Text: Kamio Takeshi
Raised in a house with a retro gaming environment and with exposure to Dragon Quest games both past and present, my grade school aged son has gotten into Dragon Quest as well. As a video game enthusiast with a love for Dragon Quest that’s spanned over a period of 30 years, I’d like to present this talk between father and son that spans two generations of Dragon Quest!
I was born in 1973, and my first encounter with Dragon Quest was as a middle school student. I found out about it through the pages of weekly Shounen Jump, and played all of the games through XI when they came out. My 12 year old son was born in 2006, and his first encounter with Dragon Quest was in his third year of grade school. His first game in the series was the same copy of the Famicom version of DQ II that I played back in the day.
My First Dragon Quest
Kazu, what was your first Dragon Quest game?
(Kazu) It was the same copy of II that you played. I thought it looked interesting and took interest in it.
And did you play it on an actual Famicom?
(Kazu) Yeah, but I didn’t know how to hook it up…
Oh yeah, you did call me while I was away on a trip and asked how to hook it up.
(Kazu) Then I hooked it up. And when I got out into the opening area, I got killed by the Slimes and big slugs and thought “What’s going on, this game is completely unbalanced!”.
What other RPGs or games were you into back then?
(Kazu) I watched you play the first Final Fantasy game…
No, I mean which ones were you playing yourself?
(Kazu) Maybe Minecraft or Yokai Watch?
And you thought the game balance in DQII was bad compared to those games?
(Kazu) I couldn’t believe that you could be killed by even the weakest enemies in the game.
So why did you end up getting into Dragon Quest, even though the games can be that way?
(Kazu) I stopped playing II, and turned off the Famicom. When I was putting it away, the copy of Dragon Quest IX for the DS that was on the shelf caught my eye.
That copy of IX had my save data on it, right?
(Kazu) Yeah, and when I played that one I got really into the story.
And so IX was the game that really got my son into Dragon Quest. Someone like me who played them all when they came out talked to his friends at school about DQ, and got excited exchanging strategies on how to get through hard parts of the games. But my son didn’t have any friends that played Dragon Quest games. So I have the Internet and streaming video to thank for him catching DQ fever anyway.
Getting Information On YouTube
Since you’ve gotten into Dragon Quest, how have you gone about getting information on it?
(Kazu) Mostly from YouTube videos, I think. I forget which it was, but I learned all about the story and bosses of the series through one video.
Don’t you play some of the games on your phone too?
(Kazu) I play “Dragon Quest doko demo Monster Parade”, “Hoshi no Dragon Quest”, and “Dragon Quest Monsters Super Light”.
Do you feel like you know the characters from playing the phone games?
(Kazu) No, I think that’s more from buying the illustrated books.
Speaking of that, I remember one year you asked for “Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Road Victory” for your birthday, and so I got you that.
(Kazu) Yeah, I learned about that one from videos too. When I actually played it my hand ended up really hurting from swinging the Wiimote around so much.
And so he gradually gets more and more into the series. Largely due to YouTube videos and his own research, he’s discovered quite a few “holes”. And this just leads to him getting hooked more and more.
Holes in the Setting
You really like things related to the bosses, right?
(Kazu) They’re all trying to conquer the world or whatever, but Malroth/Sidoh from II only comes in part way into the story, after he’s summoned by Hargon. And normally you’d think “Wait, who is Malroth?!” about a boss that just suddenly appears like that. Mortamor/Desutamor from VI was tough, but fighting Murdaw left more of an impression on me. So there are a lot of holes.
Which game has your favorite ending?
(Kazu) It might be III. The connections to part I and the “into legend” aspect of it were really good. I was able to research that the stories for either VII or XI were the first ones to occur in the series.
What makes you think that? I got the impression that the Loto/Erdrick trilogy and the Zenithia trilogy occurred in different places, and that they weren’t particularly related to one another.
(Kazu) The Hero Loto makes an appearance in XI, and it had a lot of crossover with the Loto/Erdrick trilogy.
Definitely. I get that XI is the culmination of 30 years of the series.
(Kazu) Right, so they’re all connected now.
With a title as big as Dragon Quest, there are a lot of collaborations with and characters that appear on items you use in everyday life. Thanks to being into the series, I’ve gotten a hold of quite a few of them and gotten my son just as obsessed as I am.
Dragon Quest Outside of the Games
You’re getting into a lot of Dragon Quest related items outside of the games, right? Like the Ichiban Kuji lottery items and such.
(Kazu) I’ve won a lot of clear files from those, even though I’ve wanted to win other kinds of things too…
There are a lot of temptations at the convenience store, as far as that kind of stuff goes (Laughs)
(Kazu) I buy all kinds of things against my better judgement: Slime Fits gum, Hoimi flavored fried chicken…all kinds of things.
You mean you get your mom to buy that stuff for you (Laughs)
The Dragon Quest series has been reigning as the top brand in the world of Japanese games for over 30 years now. I felt all sorts of different things throughout the Dragon Quest talk that I had with my son. As a series of games that we enjoy as parent and child across two generations, I think that both the current titles and Famicom titles that laid the foundation for the series were “new games” to my son in grade school. Sure, there are big differences in the graphics, sound, and production quality. But the story and feeling of RPG play that lie at their core are the same. With the fun we have with the games’ individual gimmicks, conversations between us, watching videos together, and watching him have fun with speed-runs, I realize all over again just how great the Dragon Quest series really is. I’m very grateful as a father that Dragon Quest gives my son and I something to bond over.