Armor Project

Dragon Quest

, published as Dragon Warrior in North America until the 2005 release of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, is a series of role-playing games created by Yuuji Horii and published by Square Enix (formerly Enix). Installments of the series have appeared on MSX computers, Famicom/NES, Super Famicom/Super NES, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and Wii video game consoles, as well as on several models of mobile phone. As of December 19, 2007, the Dragon Quest series has sold over 43 million units worldwide. It is Square Enix's second most successful franchise and is arguably the most popular video game franchise in Japan.

Dragon Quest's North American name was changed due to a trademark conflict with the role-playing game DragonQuest, which was published by veteran wargame publisher SPI in the 1980s until the company's bankruptcy in 1982 and purchase by TSR, which then published it as an alternate line to Dungeons & Dragons until 1987. In 2003, Square Enix registered the Dragon Quest trademark in the US, making the Dragon Warrior name obsolete.

Overview

During the mid-1980s, Dragon Quest was created by Yuuji Horii, who has been the scenario director since. The series monster and character designs, as well as box art, are done by famed Dragon Ball manga artist, Akira Toriyama. All of the music for the Dragon Quest series has been composed by Koichi Sugiyama. When Horii first created Dragon Quest, most people doubted that a fantasy series with swords and dungeons instead of science fiction would become popular in Japan; but the series has become a phenomenon there.

The first six Dragon Quest games' stories are divided into two trilogies. The first three games of the series tell the story of the legendary hero known as Roto (also known as Erdrick or Loto in the American NES and GBC versions, respectively). Dragon Quest IV-VI are based around a castle in the sky called Zenithia, and are referred to as the Tenku in Japan, meaning Heaven. The main series from Dragon Quest VII on are independent of each other and stand alone.

The games themselves feature a number of religious overtones--saving the game (in later games) and reviving characters who have died is performed by clergy in churches. Bishops are often seen wandering around the overworld of Dragon Warrior Monsters and have the ability to heal. The final enemy in some of the Dragon Quest games is known as the Demon Lord. For instance, in Dragon Warrior VII, the Demon Lord, known as Orgodemir in that particular game, is the final boss, and there is also a sidequest to battle God himself.

Dragon Quest is such a cultural phenomenon in Japan that there are live-action ballets (being the first video game to inspire a ballet), musical concerts, and audio CDs based on the Dragon Quest universe. The London Philharmonic Orchestra has performed for several Dragon Quest music albums. It was the first video game series to have its music performed live by an orchestra. Since 1987, music from Dragon Quest has been performed annually in Japan in concert halls. Games in the series have traditionally been released on weekends in Japan; a common (yet possibly untrue) rumor says this is because students would commonly skip school to get the games.

Outside Japan

Dragon Quest is not nearly as successful outside Japan, having been eclipsed by Final Fantasy and other RPG series. Because of Enix America Corporation's closure in the mid 1990's, Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI were never officially released in North America. In Europe, none of the main games have seen release prior to Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. The lack of official localizations for Dragon Quest games has inspired many fan translation projects. The completed fan translation projects include Dragon Quest V and the Super Famicom remake of Dragon Quest I & II.

The first four Dragon Warrior titles suffered from substantial censorship in their North American localizations, largely in keeping with Nintendo of America's content guidelines at the time, which placed severe restrictions on religious iconography and mature content. Both graphics and text were edited, replacing coffins with ghosts, crosses with five-point stars, and "Priest" with "Healer," to name but a few. The "puff-puff massage" scenario was also taken out of the first two games. However, the graphics, sound and menus of Dragon Warrior and Dragon Warrior II were given an upgrade for American release. When these games were remade for the Game Boy Color, many of these censorships were taken out. Since Dragon Warrior VII, the games have been kept similar to their original versions when going through localization.

Only three titles in the series have been released in Europe. The first was Dragon Warrior Monsters published by Eidos Interactive; the second was Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, marketed as Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King, and the third was Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen, marketed as just Dragon Quest: Chapters of the Chosen. However, the series is one of Square Enix's flagship titles, and it is currently planning to release there upcoming installments in the series outside Japan. With the merger of Square with Enix in 2003, the number of places that Dragon Quest games are released has greatly increased.

On May 20, 2008, Square Enix announced localizations of the Nintendo DS remakes of Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI, known collectively as the Zenithia trilogy, with the opening of the North American website. On the following day a press release from Square Enix confirmed that the games will be released in Europe. With this announcement, all the main games in the Dragon Quest series will now have seen release outside Japan at least once. In Europe, the series installments are not numbered.

Common elements

Gameplay

The Dragon Quest system is similar to the basis of the Ultima and Wizardry video game systems. The game player's party walks into a town and buys weapons, armor, and items in order to defeat monsters easily. When the player's party is out of the town, the party is vulnerable to random monster attacks. When players encounter monsters, they have several options from which to choose through menus. The player can attack and defeat the enemy with weapons, magic, or items. The player can also attempt to run away from the fight. However, this option is not available during a boss battle. After a player wins a battle by defeating all the monsters, the player's party members gain experience points (EXP) in order to gain new levels. When a certain character gains a new level, the stats of the character are upgraded.

When the player's party dies in battle, the group will lose half of their gold and the leader of the party warps back to the nearest church. The leader then needs to pay a priest to revive his/her party members. More recent games in the series have banks in many towns that allow the player to store gold, which prevents it from being lost when the party dies.

To save one's progress, the player must visit a Church (also known as a House of Healing in early North American versions) and talk to a priest or nun. In early versions of Dragon Quest, the player must visit a king in order to save his or her progress (this does not include the first two Dragon Quest titles for the Famicom, which use a password system).

Dragon Warrior III, Dragon Quest VI, and Dragon Warrior VII feature several classes to choose for the party members. Each of these installments possesses its own particular set of classes, typical classes include the Cleric / Priest / Pilgrim, Fighter, Hero, Jester / Goof-Off, Thief, Warrior / Soldier and Wizard / Mage. Dragon Quest VI includes two monster classes, and Dragon Warrior VII includes dozens.

The typical Dragon Quest plot involves a certain villain to be defeated at the end of the game, usually one who threatens the world in some way. However, the plotline often consists of smaller stories involving different NPC's the player meets as the adventure goes on.

Monsters

The series features several recurring monsters, such as Slimes, Drackies, Shadows, Mummies, Trick Bags, and Dragons. Many of the monsters have been designed by Akira Toriyama. Many of the Dragon Quest monsters have been featured in the Dragon Quest Monsters series of games, which allows the player to catch monsters and use them in battle. This idea is also used in Dragon Quest V, although humans fight in battle as well.

The official mascot of the Dragon Quest series is the Slime. A Slime is a small blob with a face, shaped like water droplet. It has appeared in every Dragon Quest game and it is usually one of the first monsters the player encounters. The Slime's popularity has netted it two spin-offs: Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. They also make a significant showing in the Japanese manga and two-episode anime Dragon Half.

In 1989, a manga was published by Enix called Dragon Quest Monster Story, which had nothing to do with Dragon Quest Monsters. This book featured short stories about various Dragon Quest monsters and came with a poster that featured the "families" of monsters.

Recurring themes

Loto/Erdrick

Erdrick, also known as Roto in Japan or Loto in the North American localization of the Game Boy Color remakes of the first three games, is a legendary hero from the Dragon Quest series. The first three Dragon Quest games make up the "Erdrick trilogy," which are all connected to the legend of Erdrick. He is known in the game as the hero who freed Alefgard from darkness. The name Erdrick was first mentioned in the English localization, Dragon Warrior in which the player is referred to as Erdrick's descendent. Erdrick’s legend was completed with the 1991 release of Dragon Warrior III.

In Dragon Warrior, Erdrick was the ancestor of the Hero. The Hero follows in the footsteps of Erdrick to ultimately reach the Dragonlord's Castle and confront the Dragonlord. In Dragon Warrior II, the heroes are descendants of Erdrick, and also of the Hero from Dragon Warrior. They explore the expanded world of Torland, including Alefgard as seen in the first game. At the end of Dragon Warrior III, the King of Alefgard bestows upon the Hero “the Order of Erdrick”, the country’s highest honor reserved only for true heroes. While this implies Erdrick is merely a title, it isn't possible to name the Hero Erdrick at the beginning of Dragon Warrior III. In Dragon Warrior III, the origins of the hero Erdrick are revealed; therefore, the chronological order of the first three games is Dragon Warrior III, Dragon Warrior I, and then Dragon Warrior II. This chronology is further evidenced in the naming of the hero's weapon, armor and shield. After the events of Dragon Warrior III, the hero's armaments are renamed as the Erdrick (or Loto) Sword and Armor in Dragon Warrior I and Dragon Warrior II.

The Hero, originally known as Erdrick to many English-speaking players, is also known by two other names. In the original Japanese language games (Dragon Quest), Erdrick is known exclusively by the name Roto, which is also used by some import gamers. Another romanization of the name is Loto, which was used in place of Erdrick when Enix America, Inc. re-released Dragon Warrior I, Dragon Warrior II, and Dragon Warrior III on the Game Boy Color. This was most likely used because the Japanese character (ロ) is not strictly an R or an L sound, but lies somewhere in between. Therefore it is properly transliterated either way.

In the original Final Fantasy, Square parodies Dragon Warrior by displaying a grave for Erdrick in the town of Elfland. In retaliation, Enix hid a Cid grave in Dragon Quest III. A parody of Erdrick's sword is wielded by Gilgamesh in Final Fantasy XII: it is referred to as the "Wyrmhero Blade" (In the Japanese version, it is called "Tolo Sword").

Zenithia

Zenithia, also called Zenith Castle or simply Zenith, is the name of a fictional sky castle from the series. The first appearance is in Dragon Warrior IV, and the castle is one of several elements from Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI which suggest the three games are linked as a trilogy; this group is often called the Tenkū (Japanese for Heaven), or the Tenkū no Shiro (Castle in the Sky) trilogy. Yuuji Horii explained that the trilogy was never intended: "Each Dragon Quest title represents a fresh start and a new story, so I don't see too much of a connection between the games in the series. I guess it could be said that the imagination of players has brought the titles together in a certain fashion."

In Dragon Warrior IV, Zenithia can be accessed by climbing the Tower near Gottside (Azimuth in the DQ4DS release), which goes as far up to the sky. It is directly above the entrance to the world of darkness. In Dragon Quest V, Zenithia has fallen into a lake south of Elheaven. This happened when the Golden Orb, half of a set of magical orbs that supported the castle in the sky, fell from its place. Once recovered and returned to Master Dragon, Zenithia will rise again. This time, the castle can move freely around the sky. In Dragon Quest VI, Zenith Castle is sealed away by Demon Lord Durran, and a giant hole is left behind in its place in the Dream World. After the Dream World returns to its natural state, Zenith Castle is the only part of it that can still be seen floating above the real world. A castle in the Dragon Warrior III remakes for Super Famicom/Game Boy Color is also called Zenith, though the layout differs from the castle from the Tenku series.

Square Enix has released the Celestial Sword (the Zenithian Sword) and Sword of Ramias as part of their Dragon Quest Legend Items series - miniature collectible toy replicas of artifacts from the Dragon Quest universe.

Games

Main series

  • Dragon WarriorNES & MSX (1986) (As Dragon Warrior (1989) in North America)
    • Originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest
    • Remade for the Super Famicom in Japan 1993 as Dragon Quest I & II and for Game Boy Color in Japan in 1999 and in 2000 in North America as Dragon Warrior I & II (Dragon Quest I & II in Japan).
    • Released for Satellaview (1998) and as a cellular phone game (2004) in Japan.
  • Dragon Warrior IINES & MSX (1987) (1990 in North America)
    • Originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest II Akuryo no Kamigami which translates to "Dragon Quest II Pantheon of Evil Spirits."
    • Remade for the Super Famicom in Japan in 1993 as Dragon Quest I & II and for Game Boy Color in Japan in 1999 and in North America as Dragon Warrior I & II in 2000.
    • Scheduled for release in 2008 as a cellular phone game.
  • Dragon Warrior IIINES (1988) (1991 in North America)
    • Originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest III Soshite Densetsu e... which translates to "Dragon Quest III And Into the Legend..."
    • Remade for the Super Famicom in Japan only (1996) and the Game Boy Color in Japan and US (2000).
  • Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the ChosenNES (1990) (1992 in North America as Dragon Warrior IV)
    • Originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest IV Michibikareshi Monotachi which translates to "Dragon Quest IV The Guided Ones"
    • Remade for the PlayStation in Japan (2001).
    • Remade for the Nintendo DS. Released in Japan on November 22, 2007. Released in North America on September 16, 2008. Released in Europe in September 2008 one week before the US release.
    • European version to be released under the name Dragon Quest: The Chapters of the Chosen.
  • Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly BrideSuper Famicom (1992)
    • Originally only released in Japan as Dragon Quest V Tenkū no Hanayome which translates to "Dragon Quest V Bride of Heaven"
    • Remade for the PlayStation 2 (2004) in Japan.
    • Remade for the Nintendo DS. Released in Japan on July 17, 2008. Planned for future release in North America and Europe.
    • European version to be released under the name Dragon Quest: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride.
  • Dragon Quest VI: Realms of ReverieSuper Famicom (1995)
    • Originally only released in Japan as Dragon Quest VI Maboroshi no Daichi which translated to "Dragon Quest VI Land of Illusion"
    • Remake for the Nintendo DS in development. Planned for future releases in Japan, North America, and Europe.
    • European version to be released under the name Dragon Quest: Realms of Reverie.
  • Dragon Warrior VIIPlayStation (2000) (2001 in North America)
    • Originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest VII Eden no Senshi-tachi which translates to "Dragon Quest VII Warriors of Eden"
  • Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed KingPlayStation 2 (2004) (2005 in North America, 2006 in Europe)
    • Originally released in Japan as Dragon Quest VIII Sora to Umi to Daichi to Norowareshi Himegimi which translates to "Dragon Quest VIII The Sky, the Ocean, the Earth, and the Cursed Princess"
    • Released in PAL regions as Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King.
  • Dragon Quest IX Hoshizora no Mamoribito
    • Subtitle translates to "Defenders of the Starry Sky"
    • In development for the Nintendo DS handheld system.

At a press conference in Japan celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dragon Quest, Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest IX is in development for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming system. The full title is reported to be Dragon Quest IX: Defenders of the Sky (or Protectors of the Starry Sky, depending on translation), and is the next main installment in the series by Level-5, not a spin-off or side quest. This will be the first installment of the series that will be exclusive to a handheld system rather than a home console. Notably, this would have also been the first installment to feature real-time combat as well as four player co-op over wi-fi, but it was later reported that the system had been changed back to a turn based format.

Spin-offs

The franchise also includes several spin-off series, including Dragon Quest Monsters and Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest, as well as arcade games like the Japanese game Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road. Several games in both the Mystery Dungeon and Itadaki Street series have characters from the Dragon Quest games.

In 1993, Chunsoft created a Super Famicom game for Torneko, originally known as simply Taloon to American gamers, a fictional character first appearing in Dragon Warrior IV. The game, titled Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon which loosely translates to Torneko's Great Adventure: Mysterious Dungeon, was a roguelike which continued Torneko's story from Dragon Quest IV, where he wished to make his store grow even further by venturing into mysterious dungeons and getting more items for stock. It was very successful, both on namesake and quality.

A direct sequel to Torneko no Daibouken came out in Japan and the United States in 2000 called Torneko: The Last Hope (Torneko no Daibouken 2 in Japan). This game was very similar to the first, but it is considered much easier by comparison. It was received well enough in Japan to warrant a third direct sequel, on the PlayStation 2, titled Torneko no Daibouken: Fushigi no Dungeon 3. Both the second and third Torneko games have been ported to the Game Boy Advance.

Following the success of Torneko, many other Fushigi no Dungeon games were published by various companies (most of which developed by Chunsoft), among the best known are Chocobo no Fushigina Dungeon and Nightmare of Druaga: Mysterious Dungeon. The most recent additions to the genre are Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and Dragon Quest Yangus.

A card-based arcade game, known as Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road and developed by Level-5, was released exclusively in Japan.

Finally, two spin-offs are played by physically swinging a controller using it as a sword to slash enemies among other things. Kenshin Dragon Quest is a stand alone game which comes with the a toy sword as the controller, and a toy shield containing the game's hardware. Dragon Quest Swords is an exclusive Wii title which uses the motion sensing abilities of the Wii Remote similarly.

Development

Yuuji Horii, Akira Toriyama, and Koichi Sugiyama are the three most well known creators of the Dragon Quest series. Each of them has worked on each of the main games and are treated as celebrities in Japan.

In 1982, Enix sponsored a national video game programming contest, which brought much of the Dragon Quest team together, including Yuuji Horii. The prize of the competition was a trip to America, and a visit to AppleFest '83 in San Francisco, where Horii discovered Wizardry. Koichi Nakamura and Yukinobu Chida, two other winners of the contest, along with Horii, released The Portopia Serial Murder Case for the Famicom for Enix. Sugiyama, already famous for jingles and pop songs, impressed with the group's work, sent a postcard to Enix, commenting on the software. In response, Enix asked him to write music for some of their games. The group then decided to make a console role-playing game, using a combination of Wizardry and Ultima. Akira Toriyama, who knew Horii through Shonen Jump, was commissioned to illustrate the characters and monsters to separate the game from other RPGs of the time and the Dragon Quest "team" was born.

Dragon Quest games have been developed by Chunsoft, Heartbeat, Artepiazza, and starting with Dragon Quest VIII, Level-5. Horii's own company, Armor Project, is in charge of the Dragon Quest games, which were published by Enix and now Square Enix. While Toriyama is the series' character designer, the primary designs are first conceived by Horii, before being handed to Toriyama to re-draw under Horii's supervision.

Reception

Dragon Quest is often regarded as the most popular video game series in Japan. All of the games in the main series as well as many spin-off games have sold over a million copies, some even selling over four million, and sell very quickly. For instance, the remake of Dragon Quest V sold 1.3 million copies in Japan in its first two days, which is a very high number for a remake. In 2006, Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu readers voted on the hundred best video games of all time. Dragon Quest III came in third, Dragon Quest VIII came in fourth, Dragon Quest VII came in ninth, Dragon Quest V came in eleventh, Dragon Quest IV came in fourteenth, Dragon Quest II came in seventeenth, Dragon Quest came in thirtieth, and Dragon Quest VI came in thirty-fourth.

Although the series is a phenomenon in Japan, the games never garnered as much attention in North America. Although the first four games to come to America generally received good reviews, it was not until Dragon Warrior VII was released did Dragon Quest become critically acclaimed there. One of the main aspects of the series that critics point out, either positively or negatively, is that the series "never strays from its classic roots". Unlike other modern, complex RPGs, Dragon Quest retains the simple gameplay from the first game, which many critics find refreshing and nostalgic. Other critics feel differently about the series, however, and claim that the story, characters, and gameplay have become boring and redundant over the years.

The original Dragon Quest game is often claimed to be the birth of the console role-playing game, despite the fact that many others consider Final Fantasy "more important." Dragon Warrior was listed on GameSpot's list of the 15 most influential games of all time, calling it the "most influential role-playing game of all time" and stated that nearly all RPGs today have roots in its gameplay.

The Dragon Quest series was recognized by Guinness World Records with six world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include, "Best Selling Role Playing Game on the Super Famicon", "Fastest Selling Game in Japan", and "First Video Game Series to Inspire a Ballet".

Media

Manga and anime

Dragon Quest e no Michi

Dragon Quest e no Michi (The Road to Dragon Quest) is a manga book based on the creators of Dragon Quest published by Enix. The one volume manga was produced by Ishimori Productions, a company famous for creating manga based on famous people and businesses. Released in 1990, the manga stars Yujii Hori, Koichi Nakamura (main programmer), Koichi Sugiyama, Akira Toriyama, and Yukinobu Chida (producer) and involves the creation of the series. The story shows that Horii and Yuji originally used the full-screen map of Ultima and the battle and stats oriented Wizardry screen to create the gameplay.

Soundtracks

Several albums of Dragon Quest music has been released since the original game was made, the first coming out in 1986, based on Dragon Quest's music. Each of the Dragon Quest soundtracks have been composed and arranged by Koichi Sugiyama, who has also composed the music for the games. Since then, an album with the game's title and "Symphonic Suite" has been released for each game in the main series. Aside from the main series of soundtracks, other compilations of Dragon Quest music have been made, such as Dragon Quest Game Music Super Collection Vol. 1.

Many of the soundtracks songs are performed by the London Philharmonic, such as Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest Complete CD-Box. With a few of the soundtracks, a second disc with the original game music is included, like with the original Dragon Quest VI soundtrack.

In 2003, SME Visual Works released Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest Complete CD-Box, a box set featuring music from the first seven Dragon Quest games. Each of the seven discs is broken up by where the music is played in the games. Disc one, for example, has the opening overture song from each of the Dragon Quest games, whereas disc six features all the battle songs.

Notes

External links

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