the Organization XIII look of Yu-Gi-Oh. Maybe give players duel monsters pets, too; who doesn’t want a Kuriboh floating alongside them while they search for the next challenger? Of course, everything should also be reasonably obtainable through in-game progression and toss in a battle pass for good measure. Just … don’t turn any of these into NFT’s for the love of the Egyptian Gods.
A true Yu-Gi-Oh battle royale game would be amazing and the second-best thing that could happen behind actual duel disks/holographic card technology (we’ll get there one day). The genre and the Yu-Gi-Oh video games could use a big shake-up. If Konami realizes a million-dollar idea has been staring them in the face for years, I’d wager thousands of players would be ready to drop in and get their game on in a heartbeat. Or it sucks, and we collectively banish it to the Shadow Realm. At least we can still say Konami gave it a shot.