PART TWO: JAPANESE GAMES
by: Yuji Horii (scenario, creator)
by: Wizardry, probably also Ultima
Eight to date, with a ninth on the way, and plans afoot for a tenth. There have
also been numerous side series: Dragon
Quest Monsters, Rocket Slime, Dragon
Quest Swords... and Mystery Dungeon was
originally a spinoff.
Legacy: Practically all
JRPGs (the ones that didn't ape Wizardry,
story goes that series creator Yuji Horii was directly inspired by a copy of Wizardry seen at a Mac show. When he got
back to Japan,
he began work on one of the longest-running JRPG series of all, if not THE
other long-lived series have strived to keep up with the times and update their
look and play mechanics, Dragon Quest
has remained stubbornly a relic. The fighting mechanics are still similar to
those from the original 1986 game. While the overall theme of the games has
changed, the mechanics underpinning them remain the same.
it seems to work. Dragon Quest has
remained stubbornly old-school long enough that the nostalgic urge that has
brought some of the older JRPGs back into prominence has arrived to find that DQ is still kicking it.
It doesn't get
released nearly as often as it used to, but the same guy still writes the
scenario, the same guy's in change of the music, and the same guy, Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama
himself -- who probably has so much money now that he could buy Tantegel -- still draws
the character art.
Hey, at least it's job security. The fact that the games
remain the most popular series in Japan
suggests that the basic mechanics of the series may be timeless.
Dragon Warrior III
result is that the combat, which remains simple, takes up a lesser portion of
the game's experience than the stuff around it, allowing it to slip, a little,
into the background. Until Dragon Quest VIII,
the game wasn't even 3D. DQ8 did a
lot to revive the series' moribund fortunes.
Instead of driving further towards
photo-realism as did the Final Fantasy
games, it aimed instead to replicate Toriyama's character art as much as
possible, with startling results. The series' lo-fi presentation has enabled it
to target the Nintendo DS for installment IX,
and plans are underway to produce DQX
for the Wii, a decision that surprised some observers.
for the games themselves, their use of some of the generally-abandoned features
of older games means they have managed to retain some of the strategic depth
that attended the classic computer RPGs.
Quest games still use, for instance, cursed items, gauntlet dungeons that
players must conserve resources to pass, difficult boss monsters, and a
generally upbeat atmosphere. The fact that the game can be slowly and steadily
conquered by all players, equipped only with perseverance, seems to be key to
the series' popularity in Japan.