The Appeal of Dragon Quest
So… I’m a recent Dragon Quest convert. I’m not ashamed to admit it. After years of evangelizing the gospel of Final Fantasy and Tetsuya Nomura and Hironobu Sakaguchi and all those other wonderful guys, I’ve gotten so disenfranchised with la Última Fantasía that I just said “fuck it, I’m gonna play something good”.
And now I’m enlightened.
I didn’t grow up with Dragon Quest. I’ve been a Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana guy. A Zelda guy. Never a Dragon Quest and slimes guy.
It wasn’t until Dragon Quest VIII on PS2 that I realized what the big fuss was about. You mean to tell me there’s this other RPG company in Japan, a “nega Squaresoft” if you will, that makes an RPG like Final Fantasy except it’s focused on dragons instead of crystals and the character designs are made by the guy from Dragon Ball?
Sounded too good to be true, but sure enough, when I bought a copy of the game (also, it came with a demo for Final Fantasy XII) I was amazed. Not delighted or surprised — amazed. This game embodied that feeling of warmth I hadn’t felt since Final Fantasy VI at a time when Square was experimenting with weird costume sphere systems and Disney.
When you equipped a weapon, it’s physical appearance would change and sure, you’ll say that Final Fantasy VII or even Secret of Mana on the SNES did this long before, but this was the PS2. Environments were fully modeled and could be rotated in 3D, the graphics shading made it look just like a Dragon Ball spin-off and every location on the map could be traversed on foot with different scenarios for the same areas depending on the time of day.
Flash forward to just a month ago when I visited New York on the way back from my 3rd backpacking trip through Europe and I am addicted to Dragon Quest IX. I got a used copy from Gamestop and haven’t stopped playing since.
For a game that came out 5 years ago on the Nintendo DS, it holds up very well not only in the graphics department, but in the sheer number of things to do and see. Granted, the story isn’t as good as Dragon Quest VIII in my opinion, but even on my 3DS XL I can tell this little game was pushing the boundaries of what the DS could do back then while at the same time improving on almost every aspect of the previous game.
A few weeks back I saw this trailer for the new expansion of Dragon Quest X, which is a Japan exclusive for PC and Wii U in which you play online. It’s an MMORPG.
I’ve never been able to commit to an online RPG simply because of time and subscription fees, but if I had a Wii U and the price was right, I would play it a lot. I mean, look at that trailer! Not only is it beautiful, but it highlights a lot of the activities that I used to love about Final Fantasy and that sadly aren’t there for me anymore.
Card collecting, getting a flying mount, customizing a party with many different types of characters, discovering epic weapons and equipment, seeing new areas and secrets… man, it seems like I’m describing World of Warcraft clone #43509, but look at it! IT’S SO FLUFFY!
Anyways, I haven’t even finished the campaign on DQIX (I’m caught up getting crazy dope weapons through alchemy for the final fight), but I’m told the game lives long past the main story ending, so that’s something to look forward to.
They say the closest to this classic feeling is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. My brother plays it and he seems to enjoy it, but I can’t swing the monthly subscription fee and even if I could, my laptop probably couldn’t handle it with decent graphics.
So for the time being, I’m slaying dragons and making my own weapons while I run errands in the city. Crystals and fantasies I’ll leave for when I’m done with these awesome quests.