Dragon Quest Heroes is on its way to the PS3 and PS4. The game was announced at the SCEJA news conference to be released sometime in Japan around Spring 2015 via a sensational gameplay trailer. What is unique about this new entry to the series is that it is (or perhaps not?) surprisingly a collaboration between Koei Tecmo, Omega Force and Square Enix. Taking a departure away from the adventuring, dungeon crawling, and exploratory elements that the series is famous for, Heroes appears to be a full blown action game where players will face overwhelming armies of monsters with a combat system that greatly resembles Dynasty Warriors.
I’m as big a fan of the Dragon Quest series and its spin-offs as much as anybody. In fact, the remake of Dragon Quest VII for the 3DS might actually be my favorite game in the series now. I also have a lot of fond memories of Dragon Warrior IV, as well as the wonderfully terrible Middle-English translation of Dragon Warrior and its sequel (see an example on the image blurb below). I could go on and on actually, and every DQ game has its own respectable amount of great qualities.
Truly, the essence of Dragon Quest doesn’t seem to get old and significantly tampering with the series’s formula, that has its charm harbored in its old school RPG tradition, seems almost like a sin. This is why fans on various websites and message boards had explosively negative reactions when Dragon Quest X was announced as an MMORPG rather than the next traditional sequel to the main series. Dragon Quest Heroes has not been met with the same amount of scorn, probably because it is a spin-off title, but internet fans alike seem unimpressed. Understandably so…After seeing plenty of footage from Hyrule Warriors, another game co-developed by Omega Force, this truly looks like more of the same, doesn’t it?
Well, let’s hold on a second. Dragon Quest VIII was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan back in November of 2004. That’s a pretty long time, and what followed its release has been nearly a decade of Dragon Quest titles on Nintendo consoles only. This didn’t happen overnight. Square Enix began its transition back onto Nintendo platforms quite gradually, by first releasing its ironically titled Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime for the Nintendo DS in December of 2005. The success of Rocket Slime led to a DS release of DQM: Joker in 2006 and the wonderfully flawed experiment that was Dragon Quest Swords in 2007 for the Wii. The DS also received the remakes of the original Super Famicom trilogy. Within just a few years Dragon Quest had found a comfortable home on the handheld.
The ultimate culmination? Dragon Quest IX, a main series release, on the DS rather than a technically superior Sony console. While the specs of the Nintendo DS most certainly could not maintain a game with the same amount of depth as DQVIII, the addictive nature of Dragon Quest and the the easy, on-the-go, connectivity and accessibility that the DS provided went hand-in-hand with the sort of game Square Enix wanted to create with DQIX. Additionally, unlike the Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest has never been a game that needed superior graphics and FMV to sell itself. Perhaps most importantly though, a fan base had then already been established by the previously released spinoff titles.
Now, I think I’ve laid it on pretty thick. I know that Dragon Quest Heroes is not the series sequel that we all wanted, but it is a step into a bright future for PS4 owners. I see it as the beginning of yet another transitory period, and it may very well be an enjoyable game in its own right. Nintendo’s New 3DS offers competition and over the next few years we will probably see a great deal of spin-offs, but ultimately we can feel just a bit more hopeful that the next epic game to topple Dragon Quest VIII will be just that more immense when its released for the PlayStation 4.