Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories Retro Review – Introducing the Hit TCG To the Playstation

There is no doubt that Yu-Gi-Oh! has grown to be a massive franchise spanning many generations. A hit trading card game that was not only turned into an anime, but also into video games was a pretty big thing. Unfortunately Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories didn’t make it outside of Japan until 2002, but when it hit, it hit hard. Let’s take a trip through time and see how strong the heart of the cards were back in the PlayStation One era!

This title is one of the first ever Yu-Gi-Oh! Video Games! It originally released in 1999 in Japan, but didn’t make its way to other countries until 2002 and later!

Introduction – Loosely Based, Completely Awesome!

I’m a die-hard fan of the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, and a follower of the first two adaptations of the anime. Forbidden Memories is a game I am glad I got the chance to experience both as a kid and as an adult. Now, initially I was late to the party and didn’t get to enjoy this classic until about 2004 or 2005, but boy am I glad I did. The game itself is loosely based on the anime, following some of its lore and including many of it’s iconic characters, and takes you on a magical journey of history, monsters, and card battles. With many similar aspects to the TCG, it’s own dynamic additions to the games rules, and plenty of story to keep you hooked, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories is truly a great game. Fans of the anime, TCG, or just cool monsters battles in general can get into this title.

Some lore is identical to the anime, some of it is specific only to this classic title.

The Story – Take Dueling To The Past And To The Future!

Back in the day, when the PlayStation was at its highest peak, there were countless games with hours upon hours of gameplay available. Most of the top hits were long, awesome, addicting, and loads of fun. Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories was no exception. With no end of duels to be had, tons of cards to collect, and plenty of characters to grow fond of, this game hits the nail on the head in all story aspects. It’s engaging, its emotional, it’s fun, and it’s completely bad ass!

Following the tragic story of a young prince and the battle to secure his kingdom from an evil overlord, you become entwined in the lives of two characters. Yugi Moto, the main protagonist of the anime is linked to an ancient pharaoh via the power of an item called the Millennium Puzzle, and through this item, you get to experience the battles of both the Pharaoh and the young hero. Using the power of “the heart of the cards” these two linked souls duel their way to the top and help bring together ancient artifacts and return the Pharaoh to his timeline.

Face off against iconic Yu-Gi-Oh! characters just like in the anime!

You battle iconic characters from the anime like Seto Kaiba, Mai Valentine, Weevil Underwood, and more. The fluidity of the story going from duel to duel is great, even though it may seem a bit rushed at times. The difficulty is both irritating and engaging, making for an amazing challenge. Plus, the story goes on for so long you can easily spend days or even weeks on this game. It truly was a remarkable title for its time, and as one of the first ever Yu-Gi-Oh video games, I think they did a perfect job embodying what it was all about!

The Gameplay – So Much More Than The Regular Trading Card Game

What’s better than a game that is challenging, easy to learn, and loads of fun? Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories is all of those things and even more. While the game can be a tad too difficult at times, it makes up for it with expansive story and easy gameplay. The battles are straight forward and fast, making it very crucial to learn your strategies and what cards you need to keep in your deck. With a lot of the same rules as the TCG and even some of its own, there are nearly limitless strategies to learn, and plenty of awesome monster to summon and even fuse together!

The duels and the monsters are equally epic!

Speaking of fusion, possibly the absolute most incredible thing in Forbidden Memories is the fact that you can, on any given turn, fuse the monsters in your hand together to make cards you might otherwise not be able to get easily. This makes duels way more interesting and can lead to both epic victories or horrid defeats depending on which side of the fusions you end up on. Unfortunately, you’ll have to experiment over and over and over again to get the right combos down, but to me, that makes the game that much more fun. A pen and paper is handy for this!

Overall, the mechanics are super simple and the difficulty is more than challenging enough to sit this game in an upper tier of classic titles. Especially for the time it came out, there weren’t that many TCG based games back then. For being one of the first from its franchise no less, there isn’t much to complain about.

Additionally, in Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories, cards can be redeemed/purchased with Starchips (which are won from duels) through the in-game password screen. When the correct password is entered, you are shown the card with the starchip cost. We have a full starchip guide here!

The Graphics and The Sounds – Not Bad In The Least

Take your opponents life points down to zero to ensure victory.

PlayStation graphics were amongst the best of its time, and with the anime backing, and creative monster designs, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories is a class act in the visual department. Identical character designs bring the anime side of the game to life, with vibrant colors and even some new designs for some ancient representations. The cards are represented very well, and the battle animations are exceptional for when it came out. All-in-all the graphics are a total win for this 2002 title.

The sounds are not necessarily stand-out or mind-blowing by any means, but some catchy sounds and effects make the nostalgia of Forbidden Memories shine through. This is one of those games where when you turn it on you get sent back in time. The classic graphics and patterned instrumentals make for a flashback of epic proportions!

Replay Value – Worth It Over And Over Again

There are hundreds of cards to win, making for a long and fun collection!

There aren’t too many games from the early 2000s that I can think of off the top of my head that aren’t great to go back to every now and then. With many, many duels, cards, and strategies to learn, Forbidden Memories is no exception to that. You can repeatedly beat this game and want to go back for more. Whether it be to try and collect all the cards, get a perfect score versus your rival characters, or try and figure out every possible card combo, there is no shortage of things to do. If you’re a fan of the anime or the TCG than chances are you’ll be back to this title on more than one or two occasions, I can almost guarantee it.

Conclusion – One Of My All-Time Favorites On The PS One

Do well and win big! Perfect your strategy to get new cards and star points!

Now, as I’ve stated, I’m a big fan of the first gen of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Seeing as this is a direct game from that exact time period, I may be a tad biased on my score here. I’m confident that I would still feel the same about this fantastic title even if I never heard of the franchise. While it has a few flaws, like the initial difficulty, plenty of typos, and some rules that make no sense compared to the actual TCG, they are easily overlooked by excellent story, gameplay, and visuals. As far as early 2000 hits go, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories sits up at the top. I give Forbidden Memories a solid 8 out of 10 and recommend this game to any fan of Yu-Gi-Oh or classic anime-based video games. Let’s hope one day we get a remaster!


  • Anime Nostalgia
  • Great Graphics
  • Awesome Story
  • Iconic Characters
  • Revolutionary Gameplay for its time


  • Might be too hard at times
  • Some typos and incorrect rules

Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories


As one of the first of it's kind, this title takes console-based TCG's to a whole new level. Excellent gameplay with a good challenge and nostalgic characters!

Zachary M. Cain
PlayStation version reveiwed.