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Dragon Quest was the first true console Role Playing Game and defined the RPGs we play today. Way back in early 80's, the only RPGs out there were Ultima and Wizardry, but many average gamers found them too complicated. Dragon Quest was a combined effort of writer and programmer Yuji Horii, artist Akira Toriyama, and composer Koichi Sugiyama. Even though they had already achieved success on their own, they had no idea how popular and influential one little game could be.

Yuji Horii

Horii first garnered attention after he won an Enix sponsored programming contest. After creating two simple games, his inspiration from American RPGs led him to create Dragon Quest. Everything from the story, dialogue and even the rough ideas for the monsters come from him. Often referred to as the first video game author, Horii is still in charge of the framework of Dragon Quest. He only remakes a title when he feels the console can give the player a different experience. In the mid 90's he took some time to co-create another fan favorite,Chrono Trigger.

Akira Toriyama

Toriyama is in charge of the general look and the final designs for the main characters and monsters. His unique style helped Dragon Quest stand out from the typical fantasy RPGs. Toriyama has created numerous manga series, but he is known best in America for Dragon Ball. He met Horii while he was working freelance for the manga magazine Shonen Jump. Since ending Dragon Ball, Toriyama is taking it easy and enjoying a break from the hectic weekly schedule. He still continues to work on Dragon Quest's designs and various short series.

Koichi Sugiyama

Sugiyama is the music composer for the series. He is a professional freelance musician and his works can be found in the theater, games, movies, TV shows and even a few commercials. Sugiyama is probably best know for his work on Dragon Quest, which lead to the first live video game music concert after Dragon Quest II's release in 1987. He continues to conduct live concerts with Dragon Quest music and releases the Symphonic Suite recordings.

Unlike the Ultima or Wizardry games, Dragon Quest was relatively simple with its point and click interface. The simplicity along with the colorful world and intriguing story, made it a game everyone could enjoy. Since it wasn't a fast paced shooter or side scroller, it had a broad appeal and was enjoyed by kids and adults. Its popularity is hard to imagine for us western gamers. Dragon Quest III was released on a weekday and many kids skipped school and workers called in sick to purchase and play their copy. Lines at game stores grew several blocks long. Some people were even mugged by disgruntled customers desperate to get their hands on one. There were even complaints that Dragon Quest slowed the country's productivity which resulted in a DQ game only to be released on a weekend or holiday. There has yet to be a game in North America that has reached the cultural phenomenon status that Dragon Quest has. When Dragon Quest IV was released, a celebration was held and "hoimi" (the game's basic healing spell) became an official Japanese word.

After numerous delays (more than the typical DQ title) Dragon Quest VII was released and became the highest selling Playstation game of all time. It even became the first video game to win an award from Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs. Dragon Quest has made a huge impact in the gaming industry. It kicked off a new genre that's enjoyed by people of all ages around the world. Dragon Quest VIII is the first to feature an all new look courtesy of developer Level 5. In just a few days it became the highest selling Playstation 2 title clocking in at over four million copies.

Since the beginning, the Dragon Quest games have grown from a single hero traveling on foot to multiple character parties that sail the seas and soar through the skies. Players have created their own kingdoms, faced God himself, and even captured and trained a few monsters. But its core, its look and, its game play have remained the same. You won't be seeing a dark and dreary DQ. It's colorful world and light hearted story has kept Japan enthralled for nearly 20 years.

Pictures of the creators and the creation process

For further insight on Dragon Quest, check out RPG Land's History of Dragon Quest article.

In 2002 Enix purchased Squaresoft resulting in a merger and becoming SquareEnix Inc. in 2003. While there were several Dragon Quest titles released in Japan under the SquareEnix name, none of them were brought to America until Dragon Quest VIII. It's also been the first Dragon Quest game to be released in the US under the DQ name since SquareEnix purchased the rights from table top gaming company TSR. With the massive ad campaign behind DQ VIII, SquareEnix is hoping to attract new customers to the series. However, their plans past VIII remains to be seen. Only time will tell if titles like Slime Morimori and Dragon Quest V will reach the western world.

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