You might think they’re basically the same trading card game, but the differences between Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon are going to surprise you.
If you have an interest in card games and Japanese Manga and anime, the chances are that either Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokémon were the first exposure you had to that fascinating world. While both franchises may appear to be similar on the surface, based on the basic idea of dueling, the intricacies of each game are actually worlds apart. What are the differences between Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon, and which game might be better suited for you to play?
As the franchise that was established first, the history of Pokémon is worth diving into, especially since it was the first instance of a Japanese game taking the western world by storm. Unlike you may assume, the video games actually premiered before the infamous card game, which came to the US in 1999 and is now being played in over 70 countries world-wide.
The card game came as a result of the smash-hit video game ‘Pocket Monsters Red and Green’ which laid the foundations of Pokémon’s concept and was quickly adapted into different languages to be exported worldwide. Since then, a successful anime series has followed, as well as a number of movies released in cinemas, and the invention of Pokémon Go infatuated a whole new generation.
Conversely, the history of Yu-Gi-Oh starts from humble beginnings. The initial concept ‘magic and Wizards’ (translated for the English-speaking market as ‘Duel Monsters’) was laid out in a rather unpopular Manga of the same name (translating to ‘King of Games’). However, once a small buzz was generated around the game concept, the company Konami developed the card game followed by the anime a year later to promote the new venture.
While the initial effort of Konami was to find a suitable rival to Pokémon’s success, Yu-Gi-Oh has gone on to be a successful franchise within its own right, even surpassing Pokémon’s card sales by a whopping one billion as of 2022.
Yu-Gi-Oh vs Pokémon
While more Yu-Gi-Oh cards have been sold overall across the world, it is Pokémon which is the game you’ll want to be in if you’re a collector. If you take a look at the most expensive Pokémon cards ever, you’ll quickly find the high-value placed on this game (with the Kangaskhan-Holo #115 Family Event Trophy Card selling for $150,000 back in 2020, which isn’t even the most expensive card out there. The premise of putting your Pokémon against each other is an easy concept for someone new to the card game which allows you to quickly get started with minimal set-up.
With this being said, if you are more interested in the actual playing of a game, then you won’t find a better challenge than Yu-Gi-Oh. While both franchises deal with the battling of monsters, where Pokémon simply evolve, you have infinitely more control over Yu-Gi-Oh monsters through the almost infinite combination of spell and trap cards that can be applied, allowing you to execute complex strategies to defeat your opponents. As well as this, you can be ever-expanding your deck by researching the best Yu-Gi-Oh card sets that are hitting the market for further customizations. While Yu-Gi-Oh is a far more involved card game than Pokémon, it could also be argued that mastering it is all the most satisfying for it.