Thanks to the Square Enix Party 2007, we were lucky enough to sit down with Yuji Horii, the creator of the Dragon Quest series - the most popular series of RPGs in Japan (and no slouch in the US as well.) Here goes:
GamesRadar: The Dragon Quest Monsters series has been continuing for several titles now, to the side of the main DQ series. What sets it apart from the main DQ series, and what does it bring to the table?
Yuji Horii: Where Dragon Quest Monsters originated from was Dragon Quest V, where you had a monster befriending system, as a main part you could actually befriend monsters and have them fight on behalf of your party, as part of your party. So the monster collection games, particularly Dragon Quest Monsters we decided to take that element and make a whole game out of it. So from the very start you'd befriend monsters and use them to fight as your party, and the whole system is based on the original DQV system.
The big difference between Dragon Quest V and the series as it went on as Dragon Quest Monsters, is that in DQV you could just level up the monsters and give them equipment and that was it. But in Dragon Quest Monsters you can actually breed them or synthesize new monsters by combining two different monsters and coming out with a new, original monster that has its own elements that no other monster would have. So you can actually breed them and come up with your own original creation. So that's the huge difference between what was in the original Dragon Quest series and what was in Dragon Quest Monsters.
Above: Dragon Quest IX surprised the world when it was announced for the Nintendo DS
GR: When Dragon Quest IX was announced for the DS, it was quite a surprise - particularly because of how the series evolved forward with DQVIII. VII was similar to the SNES games, whereas VIII was very beautiful and fully-formed. How does this change in platform affect the evolution of the series?
YH: It doesn't change the policy of the Dragon Quest series at all - it's the same policy. With Dragon Quest IX, I wanted to make a game you could play with your friends. So that you could connect to the net. But usually net games have the huge hurdle of the cost, and the fuss of connecting. With the DS you just turn on the switch and connect, so that's why the DS was so appealing. It leads to that fact that you can actually turn on and get with your friends straight away, and that's what the deal was there.
A lot of people, want to play on the console and then switch to the handheld and back... a lot of users want to play on the handheld anyway. It's that type of game that you could play on it. It's not a big switch to go back and forth. I think most users will be happy with that.
GR: Dragon Quest Monsters Joker came out prior to Pokemon Diamond & Pearl in Japan but will be released after its release in the U.S. Does that change the reception you expect or perhaps the audience's readiness for the title?
YH: Well, hopefully because Pokemon's selling well in the west, Mosnters will get a break. Because up to now, it's been hard to receive it. Hopefully Monsters can be more accepted that way. We're hoping to get the post-Pokemon audience, a bit older.
So you can see that the even the main character is cynical and cool, he's got a little bit of attitude you wouldn't get in the Pokemon games. So you can see that right in the hero.