Let's talk Dragon Quest - http://www.mmcafe.com/ Forums


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karasu
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"Let's talk Dragon Quest" , posted Fri 31 Jul 07:41post reply

Like I was saying in the random games thread, I've been doing a bit of reading about Dragon Quest just now, primarily about the very first one, and how the perfect storm of Yuji Horii, Koichi Nakamura, Akira Toriyama, and Koichi Sugiyama created what ended up being one of the earliest Japanese templates for decades worth of console RPGs. But it's struck me that while I've piled up a stack of DQ games, including the remakes of IV and V for the DS, VIII for the PS2, and IX for the DS, and Ive played through reasonable portions of each, I've never actually played one of them to completion.

That makes me a little bit sad, honestly, since it's such an influential series, and since it's the RPG series of choice for a whole bunch of folks, instead of the Final Fantasy series.

So what does everyone here at the Cafe think? my first impulse is to try and wait for the (maybe) inevitable US localization of VIII for the 3DS, or maybe have another go at IX. If someone thinks I should try one of the real antiques for the Famicom, I'm willing to give it a go through emulation, but I suspect that just like trying to play the original versions of Final Fantasy I-III, I would be in for a pretty ancient-feeling experience.

Or, should I just wait for XI, and see what the deal is with why you can choose to play in either 2D or 3D.





You have to carefully reproduce the world of "Castlevania" in the solemn atmosphere.

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Maou
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"Re(1):Let's talk Dragon Quest" , posted Fri 31 Jul 07:53post reply

quote:
Like I was saying in the random games thread, I've been doing a bit of reading about Dragon Quest just now, primarily about the very first one, and how the perfect storm of Yuji Horii, Koichi Nakamura, Akira Toriyama, and Koichi Sugiyama created what ended up being one of the earliest Japanese templates for decades worth of console RPGs. But it's struck me that while I've piled up a stack of DQ games, including the remakes of IV and V for the DS, VIII for the PS2, and IX for the DS, and Ive played through reasonable portions of each, I've never actually played one of them to completion.

That makes me a little bit sad, honestly, since it's such an influential series, and since it's the RPG series of choice for a whole bunch of folks, instead of the Final Fantasy series.

So what does everyone here at the Cafe think? my first impulse is to try and wait for the (maybe) inevitable US localization of VIII for the 3DS, or maybe have another go at IX. If someone thinks I should try one of the real antiques for the Famicom, I'm willing to give it a go through emulation, but I suspect that just like trying to play the original versions of Final Fantasy I-III, I would be in for a pretty ancient-feeling experience.

Or, should I just wait for XI, and see what the deal is with why you can choose to play in either 2D or 3D.

Just like some of us grew up obsessed with Capcom to the deteriment of SNK (hello!), so too did perfectly reasonable people stick entirely to Final Fantasy at the expense of Dragon Quest, the latter of which became ever-easier to ignore once VII's huge delays threw off the FF/DQ parallel release schedule. This was pretty fatal for me, since I really only came into RPGs towards the end of the Super Famicom's life, and the sad release of only a single, ugly entry of DQ on PS1 came at just the right time to ensure that I continued ignoring Enix's output.

The thing is, I feel really bad about it, especially because I just know I would love Dragon Quest, especially the SFC ones I skipped, based on how much I loved the very DQ-style storywriting in evidence in Chrono Trigger under Horii's co-direction. I think these articles by Tim Rogers and Jeremy Parish did a fine job of capturing why I long to play V's earnest, human tale. Given how awful Square-Enix and certainly Final Fantasy are now in the post-merger days, Horii appears to have done a remarkable job in keeping DQ acting like itself, which I admire.

I actually own the DS version of DQIV, a foolish effort to get into the series when simply playing the SFC version would have been far more effective...I really don't like 2.5D. Maybe I would have already finished V by now if I'd bought the cart...





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karasu
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"Re(2):Let's talk Dragon Quest" , posted Fri 31 Jul 08:12post reply

quote:
Just like some of us grew up obsessed with Capcom to the deteriment of SNK (hello!), so too did perfectly reasonable people stick entirely to Final Fantasy at the expense of Dragon Quest, the latter of which became ever-easier to ignore once VII's huge delays threw off the FF/DQ parallel release schedule. This was pretty fatal for me, since I really only came into RPGs towards the end of the Super Famicom's life, and the sad release of only a single, ugly entry of DQ on PS1 came at just the right time to ensure that I continued ignoring Enix's output.

The thing is, I feel really bad about it, especially because I just know I would love Dragon Quest, especially the SFC ones I skipped, based on how much I loved the very DQ-style storywriting in evidence in Chrono Trigger under Horii's co-direction. I think these articles by Tim Rogers and Jeremy Parish did a fine job of capturing why I long to play V's earnest, human tale. Given how awful Square-Enix and certainly Final Fantasy are now in the post-merger days, Horii appears to have done a remarkable job in keeping DQ acting like itself, which I admire.

I actually own the DS version of DQIV, a foolish effort to get into the series when simply playing the SFC version would have been far more effective...I really don't like 2.5D. Maybe I would have already finished V by now if I'd bought the cart...

Nintendo and Enix's shoddy handling of western releases certainly ensured that Dragon Quest/Warrior was almost ignored by US audiences in the NES era. Which is why I was shocked that IV-VI were localized. Honestly, I grew up ignoring most RPGs, which is odd because I was also a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons. I never really got the console RPG until (like most people who play console RPGs) Final Fantasy II/IV.

In any event, I feel like I certainly should like Dragon Quest, since like you point out it's a series that's stayed true to its roots a little more than Final Fantasy-- something that I'm guessing has a bit to do with Toriyama's presence as designer.





You have to carefully reproduce the world of "Castlevania" in the solemn atmosphere.

Maou
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"Re(3):Let's talk Dragon Quest" , posted Fri 31 Jul 08:21post reply

Well, you can be forgiven (though I can't) for ignoring the golden age of DQ V because the SFC versions never were translated---Enix actually closed up shop abroad, as I recall. It's only with the DS versions that it made it internationally again. But didn't they do something crazy like...not translate DQ X, or something?!

As for why DQ still feels like DQ: part of it is deceptively simple: it's because the people who created it are still around! Horii is still at Square-Enix, whereas Square lopped off its Sakaguchi-shaped head after Spirits Within, leaving the series destined for garbage ever since. The power of a unifying director/producor can't be overstated...think of the grace of FF X's story, and then throw up when you read about the crimes perpetrated even on the terrible X-2 director's story by the X-2.5 "novel" (and I use the term very charitably).

Maybe the core differences of DQ and FF also made the former to last the test of time. By consciously eschewing the elaborate plots and complexity of FF, it remained free of bloat and self-important-yet-childish bunk that has corrupted the series since Sakaguchi left.





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"Re(4):Let's talk Dragon Quest" , posted Fri 31 Jul 10:32:post reply

quote:
Well, you can be forgiven (though I can't) for ignoring the golden age of DQ V because the SFC versions never were translated---Enix actually closed up shop abroad, as I recall. It's only with the DS versions that it made it internationally again. But didn't they do something crazy like...not translate DQ X, or something?!

As for why DQ still feels like DQ: part of it is deceptively simple: it's because the people who created it are still around! Horii is still at Square-Enix, whereas Square lopped off its Sakaguchi-shaped head after Spirits Within, leaving the series destined for garbage ever since. The power of a unifying director/producor can't be overstated...think of the grace of FF X's story, and then throw up when you read about the crimes perpetrated even on the terrible X-2 director's story by the X-2.5 "novel" (and I use the term very charitably).

Maybe the core differences of DQ and FF also made the former to last the test of time. By consciously eschewing the elaborate plots and complexity of FF, it remained free of bloat and self-important-yet-childish bunk that has corrupted the series since Sakaguchi left.



The biggest problem with DQ for me now is that it's a game that demands a LOT of time. The grind is absolutely real: you will enter a new area and how far you can go is a function of your character's level and/or your luck with the Run command. I beat Dragon Warrior (DQ1 NES version) multiple times like 2 decades ago, but I don't think I could stomach going through it now. No matter what anybody says about the "experience of growing stronger over the course of the game through", the doing which grants this experience is still invariant.

I think about how Xenoblade has taken me like 100 hrs, and I haven't even done any concerted grinding in it for the sake of beating... well, anything. Xenoblade is already at about the limit of how long I'm willing to play a game for a single run of, and the later DQs are surely longer than that.

As time has progressed, have RPG stories become more or less bildungsroman-y? In the beginning borrowing from the epic tales of fantasy, they were by and large all about slaying the dragon and saving the world (which hasn't changed so much). DQ1 was about saving the world, but "friends" were not at all in the equation. Ultima Exodus let you roll new party members all the time, though they never spoke. Final Fantasy 1 had generic party members, but you were stuck with them for the whole game. A huge stack of JRPGs are full of shonen manga tropes about needing friends, trusting your friends, standing up for what is right, etc. Hell, Xenoblade's one explicitly stated refrain is telling your friends what's wrong. They say this over and over and over again, which is an honestly good lesson for youth to learn, but is a pointedly positive-thing-for-youth-to-learn. The core ideas of bildungsroman lend themselves very well to RPGs, since RPGs are frequently about growing a character's power and exploring the world, and they can strongly appeal to an audience that has time to play them.

I guess what I'm really saying is that in the way that Itoi wrote the Mother games, I'd be really interested in seeing an RPG written by Murakami. Itoi's experience with medias outside of pure prose and experience in formats that demand an extreme economy of language certainly helped him, though.


EDIT2: Murakami would probably write a bildungsroman for his RPG script, though, just to cosmically spite me.





[this message was edited by Spoon on Fri 31 Jul 11:35]

Maou
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"Re(5):Let's talk Dragon Quest" , posted Fri 31 Jul 14:13:post reply

quote:
I guess what I'm really saying is that in the way that Itoi wrote the Mother games, I'd be really interested in seeing an RPG written by Murakami.
His superior early works, Sputnik Sweetheart and A Wild Sheep Chase, may secretly be RPGs, but all with gloomy FFX-style endings. (Sputnik Sweetheart may have an X-2 ending, if you believe the last chapter.)
quote:
Itoi's experience with medias outside of pure prose and experience in formats that demand an extreme economy of language certainly helped him, though.
Ironically, Murakami would have benefitted from this, too: "everyday dialogue" is by far the weakest aspect of his writing and especially of late, as you can see by the terrible conversations in Colorless Tazaki Tsukuru (maybe in translated versions they improved it, but I doubt it). His forte, clipped, Hemingway-esque dialogue, would work marvelously in data-limited Murakami RPG: 8-bit Noir Sheep Chase.

On-topic (?), if you grabbed him when in a good mood, Murakami could probably write a peppy series of Dragon Quest townspeople conversations. Actually, I'm pretty sure that the delightfully inane Q&A site he ran last year (soon to be a book) is exquisite townspeople dialogue.





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Fri 31 Jul 14:27]

karasu
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"Re(6):Let's talk Dragon Quest" , posted Tue 4 Aug 02:32post reply

quote:

On-topic (?), if you grabbed him when in a good mood, Murakami could probably write a peppy series of Dragon Quest townspeople conversations. Actually, I'm pretty sure that the delightfully inane Q&A site he ran last year (soon to be a book) is exquisite townspeople dialogue.


Murakami would make a fantastic game scenario writer. I'm honestly shocked that no indie game maker has adapted his work for some sort of unofficial game or other. At least not that I know of!

quote:
The biggest problem with DQ for me now is that it's a game that demands a LOT of time. The grind is absolutely real: you will enter a new area and how far you can go is a function of your character's level and/or your luck with the Run command. I beat Dragon Warrior (DQ1 NES version) multiple times like 2 decades ago, but I don't think I could stomach going through it now. No matter what anybody says about the "experience of growing stronger over the course of the game through", the doing which grants this experience is still invariant.

It's certainly true that grinding is huge part of livin' the Dragon Quest life, and I'm a little divided about it. After last week's talk, I spent my weekend free time starting out Dragon Quest V on the DS, and a huge part of that time was spent grinding. I've always seen it as a necessary evil in RPGs, and any attempt to remedy the problem runs into issues like making the game too easy or losing that satisfying sense of leveling up. Even fantastic tuning doesn't address the problem with complete certainly, since what makes it 'easy enough' for me might make it too easy or not easy enough for somebody else. Every bit of DQ's language is telling you "it's okay to get beaten". Just lick your wounds, try and buy some better equipment, and try again.

Boy, though, the writing is pretty incredible, especially when compared to the writing in something like modern Final Fantasy games, where it's hard to find anything great about all the clueless prettyboys. And this is just in the first dozen hours or so! So far, I'm really loving it.

Something else that also strikes me is how much money Square Enix spent on the US localizations of DQIV, V and IX on the DS (I don't have VI, but I'm guessing it's the same). The manuals are thick and in color-- COLOR! In a US DS manual! I'm not used to such extravagance outside of Japanese versions of games. It's hard to imagine how the series has fallen from those times to now, where Theatrhythm DQ doesn't even rate consideration for a US release and, prior to its official announcement, everybody wondered if DQXI would rate a US release.





You have to carefully reproduce the world of "Castlevania" in the solemn atmosphere.