Let me give you a brief history lesson, all about my childhood. Growing up, I was privileged enough to access a wide range of consoles because my father was interested in gaming, saw all sorts of games, and chose to live through me.
In 1997, FINAL FANTASY VII was released. Alongside a slew of other titles, this was my first introduction to the world of FINAL FANTASY and the Japanese Role Playing Game genre. Looking back, I remember owning a range of random games, as you do when you’re a child. Someone who worked with my dad randomly gave us a box full of games – One of which was FINAL FANTASY VII.
I’ve always been faithful to the FINAL FANTASY franchise. I’m now 34 years old, and I’ve dabbled in other games and genres. Honestly, I’m starting to lose faith, and my interest is beginning to shift – Recently, I’ve started looking at DRAGON QUEST and trying to figure out why I’ve not taken the plunge sooner!
What’s wrong with FINAL FANTASY?!
There’s nothing wrong with FINAL FANTASY. On a personal level, the most enjoyable titles in recent memory have been spin-offs – World of FINAL FANTASY and STRANGER OF PARADISE: FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. While it’s not something I would generally talk about, as these games are spin-offs, my expectations are naturally lower, especially compared to main-numbered titles.
World of FINAL FANTASY has an enjoyable ride from start to finish, enough call-backs to make a veteran like me squee with excitement, a heartfelt story which left me weeping, and a combat system which was the perfect mix of FINAL FANTASY meets Pokémon. Not to mention, the game is gorgeous, whatever platform you’re playing.
STRANGER OF PARADISE is a different kettle of fish. My enjoyment of the game comes from how it subverts your knowledge of the previous entries and tells its own story. Outside of this, it plays like Nioh. That’s fine; I’ve missed Square Enix experimenting with genre.
As Square Enix moves to create games to appeal to a Japanese audience, as that was what everyone in the West adored of the franchise, I hope they’re returning to creating weird, fantastic, and different games. In recent years, the fact they’re creating JRPG experiences away from the branding of FINAL FANTASY is the most freeing action they could have taken.
HARVESTELLA, TRIANGLE STRATEGY, BRAVELY DEFAULT II and The DioField Chronicle. All fantastic games, overuse of capitals and all a part of the underline series, but all maintain that actual FINAL FANTASY DNA – Moreso than the mainline FINAL FANTASY games.
Isn’t DRAGON QUEST the same?
Initially, I used to think so, but ultimately, they’re both JRPG and were both developed by Square Enix; once upon a time, they were competing against each other.
All the love, especially within the West, has been given to FINAL FANTASY. Recently I’ve started to wonder why this has been the case. When comparing both franchises, the initial takeaway is that DRAGON QUEST is grounded in its past, while FINAL FANTASY keeps evolving and, ultimately, losing its identity.
DRAGON QUEST has this overwhelming sense of familiarity and charm which doesn’t wear thin and implements change meaningfully. With each iteration impacting the next, this includes the Japanese-only release of DRAGON QUEST X, a game I’ve got such a crush on that I might start streaming the journey on our YouTube channel.
What’s the problem, Colin?
I’ve played every FINAL FANTASY title launched in the West, including its MMORPGs, spin-offs, and mobile Gacha titles – This series was how I got my JRPG fix.
Herein lies my issue with DRAGON QUEST. My experience has been impacted by the availability of titles in the West. Availability has been made accessible in the most awkward of ways. The easiest way to access the franchise is through the iOS or Google Play Store, the grandfather of JRPGs is locked away on a smartphone, but why?
The only outlier here is Dragon Quest 1,2,3, which is available on the Nintendo Switch in a slightly remastered form. DRAGON QUEST XI is available everywhere now. If you want to experience the entire franchise, you’re moving to a mobile platform. DRAGON QUEST IX isn’t available and is one of the best games throughout the franchise.
We’re currently in a deficit of decent JRPG titles, and with Square Enix’s current mindset of “we need to focus on Japanese-orientated titles as there’s global demand”, give us what we want! Re-release all of the franchises on STEAM, and give them the same treatment as the FINAL FANTASY Pixel Remaster. Let me provide you with money to play these games. As a casual mention, localize DRAGON QUEST X. It’s one of the best MMORPGs available in the genre – LOCALIZE DRAGON QUEST X, YOU COWARDS.
If there are any Japanese RPGs worth playing, leave them in the comments below – Let’s do some live streaming!
Written and edited by Colin.