The fact it took the series protagonist less than a thousand years to solve this puzzle is a credit to his character.

The first thing that stands out about Yu-Gi-Oh! protagonist Yugi Muto is his shock of tri-colored, physics-defying hair — bushy and crimson-tipped in the back, gelled into long spiky blonde bangs at the front. If you can take your eyes off his anime-tastic mane for long enough, you’ll notice that this pint-sized protagonist wears a very unusual and painful-looking pendant around his neck.

▼ Assuming that puzzle is made of solid gold, Yugi must have neck muscles like a horse.

The puzzle’s iconic design has loomed large in the minds of fans for years now. Could we, if given the same opportunities as Yugi, solve the Millennium Puzzle and unlock a tall and edgy alter-ego with a penchant for playing card games? Well, we’ve now been granted an opportunity to find out, thanks to model kit company Bandai, who released a kit to make your own Millennium Puzzle this year as part of their Ultimagear line.

Priced 3,850 yen (US$33.88), the model was re-released recently after incredible sales. The puzzle doesn’t necessarily require any adhesive or paint; you should theoretically be able to pop out the pieces from the plastic frames and combine them to create your own cumbersome piece of jewelry. Despite its alleged difficulty level, it should be fitting for newcomers to plastic model building.

▼ This puzzle is plastic, not gold, and doesn’t promise to unlock any eyeliner-wearing alternate selves.

We flexed our beginner’s hands nervously and looked at all those plastic sheets with trepidation. Entombed within the knobbly frames were 80 individual plastic pieces, and each of them needed to be arranged with painstaking care in order to yield a perfect pyramid.

Our first task was to free the pieces. Sweating slightly, we removed each one with all the precision of a character in a survival game pressing a needle to a delineated pattern on a butterscotch disc.

This part of the process is where we combine the pieces to make the 33 distinct puzzle pieces that Yugi put together to make the puzzle. There are numbered sections to snap together and the instruction manual provides a full step-by-step explanation, so even plastic model novices like ourselves managed to end up with 33 beautiful pieces after an hour and a half of careful work.

Here is where we have to use our brains because the instruction manual refuses to offer any more help. Like Yugi, you must work out how to place the puzzle pieces for yourself. This aspect is even advertised on the box in two languages!

We couldn’t help but scoff, now that we had the 33 pieces in front of us. It took Yugi eight years or so to complete this puzzle, right? Pah! We could probably get it done in eight hours. These things are never as hard as the packaging makes them out to be. And true enough, we initially identified the corner pieces and started to fill in the gaps from there.

▼ This is obviously the top part because there’s a spot to thread a chain through so you can wear it as a pendant (for some reason).

▼ And these are obviously the corner pieces.

We added piece after piece to the pyramid, feeling giddy with our rapid progress. Yugi, you fool! This is such a simple process that a child could do it in an afternoon! As our inner monologue reached Maximillian Pegasus levels of contempt, we stopped short.

So, er…

Wait… Where does the next piece go…?


We had been making such steady and confident progress, but now none of the remaining pieces looked like a good fit…nor did they look like they could even make a shape that would finish off the pyramid. We tried deconstructing the puzzle to find our mistake and re-build it anew, realizing that there were many potential routes to build a base. Some pieces could be implemented and then rotated slightly to facilitate more pieces.

Remembering that in the anime Yugi finishes the puzzle with the emblematic “eye” piece, we tried working backwards from that…

Yeah, no luck there either. We destroyed and rebuilt our puzzle over and over, utterly absorbed.

We eventually reached a point where we only had a handful of pieces remaining…and then got stuck again. So close!

By now we had completely given up on the idea of solving it in eight years. Maybe after a thousand years we’d get it. So we went searching on the official website to try and find a solution… Where we were greeted by this ominous message.

What a warning! It felt like the type of dissuading message that would pop up when trying to cancel a subscription service. After some deep internal examination we decided that we didn’t want to cheat ourselves, so we closed the window and returned to the puzzle. Maybe it’ll take us eight years, or a thousand, or (more realistically) somewhere in between… But we’ll solve this puzzle with our own ingenuity, and no guidance other than the heart of the cards!

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