A screen shot from Dragon Quest VIII. Credit: Square Enix
NEW YORK — Dragon Quest is one of the classics of the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) genre, and yet you probably don't want to track down half-a-dozen different systems if you want to play through the whole thing. Square Enix sympathizes, and is in the process of releasing just about every game in the series on mobile devices, including the launch of Dragon Quest II today (Oct. 9).
I checked out the Dragon Quest games firsthand at a Square Enix event just before New York Comic Con, and while there's nothing too exciting to report, there's lots of heartening news for old-school JRPG fans. Square Enix is, slowly but surely, bringing just about the entire series to mobile platforms -- and not charging a whole lot of money for it.
At present, players can buy Dragon Quest ($3), Dragon Quest II ($5), Dragon Quest IV ($15) and Dragon Quest VIII ($20) from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. This represents an impressive breadth of gaming history.
Dragon Quest I and II, for example, are ported from Super Nintendo remakes of the two games that never made their way stateside before, while Dragon Quest VIII actually looks better now than it did on the PlayStation 2, since the phone in your pocket is more powerful than Sony's seminal system.
As for the games themselves, there's not too much to say other than that they're essentially perfect ports, slightly tweaked so that players can get through the games somewhat more quickly and easily before (better suited for a commute than for marathon play sessions).
In each game, you'll recruit a diverse party of adventurers and take on the forces of evil in turn-based battles. Later games in the series have better graphics, environmental puzzles and deeper character interactions.
Right now, Square Enix has plans to also bring Dragon Quests III, V and VI to mobile, although could not share release dates or prices. Dragon Quest VII may also be on the docket, but Square Enix does not have any solid news on it right now.
As for newer games in the series, like IX and X (which has never been released in the West), the company will likely gauge how well the first batch sells before making any decisions.