Nintendo DS

Why Is Dragon Quest A Turn-Based Series?

0 Dragon Quest IX wasn’t always a turn-based game. At one point, Level 5 were developing DQIX as an action RPG, until development was rebooted under the instructions of publisher, Square Enix.


In a discussion with series creator, Yuji Horii, Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, pointed out that Dragon Quest games have traditionally stuck to their turn-based roots.


“With role-playing games, back then, most of them were turn-based games,” said Iwata, possibly referring to the days of the Famicom and Super Famicom. “But that’s not really the case these days. Not that I agree, but there are some people out there who think that turn-based RPGs are outdated.”


Horii, however, actually prefers to develop turn-based games as opposed to action-oriented ones. He believes that this gives players more control over their playing time.


“I think that playtime is something that belongs to the player. I didn’t want there to be waiting time for them or to have them feel rushed,” Horii explained. “Until you yourself push that button, the world is on hold. For that reason, the turn-based system, based on entering commands, was a good choice in the sense of operability and also fundamentally. All you have to do is push the A button.”


“That’s why you can play even when you’re watching TV,” pitched in producer, Ryutaro Ichimura. “That’s why you can play even when you’re watching TV. And even during battles, if you need to take a bathroom break, there’s nothing to worry about. The pace really does belong to the user.”


Dragon Quest’s design philosophy isn’t based around the concept of old or new design; rather, around that of letting players take in the game world and enjoy the story. Action games, Ichimura feels, may not facilitate this as much.


He concluded: “With games, when you want to experience the game world, or maybe when you’re trying to enjoy the story, all of a sudden you’re in battle and you need to make intense action — that can happen in a game, you know? If that happens, players may think, ‘Hey, I’m not looking for an action game,’ or ‘I thought I bought an RPG,’ and they get frustrated.”

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.