GR: In the last few years DQ has become really focused on handheld releases. Do you worry you’re leaving consoles behind?
YH: No, the series got its start on consoles, so we aren’t thinking that way, especially since we’re working on Wii versions of Dragon Quest right now.
Above: This promo art is all we've seen of the tenth DQ since its announcement for Wii in 2008
GR: With a series as popular as Dragon Quest, is it difficult to deal with fan expectations?
YH: Yes, it is difficult to meet fan expectations, especially when people say, “Oh, the last one was the best one.” It creates more pressure each time for the next game to top the last one.
GR: Do you ever find it hard to introduce new features while keeping those fans satisfied?
YH: Yes, that’s a concern and Dragon Quest fans can be very conservative, so when implementing new features we do get some resistance from fans. But we always want to try new things, and we feel those features will be enjoyed by even the most conservative fans. The core of DQ is simplicity and fun, so we keep that in mind when adding new ideas.
For example, when we showed Dragon Quest VIII for the first time, many fans were resistant to the 3D graphics, but once they had the game in their hands, they knew it was still Dragon Quest. And when DQIX was introduced as a handheld game, people were like, “It’s on a handheld?!?” Of course once it came out, people accepted it and over four million people in Japan bought it.
Above: DQVIII's graphics were easily the best the series had ever had
GR: Does the conservative nature of Dragon Quest fans effect how the DQ team thinks of using motion controls in future games?
YH: It all goes back to ease of control. If it fits with the game, and is easy to play, we’re open to motion controls.
GR: Looking at DQ’s future, it’s traditionally such a solo experience, do you find it hard to match that with multiplayer and internet demands like you did in IX?
YM: Going back to the first Dragon Quest, we wanted as many people as possible to enjoy the game, so all the players would talk with each other about the series and spread the word, so communication between DQ players has always been very important to us. We’re not sure exactly how we’ll use features like those in future games, but we’re definitely thinking about how to utilize that communication.
Above: A small sampling of the Dragon Quest manga adaptations
GR: Mr. Horii, before DQ you worked in the manga (Japanese comics) industry. I was curious what series you’re currently reading.
YH: Right now Gantz and Bakuman.
GR: Do you ever think of doing direct sequels like Final Fantasy has done with X-2 and the just announced XIII-2?
YH: Currently no, but if there’s a strong demand, perhaps.
GR: Personally, I’m a big fan of the Rocket Slime games, any current plans for that series?
NF: (Laughs) I worked closely on that series… you ask good questions. We like you. (Laughs) It’s possible, you never know.
Above: Trust me, this underrated title is worth the search
GR: When you first saw the 3DS, what aspects of it interested you with regards to the DQ series?
YH: Obviously we can’t be that detailed right now, but the 3DS's networking features, bigger screen, and smaller pixel size create a lot of possibilities.
GR: Why do you think it is that the Slime has become the mascot for the series instead of any of the human characters?
YH: Maybe the Slime is such a popular character because it’s the first thing you fight and is easy to beat while still being cute. Human characters are who you identify with, so it’s harder to see them as your favorite. And of course the human characters change between games, while the Slime is always there.
GR: Inside the Square-Enix family, is there a friendly rivalry between the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy teams?
YM: (Laughs) No, there’s no rivalry.
Above: A very late PSOne release, DQVII was also the last game under the Dragon Warrior name
GR: Lastly, when looking at what’s been remade so far, Dragon Quest VII would be the next logical release. What do you think of that?
YM: Another good question. (Laughs) When the time comes…
Feb 17, 2011
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