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  1. #1

    Retro|Spective 006: Dragon Quest

    Here we are with one of the larger franchises that we'll be looking at with the Japanese RPG series:

    Dragon Quest

    Mainline Entry 01 – Dragon Quest
    In 1986 the NES saw the release of the original game in the series. Enix and Chunsoft launched what would be, for a long while, a key rival to Final Fantasy with this RPG that aimed to promote story telling more so than other rival games on the market at the time. Whilst the original game struggled to have an impact outside of Japan it went on to sell enough copies domestically to lead to a sequel.

    Mainline Entry 02 – Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line
    Releasing the very next year this sequel expanded on the combat system and continued the storyline moving events on by a hundred years. This careful revision of the systems and combat in the game proved successful and the game outsold the original release.

    Mainline Entry 03 – Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation
    Just one more year later and the third game also saw release bringing to an end what is considered to be a trilogy within the series. Set a generation before the previous games the game gave fans some pay off for following the series and delivered the teams biggest success to date.

    Mainline Entry 04 – Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
    The fourth entry followed its subtitles suggestion by breaking the game up into five distinct chapters following different characters. Whilst the game continued to expand on the various gameplay aspects in the series, such as adding day and night cycles, its more individual standing from the previous games meant some sales momentum was lost despite still being a big success at home. It would, however, be the last English localised game in the series till the end of the 90's.

    Mainline Entry 05 – Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
    Thefranchise could no longer resist the generational jump up to the SNES and this fifth entry did just that. The game was a straight up individual entry (though some connections to IV do exist) and now being restricted to just domestic sales the game would prove pivotal in the continuation of the franchise. Thankfully, the game proved to be a consistent success and has since seen two remakes.

    Spin Off Entry 01 - Dragon Quest: Mystery Dungeon / Torneko no Daiboken: Fushigi no Dungeon
    Dragon Quest saw its first spin-off title with this SNES roguelike game which saw the trader character from the fourth mainline entry exploring the titles Mystery Dungeon.

    Mainline Entry 06 – Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation
    The sixth game brought to an end the Zenithia trilogy which grouped the fourth through sixth entries. It was the last of the 16bit era releases but none the less maintained the level of success the series had enjoyed until now.

    Spin Off Entry 02 - Dragon Quest Monsters
    Spin Off Entry 03 - Torneko: The Last Hope

    Mainline Entry 07 – Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
    Following the huge success of Square's Final Fantasy VII the western market was once again seen as viable for RPGs and so this seventh entry for the PS1 saw the series return to a wider audience for the 32bit generation. The game doesn't add anything key to the series, opting more just to make the transition between generations but it was none the less well received and would also mark the last time that the western monikor of Dragon Warrior would be used for its games.

    Spin Off Entry 04 - Dragon Quest Monsters 2
    Spin Off Entry 05 - Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart
    Spin Off Entry 06 - Torneko no Daiboken 3
    Spin Off Entry 07 - Slime Morimori Dragon Quest: Shogeki no Shippo Dan
    Spin Off Entry 08 - Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special
    Mainline Entry 08 – Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
    The short number of intervening years saw an explosion of tie in and spin-off titles on an array of platforms but it would be another generation of console that would see the next main entry with this eighth title that took the series into 3D visuals and added a cel-shaded look. The game was the series biggest success to date but its also notable for being where the series diverted away from large console traditional experiences, likely due to the merger of Square and Enix and Final Fantasy being the main priority.

    Spin Off Entry 09 - Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
    Spin Off Entry 10 - Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker
    Spin Off Entry 11 - Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable
    Spin Off Entry 12 - Dragon Quest: Shonen Yangus no Fushigi no Dungeon
    Spin Off Entry 13 - Itadaki Street DS
    Spin Off Entry 14 - Dragon Quest Monster Battle Road
    Spin Off Entry 15 - Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors
    Spin Off Entry 16 - Dragon Quest Wars
    Mainline Entry 09 – Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
    By the time the ninth game was releasing the spin off range had become the real focus of the series with a mixture of roguelike entries and oddities like the motion controlled Wii Swords entry. The mainline ninth game though pushed aside the eighth entries console credentials and zoned in on portables by being a DS exclusive. The game took a significant risk by doing so and compounded that decision by attempting to add in a local multiplayer mode as well. As was usually the case, the gamble paid off and the game breaking franchise records. The results were mixed for Square Enix though. Despite being a franchise high point and causing domestic hardware sales to soar, Square Enix was in the midst of a bad habit of over inflating their expectations for their franchises sales and so internally, mistakingly, looked at the game as a borderline failure.

    Spin Off Entry 17 - Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
    Spin Off Entry 18 - Dragon Quest Monster Battle Road 2
    Spin Off Entry 19 - Dragon Quest Monster Battle Road Victory
    Spin Off Entry 20 - Fortune Street
    Spin Off Entry 21 - Slime Morimori Dragon Quest 3: Taikaizoku to hippo Dan
    Mainline Entry 10 - Dragon Quest X: Mezameshi Itsutsu no Shuzoku Online

    The lack of an English subtitle is no coincidence with Square Enix becoming picky about this Wii originating tenth entry which was instead focused on being an online only MMORPG as the company pushed for successes in that area following their dogged drive for success with FFXI. The game saw successive releases on other hardware formats but is the least successful entry in the franchise by a wide margin.

    Spin Off Entry 22 - Dragon Quest Monsters: Super Light
    Spin Off Entry 23 - Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below
    Spin Off Entry 24 - Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3
    Spin Off Entry 25 - Dragon Quest Monster Battle Road Scanner
    Spin Off Entry 26 - Dragon Quest Builders
    Spin Off Entry 27 - Dragon Quest Heroes II
    Mainline Entry 11 - Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
    The next release will be the long awaited eleventh entry in the mainline series. Already out on 3DS and PS4 in Japan, the Switch and western markets will receive the game next year and sees the series aim to re-establish itself as a main RPG player in the market. The shift back towards a more traditional series seemed to pay off as initial sales for the game in Japan far surpassed the tenth entry.

    Share your experiences of the franchise over the years

  2. #2
    I have to admit, Dragon Quest is a series that has felt ever present and yet I think I'm right in saying my total playtime amounts to no more than two hours on Dragon Quest VIII which I picked up whilst on holiday in the US when it first came out.

    The series always came across as a much more lean, core turn based JRPG series than Final Fantasy and as that series often strained my attention span for the genre I never ended up making any progress with the series.

  3. #3
    Problem with Dragon Quest is due to the lack of European releases most won't have played the series until the PlayStation 2 release of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. First one I played in the mid 00s was the remake of Dragon Quest 3 on SFC which is top stuff,

    Even today Dragon Quest 1,2 and 3 still haven't been released in Europe. Currently 4,5,6 and 9 got released on Nintendo DS and their are also 3DS ports of 7 and 8.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Superman Falls View Post
    I have to admit, Dragon Quest is a series that has felt ever present and yet I think I'm right in saying my total playtime amounts to no more than two hours
    Similar thing for me, really. I played a bit of Joker and a bit of "Dragon Warrior Monsters" on the Game Boy Color, but that's about it.

    I tried to get into one of the DS ones - I remember something about you being an angel? But I just couldn't get into it; I found it really tiresome.

  5. #5
    I imagine for many DQ9 is a key title, it seemed to go through a phase of being quite popular in a fairly wide way. It's one of the main DS titles though that again I never started on as sprawling JRPGs have always felt at odds with the short burst handheld format for me.

  6. #6
    I haven't played any of the games in the series, but bought my brother a copy of Dragon Quest VIII for the PS2 back in the day, and he said it was pretty good. From what I saw of it, the game world looked really nice.

  7. #7
    I've only every played VIII and III (which I'm about 3/4 of the way through on the Game Boy) but I love them both. They are very repetitive with endless turn based battles but I prefer them to the flouncy faff of Final Fantasy games. You know what you're getting with a Dragon Quest game: lots of battles and small amounts of story and puzzles but a game world that feels real, almost as if it existing independently of the player rather than simply as a stage for some convoluted melodrama.

    I remember talking to my manager at work one day and she said she had been sitting in her garden the previous night watching the sun go down and what a beautiful sight it was. I knew I had seen a great sunset recently but couldn't remember where. I was about to tell her about it when I realised that it was on a beach in Dragon Quest VIII. I decided not to share my story with her.

  8. #8
    Early next week we'll re-establish these in terms of frequency with a series that takes us away from JRPGS and off into the stars

  9. #9
    This is a series that has almost entirely passed me by - the only one I can recall playing is Dragon Warrior Monsters on the GBC, back when it came out. I remember it being pretty good, but no Pokémon.

    I really like the look of XI's graphics and style though, so I could definitely see myself trying that once it's out in English - maybe on Switch. Anyone playing it in Japanese and got any impressions?

    EDIT: Tell a lie, I also played Rocket Slime on DS. I didn't get too far with it though.


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