Great RPG, but is it dragon quest great? a long awaited offline port
Back in 2012, the critically acclaimed and much beloved Dragon Quest series changed its style to one of an MMORPG. For a series that was stalwart in keeping the basics of its gameplay mostly the same, this came as a surprise to many gamers, myself included.
Famed Japanese actress and avid gamer Keiko Awaji lambasted the decision very publicly at the time before its release. She stated in an interview that, “Playing video games by yourself is fine! What do you need someone else for?” Despite this, her fandom was big enough that she bought a copy when it was released the same year for the Nintendo Wii, along with all the bells and whistles like a subscription needed to play online. However, it was always her wish to play another standard Dragon Quest offline before she died. Sadly, she died in 2014 at the age of 89, before Dragon Quest XI was released in 2017, so she never got another chance.
Let’s see what could have been as Square Enix finally decided to allow the game and thus story to be told offline a decade later, a decision many wanted in the first place.
I will try to use screenshots from the beginning of the game to avoid major spoilers.
before you Start
At the beginning of the game, you are given several choices that you need to make that will affect the flow of the game. But before that, you are given a decision to do 縛りプレイ, which are self-imposed game restrictions. You can choose from a list of things that make the game more difficult to varying degrees. However, if it is your first time playing, I would highly advise against it, as those kinds of restrictions are usually for second playthroughs and would dampen the overall first impression.
You can choose whether the hero is male and thus whether they have an older sister or younger sister. Or you can choose to be female and choose whether to have an older brother or younger brother. But that’s not all. You have to decide their race which ranges from Human, Elf, Dwarf, Wendi. Pukuripo, and Ogre (Yes, I know it is six despite the title, humans are probably inherent and not counted in the awakening part of the title. Well, there are even more races in the online version.) The starting race you choose affects how hard the game is in the beginning, with different allies joining you at different times, so there is replay value there, at least.
Lastly, you decide what the actual name of the hero and their sibling will be. I chose a human male with a younger sister, which I named エックス (X) and ミーナ (Mina), respectively. I chose those names as I have seen them used officially in some screenshots, so I felt it gave them some foundation as established characters. I also copied the look of the cover for the hero for the same reason.
Battles are traditional and turn-based, which happen mostly in a field or dungeon which you start one via a symbol encounter. You can run by holding the R button on the Nintendo Switch version and similar buttons on other systems. It is a very good idea to run in the field to avoid enemies should you choose.
A monster has appeared!
If you have played Dragon Quest before, the basics are mostly the same in the beginning. The options from Fight will open up more when more people join your party, and you can switch job classes. The menu reads from top to bottom: Fight, Change Strategy, Switch, Setting, Escape.
The graphics are in the style of Chibi, or small miniaturized figures. Some harsher critics may feel that they are outdated or not improved enough despite the art style. Some also may have wanted traditional graphics as seen in the online version. I personally had no problem with the graphics and was okay with the Chibi style.
The game features music from acclaimed musician Koichi Sugiyama as does all the other Dragon Quests. It is hard to imagine a Dragon Quest without him—Or Yuuji Horii as lead designer or Akira Toriyama as character designer for that matter. Nevertheless, the music is great which is no surprise.
Where do I go now, where do i go?
Treasure oh Treasure
That’s not all folks
Dragon Quest X as stated many times before originally was and still is an online RPG. Does that mean this game cover all the versions the online version up until the offline release? The answer is sadly no. To sum it up, the game covers up until about version 2 while the online version is about version 6 currently. However, there are still some exclusive offline episodes so to speak found in the game.
Dragon Quest X, although not as expansive as the online version that continues to this day in Japan, is still a great RPG. Some may say that it doesn’t tick all the boxes that turns a great RPG into a great Dragon Quest, but I still like the game and recommend it. There are plenty of things to do side-quest-wise, so the game gives you your money’s worth.
As it stands right now, it is only available in Japanese with no announcement of an English version or any other language for that matter planned (The online version wasn’t localized.). Seeing that this is an RPG, that’s a pretty big hurdle to fully enjoy the game.