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Important Importables: 5 Dragon Quest misconceptions debunked

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Dragon Quest is an amazing series, but it never seemed to get the kind of respect and love it deserved outside of Japan. In Japan, it’s a legend and there are stories of people lining up to buy copies of the game or skipping work or school to play it. Here, not so much. It’s a shame, considering how entertaining every adventure can be.

However, the series also suffers from a few misconceptions. People may have ideas about it that aren’t true. I know I didn’t start playing any installments until college. In my case, it was because I wasn’t a fan of Akira Toriyama’s character designs and that made me miss out on a number of great SNES, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games. I matured and looked past that though, and am glad I did. In the hopes of helping others, I’ve lumped together five Dragon Quest concerns that aren’t true in the hopes other people will do as I did and give it a chance.

Is that series even available outside Japan? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

Why yes, Dragon Quest has been released outside of Japan. Quite often. Most recently, Nintendo helped Square Enix release Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies in North America. We don’t hear as much about the series as other RPGs, but more often than not, installments do get released outside of Japan. People just have to pay attention, as they often don’t get as much press as other games. They’re considered niche. I’d say, keep an eye out when E3 2013 announcements come out, as we could hear something about the Dragon Quest VII 3DS port or maybe even Dragon Quest X for the Wii U.

If you do start looking, be ready to pay for these games. The prices don’t really drop. Also, you have to be quick about picking them up, as some installments do have a tendency to go out of print.

dragon quest vii 3dsI don’t like the character art. Everyone looks so angry! Or like they stepped out of an episode of Dragon Ball!

This is the reason I didn’t play Dragon Quest for years and I regret it. Akira Toriyama does the character designs for the series and I’m not a fan. I figured that was a big deal, and so didn’t get into the series until the DS remakes with Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen. It was then that I realized the art wasn’t really a big deal. Players aren’t staring at character portraits on end and the monster designs actually vary quite a bit. I know now it was a silly reason to avoid the series and I’ve missed out on a lot of great games because of my immaturity. You don’t want the same thing to happen to you.

I haven’t really heard much about the stories. Don’t the heroes always just save the world?

Isn’t that what RPG heroes do all the time anyway? Yes, each Dragon Quest game is a save the world epic, but each installment goes about it in a different and unique way. Dragon Quest IX involves an angel coming down to Earth to save the day. Dragon Quest IV features an interesting mechanic where each major party member gets his or her own chapter, focusing on their stories that lead them to joining up with the hero. Dragon Quest V is about the search for a legendary hero. Dragon Quest VI features two worlds, a Dream World and a Real World, which influence each other. While it’s true earlier installments didn’t feature the most robust stories, everything from Dragon Quest IV onward is actually quite deep.

I heard the characters don’t have much personality…

Yes, the protagonists tend to be silent, blank slates, and there are some installments, like Dragon Quest IX, where the party members are custom created by the player and have no personality, but that isn’t true for every game. More often than not, Dragon Quest games have well-written supporting characters with interesting personalities and sometimes even surprisingly deep backstories. Of the installments I’ve played, Dragon Quest IV, V, VI and VIII all stand out as they have a supporting cast that is often better developed than the silent lead. Dragon Quest IV is especially true, since each party member gets a whole chapter devoted to him or her, providing a background, motivation and personality for a character that will eventually be joining the hero on his quest.

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Isn’t that the one with static, turn-based battles? Boring!

This is true for early Dragon Quest installments, but Dragon Quest VII and onward actually show the opponents and party members during battles, just like any other RPG. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a good turn-based RPG every now and again.

This is especially true in the case of Dragon Quest, as it can be a pretty difficult game. You really have to think before using skills, seeing as how players can traditionally only make a proper save with a priest in a town or dungeon. Also, many of the Dragon Quest games allow players to reclass characters to make them stronger or unlock new abilities, which means plenty of level grinding to eventually end up with the optimal party.

COMING NEXT TIME: Important Importables talks about Conception: Please Have My Babies.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables raved about Monolith Soft.

Follow Jenni on Twitter for more import game updates and general fangirl enthusiasm!

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