Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links Producer on success, Rush Duels & bringing old cards back from the graveyard

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links Producer on success, Rush Duels & bringing old cards back from the graveyard
Images via Konami

Written by 

Elliot Gray


25th Sep 2023 14:00

After six years and more than 150 million downloads worldwide, Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links has become a level-seven monster of a game in its own right.

Having enjoyed unbelievable success in Japan with its physical release, the Rush Duels format is officially set to be added to the game worldwide - and Duel Links is about to change forever.

With a brand new mode starting everyone off on the same point all over again, it’s the perfect time for old-school veterans and newbies alike to delve into the world of Duel Links and Rush Duels.

We sat down with Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links producer Akitsu Terashima to talk everything around the Rush Duels format, why he thinks it’ll be successful, how nostalgic cards can find a new lease of life within the game, and which cards he uses to be the King Of Duels in his family.

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links producer interview

Blue-Eyes White Dragon in Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links
Click to enlarge

Rush Duels have been a runaway success in Japan. Why do you think the new format was so universally popular, and how do you think that will translate to a Western audience?

I think the main reason for the success of Rush Duels in Japan is that the game is constantly updating with new cards to play with. I think it can have a great deal of success in the West in Duel Links, partly because with Rush Duels, everyone is starting fresh, from the same start line - so everyone can think to themselves, 'I can be the best, I can win'.

When was the decision made to add Rush Duels to Duel Links? Was it in response to the format's success in Japan, or was it always the plan?

We started to think about adding Rush Duels to the game about two years ago, but really we decided to do it about one year ago with the success of Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS. We are a little worried about whether the players will welcome this new way of playing, but we have worked very hard on game balance and ways to bring in new players - so we ultimately decided to implement Rush Duels into Duel Links.

Kuribot card in Yu Gi Oh Duel Links
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Rush Duels tend to play out a lot faster than your typical Yu-Gi-Oh TCG matches or in the Speed Duel Format. It’s simpler, and you draw until you have five cards in hand every single turn - what were the challenges when it came to adapting Duel Links' longstanding Speed Duel format for Rush Duels?

Yes, you’re right, we did run into a number of difficulties - for example, life points. The number of cards in the deck was also a challenge that we needed to change. We had to listen to everyone involved and change them to get it right.

Our directors, really everyone played the game until we felt we got the balance right with 6,000 Life Points and the deck limits. In Japan, we have the physical game, and the balance was done step by step, but now, with it being brand new in Duel Links, we’re confident it’s already balanced.

screenshot of gameplay in yu gi oh duel links
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It’s fair to say that Speed Duels (the format that Duel Links is currently based on) hasn’t quite had the same level of success as Rush Duels. Are you worried that Rush Duels will overshadow the original Duel Links experience at all?

No, I’m not worried about it being overshadowed at all. You can see through events like the World Championship Series the amount of people who like the game, who will still like it. A lot of people who are still playing Duel Links have been doing so for the last five or six years, so I don’t think that they will quit because of Rush Duels - rather this new mode will attract even more new players.

Rush Duels adds lots of new cards - it’s a clean slate to the card pool, potentially allowing cards and archetypes that older players will have grown up to become viable again, especially with Legend Cards like Dark Magician. Can we expect to see a lot of nostalgic monsters and strategies to make their way back into Duel Links?

That’s exactly right! The intent going forward is to continue bringing back more of these more nostalgic cards that older players loved, and hopefully bring them back to the game.

Duel Links is constantly refreshing the cards available to players. Is the intention to release new card boxes in tandem with the official release, or can we expect Duel Links exclusive cards and sets?

For now, that’s not in our plans. But I understand the idea of that could be quite appealing to players of Duel Links, so it’s certainly something that I am thinking about for the future.

Given that Rush Duels are so influenced by the Yu-Gi-Oh Sevens anime, what characters do you imagine coming into the Rush Duel side of the game?

We have plans to bring in new cards and new characters from the Yu-Gi-Oh Sevens anime, but we can’t reveal anything around that just yet!

yuga ohdo in yu gi oh duel links
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It’s been mentioned a few times that a lot of the focus around Rush Duels is on bringing the new generation of Yu-Gi-Oh players in. Which aspects of Rush Duels do you think will be most exciting for younger players?

With Duel Links being more than six years old now, we felt the game was in need of refreshing. The main interest I think for younger players is that with Rush Duels, everyone is starting from the same start line. You don’t have to be extremely knowledgeable of Yu-Gi-Oh or Duel Links to start - so I think after six years, it’s good timing to try something new.

It’s been said before that you love playing Rush Duels with your family when you’re at home – when you’re duelling with them, what’s your favourite Rush Duels deck to use and why?

I use Cyber Dragon – it’s a Japanese-only card – but I like Cyber Dragon, I use it to destroy my children in Rush Duels! If you have the right conditions, you can finish your opponent in one blow.

For more on Yu-Gi-Oh, check out our Rush Duels preview, as well as our rundown of the Duelist Nexus set.

Elliot is a Video Editor at GGRecon, specialising in Call of Duty and a variety of other titles.