It's one of the biggest and longest-running RPG series in the world. Imagine a series that captured the hearts of an entire country of gamers before finding its audience in the US. It's a game that even put the mighty Final Fantasy on the ropes. We are, of course, talking about Dragon Quest.
With a lovable design, endearing characters, and stories that feed our love of classic fantasy, its no wonder people still take up the sword of the Dragon Warrior. Want to know some secrets about this charming series? Here are 10 fantastic facts about the Dragon Quest games.
10 It's Final Fantasy's Biggest Competition and Influence
The Final Fantasy series might have defined the genre, but the Dragon Quest series laid the foundation. The classic, turn-based JRPG style can be traced back to games like the Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior titles. The blooming overworld, a menagerie of monsters, and the sense of adventure made it to the home console through this game. To this day, the two series remain rivals of their genres.
Looking at the original Dragon Warrior, you can see similar elements with games like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and even some Zelda-ish notes. Though later games became more story focused and less formulaic, they wouldn't exist without this title.
9 It Took Inspiration from Western Fantasy
When you think of classic JRPGs, what images come to mind? Do you see spiky-haired dudes with swords of bombastic proportions, one-winged angels, or a team of ragtag renegades against an evil corporation? Not with Dragon Quest. Before JRPGs became somewhat of a stereotype, they drew from classic elements.
Dragon Quest's design was another big move for RPGs. It took inspiration from more common fantasy tropes like knights, castles, dragons, wizards, and other things one might associate with something out of Tolkien. In an age where RPGs were more text than adventure, this was a milestone in the genre.
8 Inspired By Wizardry and Ultima
Dragon Quest developers not only took inspiration from western fantasy tropes but western RPG games as well. The most prominent inspirations came from RPG games on the home computer, namely games like Wizardry and Ultima.
Programmer Koichi Nakamura once stated that he wanted to make a game like Wizardry, due to its popularity. Yuji Hori, the designer, admitted to taking elements from Ultima, namely the concept of the overworld. Both games' touch can be felt in the early titles, and many of their elements continue to be seen in other turn-based RPGs today.
7 You Can Take an Evil Path in the Original
Long before game designers and writers considered making morality systems commonplace, Dragon Quest gave players an opportunity to choose between good and evil when confronting the evil Dragon Lord. Do they fight for right and slay the evil dragon, or do they join him on the path of evil?
If the player chooses to join him, the Hero is put to sleep and the game ends. This would later be changed for the Gameboy version to the character waking from a nightmare, but the choice remained. Though it might seem minor by today's moral gaming choices, this was an immersive feature not seen in many games at the time.
6 Designed by the Creator of Dragon Ball
One of the game's biggest features is the cute and fun character design provided by the talented Akira Toriyama, the creator of the popular manga and anime series, Dragon Ball. The influence of Toriyama's manga-style carried over both to the games and even to the manga and anime.
Notes of Goku can be seen in Erdrick from DQIII and characters from the series have even been featured as cameos in the manga. Toriyama's designs continue to thrive in the series, but his most famous contribution is without a doubt the famous Dragon Quest Slime.
5 Toriyama Was a Big Fan
Toriyama had quite a connection to the games as well as being the artist. He is also reportedly quite the fan of the originals. So much so, in fact, he played so much that it began to interfere with his work.
Toriyama became so addicted to the first Dragon Quest game that his wife supposedly threatened to trash his console unless he got back to work. Though we can't attest the amount of truth to this, it does bring a smile to our face how involved someone can be with a project like this series.
4 Toriyama Also Designed Chrono Trigger
Along with the sensational series that is Dragon Quest, Akira Toriyama is also responsible for arguably the most famous and beloved JRPG of all time, Chrono Trigger. Chrono, Magus, Robo, and all the party were all designed by Toriyama. Admit it, there's definitely some similarity between Chrono and Goku.
Chrono Trigger and Dragon Quest do share some fantasy elements, as well as similar battle menu styles. Though the latter is more traditional in terms of gameplay, its influence can still be felt in this famous addition to the genre. Now all we need is a crossover between the two. It worked for Dynasty Warriors and Zelda.
3 Psyching Up is Going Super Sayan
Last Toriyama note, we promise. It's hard to talk about the creator of the Dragon Ball series without talking about some Super Sayans. As surprising as it may seem, the game series actually has its own version of going Super Sayan, it's called "Psyching Up."
This is perhaps most prominent in Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. If Psyched Up long enough, the characters will essentially go Super Sayan and become supercharged. The Hero character even gets spiked Sayan hair at max power. Remember, kids, there's a difference between wink to the audience and pointing a finger.
2 Your Party Order Changes Gameplay in Dragon Quest IV
Those of you may know this if you've played Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen, but those newcomers to the series might have missed it on their first playthrough. The game gives you a large cast of party members to play with, but certain situations require different combinations to successfully navigate.
Though it might take a few tries to figure out this feature, the right party of characters can be the difference between victory and defeat for many encounters. We suggest following a guide or keeping a list to help make the journey more prosperous.
1 The Dragon Quest Law
How many games become so tremendously popular that they inspire their own urban legends? Let's talk about the legendary "Dragon Quest Law." There is an urban legend that dictates that the Dragon Quest series of games has become so popular in Japan that the company has had to agree to release the game on a weekend to prevent children from skipping school.
Though this is, of course, false, there is a slight nugget of truth. Supposedly, a group of students were caught for truancy upon the release of Dragon Quest III, but the idea that a game could be that popular truly boggles the mind. This is one of those rare gems we kind of wish was true.