Yu-Gi-Oh! The Legend of Duelist Quarter Century 25th Anniversary Event Highlights!

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Every story has a beginning, and Yu-Gi-Oh! is very much an unusual case. The trading card game (TCG) wasn’t initially conceived as a main idea, with its roots tracing back to the fictional game of Duel Monsters from within the sprawling Yu-Gi-Oh! universe. Much like the norm-defying circumstances of its inception, it has continued to surpass expectations in growth and popularity, even till today.

In celebration of the its 25-year journey, one that includes two Guinness World Records as the world’s best-selling TCG, Konami is hosting a two-day anniversary bash at Tokyo Dome – a first since 1997, its birth year. Held across 3 and 4 February, the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Legend of Duelist Quarter Century event saw a full-house crowd on its first day, where enthusiasts basked in all things Yu-Gi-Oh!.

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Visitors are greeted by big displays of the key art at the main entrance, featuring the iconic Blue-Eyes White Dragon flying in the skies above Tokyo Dome. Step inside to catch the special commemorative cards in the flesh, standing tall and mighty in all their oversized glory, and joined by more large-scale monster cards on the grandstand seats.

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With the first stage performance of the event, attendees were quick to get into theYu-Gi-Oh! spirit. Japanese rock band Novelbright, the opening act for both days, roused excitement with a high-energy rendition of the anime’s theme song, as nostalgic scenes from the show played on the screen.

Meanwhile, card-duelling action is unfolding in the arena. While the more competitive enthusiasts duke it out against each other in a Battle City experience, the rest of the crowd can participate in a quiz championship and hands-on play sessions, turn themselves into a custom Yu-Gi-Oh! card at a green screen area, and enjoy a special movie theatre screening. There are also photo spots within the space, allowing them to take a picture of, and with, their favourite protagonists from all eight anime seasons.

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Head down to the AI System Stage at the right time, and fans will be able to catch a glimpse of the yet-to-be-released AI System for the digital title Master Duel at work. The live demonstration invites fans to pit their prowess against an AI opponent that can learn, think, and execute moves, offering a quick look at the user interface design.

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“Our proposal here is a demo of how individuals can create their own AI to do something with Master Duel,” shares senior producer Kenichi Kataoka in a group interview that Geek Culture attended. “In the future, what we want is to host a tournament where everyone brings their own AI and compete with each other; when we do that, we might have regulations [in place].”

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Kenichi Kataoka, senior producer of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

While only open to select media guests, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links virtual reality experience proved to be a highlight of the digital play area. Running on Meta Quest 3, it brings players into a simulated universe developed by KaibaCorp of the original anime, with head honcho Seto Kaiba pitting his monsters, including Blue-Eyes White Dragon against Dark Magician Girl and later, Dark Magician (of course).

The 15-minute-or-so session teased a good use of its spatial capabilities, with the character models offering a scale of their respective builds against one another. Detailed and animated, their actions and expressions are clearly defined, from Dark Magician’s head nod to Dark Magician Girl’s smile. The immersion factor is also pretty impressive – card activation effects and monster attacks almost feel real, especially when a looming Blue-Eyes White Dragon fires his beam directly at you. It’s a nifty touch to include a narrative element as well, considering the lore-rich world of the Yu-Go-Oh! universe.

It should be noted, however, that this VR preview serves as a proof of concept more than an official project. Speaking in a group interview with regional media, game producer Akitsu Terashima reveals how it’s designed to be an anniversary special and not for full-fledged development, though that may change depending on user feedback.

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Akitsu Terashima, producer of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Duel Links has this uniqueness of being able to showcase the characters and their voices and models, so we thought VR was the best methods to show what the game can do… We think it’d be nice to have it as a frontier project, because the manga and anime already have scenes that somewhat simulate [what goes beyond] the physical,” he says, adding that the team will “think about what to do in the future” after looking at player response, and thus, doesn’t “have anything definite to share.”

Back to the on-site buzz, the TCG celebration continues with a majestic 36-row glass-encased card display. An immediate attraction for collectors and casual players alike, it tracks the design changes over the years, and is truly a sight to behold in the flesh.

For anime and manga enthusiasts, there’s plenty of nostalgia to go around. The 25th-year anniversary dedicates an impressive manga wall to the last chapter of the original work, with the panels oozing a stylish flair. At one point, Kuriboh, whose various forms can be found in exhibited artwork around the event space, even made a mascot appearance in front of it, much to the joy of fans.

Taking a trip down the memory lane is a compilation reel of creator Kazuki Takahashi’s original artwork. Highlighting some of the most iconic scenes from the anime, it comes complete with the signature theme song and a dynamic art style.

There are also other side activities like stamp hunting, but the biggest draw for most would be the exclusive merchandise. Apart from special commemorative cards for each day, ticket holders will be able to pick up their pre-ordered goods, including the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG Duel Monsters EX Reprint Edition, Magicians of Unity and Bonds/Dragon of Pride and Soul Duel Set, the OCG Premium Pack Quarter Century Edition, and more.

Meanwhile, lucky draw winners got their hands on even more items, such as skateboard featuring Dark Magician, a pair of Yu-Gi-Oh!-themed Adidas sneakers, and a card set of the three gods: Silfer the Sky Dragon, Winged Dragon of Ra, and Obelisk the Tormentor. Rounding out day one was the announcement of Konami animation, a new division within the company, followed by the worldwide premiere of Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Game The Chronicles, a special trailer for the anniversary event from the team.

If the first day of The Legend of Duelist Quarter Century is any indication, the second and final day will likely see the same energy and excitement levels – or even higher, as it brings past voice actors to the main stage, such as Kenjiro Tsuda, who played Seto Kaiba in the original anime, KENN (Judai Yuki in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters GX), Kensho Ono (Yuya Sakaki in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V), and more.

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