Why Does Japan Love Dragon Quest?

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In yet another fascinating Iwata Asks feature (this time in video form), the Nintendo president discusses the appeal of Dragon Quest IX with series creator, Yuji Horii, and Square Enix producer, Ryutaro Ichimura. Among the first topics brought to the table was the popularity of the series in Japan and the question of why Dragon Quest games enjoy the recognition they do.


“I get the feeling individuals enjoy using it as a communication tool,” Horii theorized, in response to the question.


“Same here,” Ichimura agreed. “I think they enjoy using it as something to talk about. It may be the same as some TV programs as well. A good topic that everyone has in common.”


Ichimura continued, recalling his own childhood experiences with the series: “You go to school, and you’re asked, ‘How many level-ups did you make yesterday?’ or ‘How far did you get?’ The Dragon Quest topic came up time and time again. And when a new Dragon Quest was introduced, we’d all get excited, and we’d all get a bit lively, and it would be like, ‘We get to talk about it again!’ That’s what it seems like, looking back.”


“After all, human beings love other human beings,” Horii offered. “They want to use videogames as a means to interact, and Dragon Quest gives us lots of material to facilitate that, so I think that may be why it’s popular. Whether it’s the Tag Mode or the multiplayer mode or whatever the topic is.”


“This time, we’ve made it more direct by putting in the communication feature,” Ichimura explained. “It isn’t just a conversation topic now; it’s a direct connection. We’ve prepared several chances for them and that’s a means of communication we’ve taken one step further.”


By “means of communication,” Ichimura is referring to the game’s ingenious Tag Mode feature. You can read further about the appeal of Dragon Quest IX’s Tag Mode and the fascinating social phenomenon it has sparked in Japan here.

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.