Yu-Gi-Oh has had a massive gaming comeback. now it's Pokemon TCG's turn
We've all had experiences with Pokemon cards at some point or another. Trading with your pals on the playground for a slightly silvery Ancient Mew you didn't know was fake, or bagging your first EX card from a random booster pack - they've followed the video game franchise around as bolt-on for consumers, but Pokemon cards eventually became a whole different beast from the Pokemon game franchise, garnering a fan base all by itself.
Pokemon cards are a big part of playground culture even today, with new waves of cards coming frequently enough to keep interest rampant - but it has been missing from video games for some time now. The classic Pokemon TCG games are absolute winners, predating the trend of online card games and proving that it's not just turn-based action that can work for fans of the franchise even upon the first game's launch on the Game Boy Colour.
But, it's been away for far too long. And there's no better time for the trading card game to return to consoles than right now.
Yu-Gi-Oh: Master Duel has proved TCG Games are still brilliant
January 18 brought with it the launch of a game that took a lot of people by surprise - the return of a deeply nostalgia-tinted Yu-Gi-Oh!, the competitive trading card game that served as the Moriarty to Pokemon's Sherlock Holmes. Yu-Gi-Oh: Master Duel leapt straight up the Steam charts, and has done similarly in downloads across Xbox, PlayStation and Switch, absolutely dominating its categories. But, though the game came as a surprise, its success is anything but.
Card games are still incredibly popular, with the ongoing servers of Hearthstone and Gwent that don't seem to be showing any signs of losing players - and if you mix that with a card game with interesting monsters to fight with, endless iconography and remaining nostalgia from the playground, then there's no wonder it's back with such bite.
The game boasts a lot of what has made Hearthstone so popular - adorable mascots, nigh-on infinite deck customisation with over 10,000 cards to pick from, custom animations to give your final blows some serious punch, and adaptive music that knows when you're about to lay waste to your opponents. It transforms Yu-Gi-Oh! from a game where you can snidely smirk as your foe activates your trap card, to a genuinely exciting action game led by card mechanics that make you feel like a true badass. But this doesn't have to be limited to Yu-Gi-Oh! - in fact, this is an incredible opportunity to make a big comeback.
The Pokemon trading card game could come back with a bang
This card game hype train doesn't have to come with Kuribohs. Players and gamers alike still absolutely adore the Pokemon Trading Card Game, and there's no reason that Nintendo can't build from this framework to develop a free-to-play Pokemon version all for themselves.
The two franchises are lacking what the other has in droves - Yu-Gi-Oh! With its complex playing style, and Pokemon with its simplicity and iconography. Using the animations and mascots of modern card video games could be a real treat when adapting the Pokemon card game for modern virtual audiences, and with the game franchise already putting turn-based combat to use, there's no reason that the TCG's return can't also serve as a free-to-play way to get a slice of the Pokemon action of old. Though the franchise has proven that microtransactions are a little unsavoury when attributed to Pocket Monsters with Pokemon UNITE's extortionate skin prices, but this would serve as a great opportunity for The Pokemon Company to make bank (as though any Pokemon game wouldn't do so anyway). Packs of Pokemon cards without having to actually produce cards? Sounds like a dream.
Plus, if this game comes to life as hoped, it could be Nintendo's golden opportunity to finally show some love for competitive gaming. Their habits in shutting down pro events in gaming is bleak, but with the Pokemon TCG having plenty of tournaments anyway, it'd be a remarkably easy transition with plenty of new competitive fans to earn along the way.
A modern Pokemon TCG game could be amazing
All of the pieces of a perfect modern Pokemon TCG game are out there, and the hype for trading card video games are clearly at such a high, that all it takes is for The Pokemon Company to put them all together. The spin-off series is long overdue a refresh either way, and with the addition of Gigantamax Pokemon to the card pool, there's a lot of fun to be had with the huge dramatics that comes with a Pokemon battle.
If Pokemon is about to get officially competitive, this is the way it needs to do it - and it's Yu-Gi-Oh! who are likely to show them the ropes. Most of us miss the feeling of cracking open a pack and trading up the playground hierarchy - and we're more than happy to do it all over again on our consoles.