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Horii explains some Dragon Quest IV design choices and talks about the

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Source: RPGamer

 

 

Yuji Horii is the mastermind behind the long-running RPG series that is Dragon Quest. RPGamer was lucky enough to catch him away from helping his production company Armor Studio and Level-5 work on Dragon Quest IX in order to talk with him about issues that are closer to home for us: the Zenithia series for Nintendo DS. This series consists of three game, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, and Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie, with Chapters of the Chosen having been recently released in North America. Read along as we pick the brain of the Dragon Quest series creator.

Greetings. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. First, we would like to start off by asking what caused you to want to remake the Zenithia trilogy on the Nintendo DS.

Yuji Horii: Although these titles are over 15 years old, the diversified cast of characters from Dragon Quest IV and the epic storyline of Dragon Quest V are still very relevant to this day and age. I think these remakes provide an opportunity for a large number of players to experience the excitement Dragon Quest has to offer.

 

Dragon Quest IV seems to be a fan favorite. As the brains behind the series, what is your favorite aspect of the game?

Horii: My favorite aspect would have to be interacting with the cast of characters I mentioned above. Although players were able to freely create party members in Dragon Quest III, I wanted to explore the lives of each character more closely this time around. That idea is what eventually led us to use the chapter-driven method of storytelling seen in Dragon Quest IV.

 

Were there any additions or changes that you wanted to see in a remake of Dragon Quest IV that circumstances just didn't allow for?

Horii: Dragon Quest IV was previously remade for the PlayStation. With this Nintendo DS remake, I was able to accomplish all the changes and additions that I felt were necessary.

 

In the original Dragon Quest IV, players were not able to input commands for allies after a certain point. Why was that decision made originally and how do you feel about the change to the DS version?

Horii: As I mentioned earlier, one of the major themes of Dragon Quest IV is that each character has a life that he or she draws experiences from. We wanted to create the image that party members had their own personalities, and didn't always necessarily do what the player wanted.

 

But with characters like Kiryl, who did almost nothing but cast Whack in the original, some players ended up with a narrow view of certain party members. There were also requests from players for full party control, so we decided to implement it in this remake.

 

Which Dragon Quest IV character is your favorite and why?

Horii: That would have to be Maya. (laughs) While the idea of twins, one serious and one bad, might be a little cliché, I think we handled it pretty well in the game. She's also a real beauty. I'm a huge fan of the battle music in Chapter 4, too.

 

In Dragon Quest V, the marriage feature is a unique system. What was the inspiration for using it?

Horii: We wanted to give players a choice to really mull over. We tried to come up with something that people devoted a lot of careful thought to in real life, and came up with marriage.

 

Dragon Quest VI is unique in the Zenithia series, as it is the only one of the three that features a class system. How does the class system enhance the experience of Dragon Quest VI?

Horii: It added a lot of depth to the combat system. Dragon Quest IV focused on characters. Dragon Quest V focused on story. But with both of these titles, I think we went a little bit too easy on players with battles. So we revived the class system in Dragon Quest VI, which made players think more carefully about how to level up their characters. This added a lot of excitement to combat.

 

Which of these three Dragon Quest games is your personal favorite and why?

Horii: Definitely Dragon Quest V. It's the combination of an epic tale that spans three generations against a great evil, and the big choice we put upon players. I'm confident that we successfully implemented both of these into the game.

 

How do you feel the Zenithia trilogy holds up to more modern RPGs being released?

Horii: There will always be conflict between good and evil. We've seen this many times in the past. Things usually start off in a small, peaceful village. Then something bad happens, and the young hero is thrust into battle. The evil begins to spread, and soon threatens to destroy the entire world. The hero travels across land and sea, and even to the skies above. He is helped by people from many walks of life, and he grows to be a man.

 

In this trilogy, the most powerful being is the Zenith Dragon, but he doesn't start off helping humanity. The story is full of many kinds of people: bumbling villagers, defiant people, those who fight, and those who pray. This cannot be denied.

 

Sometimes people undergo harsh, seemingly unbearable challenges. And fighting isn't always the only way out. I want players feel like they have successfully made it through an ordeal like this.

 

Although most games now are more realistic, I think there are still a lot of people who appreciate fantasy like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. Dragon Quest's appeal is that it allows players to enter such a world and be the main character of their very own story.

 

We have to ask… could you explain the origin of the running "puff puff" jokes?

Horii: The joke originally comes from Akira Toriyama's comics. In Japanese, it sort of mixes the sound of a woman applying makeup and that of someone getting a massage, while also leaving quite a bit to the individual player's imagination. Unfortunately, what "puff puff" means to me is top secret. My lips are sealed.

 

Some people have complained about having to take too much time leveling your party. Do you feel there is a right and wrong way to play Dragon Quest games?

Horii: I don't think there's really a right or wrong way to play, but if you're going to be the hero, you probably shouldn't rush, should you? If you spend time exploring dungeons and feeding your curiosity, you'll fight enough battles to level up adequately. You shouldn't have to do anything excessive. If you think about it, there are a lot of options, actually. You can try to tackle a powerful foe at a lower level, or you can try to gather all the best equipment and magic before going into battle.

 

How do you hope these remakes will influence the North American audience for future Dragon Quest titles?

Horii: Although there are a lot of hardcore games on the market now, the remakes of Dragon Quest IV and V are much more compact, and have broader appeal I think. These titles give players a chance to delve into the world of Dragon Quest and get a taste of its charm. I also hope they will pique players' interest in upcoming titles.

 

RPGamer would like to thank Yuji Horii and the folks at Square Enix for taking the time to help put together this interview. Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen was released on Sept. 18, 2008. The next two games in the trilogy, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride and Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie have been confirmed for North American release, but have not received a release date.

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They should have asked him what he thinks about party chat being removed from the European and North American releases.

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They should have asked him what he thinks about party chat being removed from the European and North American releases.

 

That was my thought too as I was reading the interview.

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I would have asked him what he thinks about all the accents and broken diolauge :rolleyes:

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Yeesh, give RPGamer a break. After all, don't you want new Horii interviews with Horii for future DQ releases? I thought it showed a lot of guts just asking about "puff puff," but Horii is still a businessman. Even if they asked him questions that made him uncomfortable, he'd still give a slick answer like he did when he said his lips are sealed about what "puff puff" means to him (BJ's, duh...).

 

I think if they did ask him about party chat he'd just come up with some BS about not wanting to delay the NA/European DQ IV release, since he couldn't very well say that the company wanted to place its talented and money in more important (financially, creatively, etc.) products (which although it's the truth, probably doesn't sit well with a lot of DQ fans).

 

I enjoyed reading the interview, if only to get a deeper perspective on the subjective opinions of the series' creator.

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I bet there is a lot of stuff Square-Enix does to tick Horii off, but to keep the company happy he keeps his lips sealed :P.

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Why would he need to keep SE happy? If anything, they do things to keep HIM happy.

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Why would he need to keep SE happy? If anything, they do things to keep HIM happy.
Indeed, how much money has DQ made for Enix over the years, not even counting merchandise?

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I thought it showed a lot of guts just asking about "puff puff," but Horii is still a businessman. Even if they asked him questions that made him uncomfortable, he'd still give a slick answer like he did when he said his lips are sealed about what "puff puff" means to him (BJ's, duh...).

That's actually a widely held misconception. In reality, "puff puff" is when a man sticks his face between a woman's breasts or something. It's an inside joke between Horii and character designer Akira Toriyama, and originally comes from a running gag in Toriyama's manga.

 

Indeed. You can see Master Roshi going for a "forced puff puff" in DBZ here. Note that the Japanese say it as "pafu pafu", which you hear him saying at roughly 0:21 to 0:23. There are several other times that Roshi either gets or talks about getting a puff puff. If you remember, you also see a puff puff being given in DQVIII at that hidden place north of Arcadia. Of course, it's done as a gag because it's revealed at the end that the girl used a pair of slimes in place of her breasts.

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They should have asked him what he thinks about party chat being removed from the European and North American releases.
I would have asked him what he thinks about all the accents and broken diolauge
Yeesh, give RPGamer a break. After all, don't you want new Horii interviews with Horii for future DQ releases?

In PR controlled interviews, you're often not allowed to ask anything controversial. There's a chance it wasn't even direct and their questions were filtered through the system. The best example off the top of my head would be one of those movie press junkets. No matter where you see it, it's always the same questions and answers. Still, if there's an issue with the game, I think you should bring it up and you can do so without being a jerk. The dialects were questionable from the start and I don't think there's anything wrong with asking why the party chat was removed. It serves to drum up some positive press for the game. I'm surprised SEI did it and with RPGamer none the less! They've hardly done anything. Heck, their assets were only three megs!

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I don't want to get into the whole dialect argument again, but I think a lot of westerners are quite oblivious to the dialects and accents that exist in Japanese language entertainment. Goku and Chichi both had real country bumpkin voices and often used grammatically incorrect words - even totally making up some of their own at times. Now, some American will have to tell me how the US accent of Goku sounds to them but to me it sounds like a pretty average American accent, perhaps with a slightly cheesy "Action hero" element to it. However, if it was true to the Japanese original, he'd essentially be a redneck and say things like "hooo-eee!" Well, that's from a US perspective; if there was a British localisation that was true to the Japanese original, he'd sound Cornish (or basically like Emma from DQVIII). I'm not saying I'd like that - hell no! - but to Japanese ears Goku is basically a kind-hearted country bumpkin or hick.

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I don't want to get into the whole dialect argument again, but I think a lot of westerners are quite oblivious to the dialects and accents that exist in Japanese language entertainment. Goku and Chichi both had real country bumpkin voices and often used grammatically incorrect words - even totally making up some of their own at times. Now, some American will have to tell me how the US accent of Goku sounds to them but to me it sounds like a pretty average American accent, perhaps with a slightly cheesy "Action hero" element to it. However, if it was true to the Japanese original, he'd essentially be a redneck and say things like "hooo-eee!" Well, that's from a US perspective; if there was a British localisation that was true to the Japanese original, he'd sound Cornish (or basically like Emma from DQVIII). I'm not saying I'd like that - hell no! - but to Japanese ears Goku is basically a kind-hearted country bumpkin or hick.

While accents do exist in Japan(the Osakan accent is a great example), I think the Fans are upset that their taken too far; I could barely understand waht anyone was saying in chapter 2, and my first impression of Alena, Cristo and Broya was soured by it. And don't you think Horii would be a little upset that his favorite character in this entry sounds terrible? Poor Maya can't even punctuate correctly.....

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I don't want to get into the whole dialect argument again, but I think a lot of westerners are quite oblivious to the dialects and accents that exist in Japanese language entertainment. Goku and Chichi both had real country bumpkin voices and often used grammatically incorrect words - even totally making up some of their own at times. Now, some American will have to tell me how the US accent of Goku sounds to them but to me it sounds like a pretty average American accent, perhaps with a slightly cheesy "Action hero" element to it. However, if it was true to the Japanese original, he'd essentially be a redneck and say things like "hooo-eee!" Well, that's from a US perspective; if there was a British localisation that was true to the Japanese original, he'd sound Cornish (or basically like Emma from DQVIII). I'm not saying I'd like that - hell no! - but to Japanese ears Goku is basically a kind-hearted country bumpkin or hick.

While accents do exist in Japan(the Osakan accent is a great example), I think the Fans are upset that their taken too far; I could barely understand waht anyone was saying in chapter 2, and my first impression of Alena, Cristo and Broya was soured by it. And don't you think Horii would be a little upset that his favorite character in this entry sounds terrible? Poor Maya can't even punctuate correctly.....

 

I'd hate this to sound anti-American but I have to say it, please just take it with a pinch of salt and don't take it too seriously: everyone I've heard moan about the accents are American and it almost always comes down to them not being able to understand them. I didn't find them remotely hard to understand although, I must admit, the mock-Russian did throw me off at first in the sense that it seemed more like typos. After a few lines, though, I got it.

 

If what Horii says is true about how he really likes the different characters being built up in their own chapters before coming together in Chapter 5, he'd surely like the idea of accents because it really shows that these characters are from all around the world, from totally different cultures. To some degree, Toriyama has already implied different cultures by the fact that Maya and Meena look to be of a different race from the other characters.

 

Honestly, I love the fact that this game represents a more convincing and believable world now by having accents, rather than the Star Trek type thing where everyone speaks in an American accent even if they've only just encountered humans for the first time (thank god for Picard providing a different accent, even if it's an English one rather than French). Also, it seems that quite a lot of Americans also don't like the fact that something has been localised outside of the US for once. For example, Maya says "innit" at one point which is a thing that young British Asians tend to say rather pointlessly at the end of sentences, for example "I went to the shops to buy a coke, innit?" (When we say Asians, it tends to refer to South Asians rather than East Asians because that's where most of our immigrant's families originate from).

 

Seriously, one minute I hear some Americans moan that the game isn't just a direct translation and copy of the Japanese original and then the next I hear other Americans defend things like Phoenix Wright being relocated from Tokyo to LA for the English language version (despite the fact that it seems that LA is now home to several ancient Japanese buildings). It comes across as if there's a significant amount of people from the US that want everything to be on their terms, written in standard modern American English rather than representing anywhere outside of the US.

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well, here's one middle american that had no trouble with the accents/dialects.

although, i did take French as my foreign language in high school, and traveled overseas to London, Paris, and Moscow.

 

i am also widely read, with all sorts of American/English sci-fi and fantasy, but also including foreign authors like Voltaire, Verne, Dumas, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc.

 

take just a slight knowledge of the various 'british' dialects (scottish, welsh, irish, cockney, etc.) learned from both books and film. add knowledge of how russian roughly translates into direct english, also learned from both books and film (hooray cold war submarine movies!). season this mixture with the knowledge of french gained from an american high school.

result?

i recognized immediately what was going on, and found the accents/dialects charming (although maybe the scottish was abit thick).

the Normandy coast region of maya/meena (we're english, no french, no english, no; wait which one are we now?) was my favorite.

 

my suggestion to people who complain about this: put down the games and read some books !

 

 

and i guess i should add a comment about the horii interview. hmm. well, i guess i'm just happy that he (and the rest of the team) decided to port/make/report/remake (whichever) these three games, since i couldn't play 5/6, and missed 4 as a kid. i never have and never will play a video game in a language i can't read.

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First, let me say how apreciative I am that you didn't act like a setryotypical forum user and explode on me for holding a diffrent opinon.

 

It's not that I hate the use of accents, I just despise how poorly they were done for some significant characters. I got through chapter one just fine since the scottish accent was (to me) more jargon than alternate spelling. But as soon as I started chapter two I knew it was all down hill. The broken sentaces made it nigh-impossible to take anyone seriously, and it feels like whatever personality Cristo and Broya had was sucked right out of them to make them seem like actual rooskies; I doubt I'll ever have as much appreication for them as long time fans do. And that goes double for Meena and Maya, if their supposed to be french(or at least live in the repersentation of), why couldn't they have acted like the non-russian characters and spoken with french terms and an accent? Why do they need to sound like they just learned english yesterday?

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Was anybody else surprised by the dialects? I expected Maya and Meena to sound Hispanic for some reason.

Interesting... Though apart from being dark-skinned, I can't really see any connection. In the era that DQ is based upon, there'd be no Mexico or South American Spanish-based civilisation. There'd be Spain but then they'd typically be represented as conquistadores or something like that, particularly from a Japanese point of view.

 

Since one looked like a belly dancer and the other is a fortune teller, it made sense that they'd be South Asian to me. While historically those things may not be specifically linked to, say, India, they do tend to be strongly associated with them in a sort of lazy, stereotypical way. Also, South Asian girls tend to be drawn with slightly purplish hair in anime - there's a tendency that dark-skinned girls with black hair look like tanned Japanese girls in anime (Kagura from Azumanga Daioh, for example) so you get the South Asian girls with purplish hair and often get them, along with African women being drawn with white hair or blond hair, though it makes no real sense (for example, Elena from Street Fighter 3, Kaolla Su).

 

To me it's "obvious" that they're meant to be Indian or Middle Eastern but I wouldn't want to try and pass that off as some sort of fact. I think that's another question on my list of "Things to ask the DQ dev team".

 

{EDIT}

Well coincidentally, taking a lead from another thread about DQ soundtracks, I just came across Meena and Maya's theme tune and it's called "Gypsy's Journey". It makes sense; belly dancing and fortune telling are particularly associated with gypsies. And you know what gypsies came from? Yep, India.

 

If anyone's interested:

The word derives from the word for "Egyptian" in Latin, the same as the Spanish Gitano or the French Gitan. It emerged in Europe, in the 15th century, after their migration into the land of the Romani people (aka Roma) in that continent. They received this name from the local people either because they spread in Europe from an area named Little Egypt, in Southern Balkans or because they resembled the European imagery of Egyptians as dark-skinned people skilled in witchcraft (in fact they arrived from Northern India). During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was written in various ways: Egipcian, Egypcian, 'gipcian, 'gypcian. As the time elapsed, the notion of Gypsy evolved including other stereotypes, like nomadism, exoticism.

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Frankly, I think if the tough questions can't be asked then what's the point of the interview? I've seen this junk before and it didn't answer anything that was on my mind regarding the game.

 

My thoughts on the game was the dialects and why SE felt the need to toss them in. I just started the game up recently and I'm currently on chapter 2. I didn't like the dialects that were in chapter 1 and from what I'm hearing about Torneko's chapter, I dread what's coming. The dialect in chapter 2 isn't so bad from what I've seen so far.

 

My next thought is why the party chat was removed. I assume this is because North America is a half ass market with DQ in the eyes of SE compared to Japan and they felt a full translation of the Japanese version was not worth the expense when it comes to the English fans. I've never asked for any special content in a DQ game that the Japanese fans didn't get but what I don't expect is for the English version to have any less content than the Japanese version.

 

My final thought is why it took months to get this game out after the Japanese release when you consider what little was done to it in the time between the Japanese release and the North American release.

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Well it wasn't just the North American market, it's the European and Australian market - both of which got the game before North America. What doesn't make sense is that they put party chat into DQVIII so it's not as if there's some sort of consensus that we "foreigners" don't deserve or want it. Then again, the PS2 has way more owners than the DS so that probably party contributed to any cutting of corners that went on.

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My thoughts on the game was the dialects and why SE felt the need to toss them in. I just started the game up recently and I'm currently on chapter 2. I didn't like the dialects that were in chapter 1 and from what I'm hearing about Torneko's chapter, I dread what's coming. The dialect in chapter 2 isn't so bad from what I've seen so far.

What exactly did you hear about Chapter 3? IMO it had the easiest of the dialects to read. Chapter 2's Russian was probably the worst for me but after a while I got used to it. It can still be rather disorienting at times, though.

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My thoughts on the game was the dialects and why SE felt the need to toss them in.

 

Probably the same reason Nintendo felt the need to "toss in" all the medieval type speech when they brought over the original game, or why Squeenix used British English for DQ8. It gives it more character than just a more straightforward translation would. Does it really take an interview with the creator to figure that out? Yeah, maybe you think they went overboard and you don't like it, but is it really that hard to get what they were going for?

 

Party chat's removal, that's a valid question, though. They had plenty of time to do that, given that the rest was already mostly translated. And if there wasn't room in the cart they could've always removed some of the other languages instead -- you can't even access some of them without AR codes, at least on the US version. Phrased right, it wouldn't have to be confrontational or controversial to ask, just a simple "is there a reason why didn't party chat make it into the localized versions?" and maybe "will it make it into DQ5/6?" as a follow up.

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interesting they didn't ask about dialects. i'm only on chapter one, but dialects are hard to understand in text. i could understand an accent but when words have changed vowels and letters missing to try to make it "sound" irish or something, i don't know how to read it and don't always know what words even are!

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My thoughts on the game was the dialects and why SE felt the need to toss them in.

 

Probably the same reason Nintendo felt the need to "toss in" all the medieval type speech when they brought over the original game, or why Squeenix used British English for DQ8. It gives it more character than just a more straightforward translation would. Does it really take an interview with the creator to figure that out? Yeah, maybe you think they went overboard and you don't like it, but is it really that hard to get what they were going for?

 

Party chat's removal, that's a valid question, though. They had plenty of time to do that, given that the rest was already mostly translated. And if there wasn't room in the cart they could've always removed some of the other languages instead -- you can't even access some of them without AR codes, at least on the US version. Phrased right, it wouldn't have to be confrontational or controversial to ask, just a simple "is there a reason why didn't party chat make it into the localized versions?" and maybe "will it make it into DQ5/6?" as a follow up.

IAWTC

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Guest Plattym3
My thoughts on the game was the dialects and why SE felt the need to toss them in.

 

Probably the same reason Nintendo felt the need to "toss in" all the medieval type speech when they brought over the original game, or why Squeenix used British English for DQ8. It gives it more character than just a more straightforward translation would. Does it really take an interview with the creator to figure that out? Yeah, maybe you think they went overboard and you don't like it, but is it really that hard to get what they were going for?

 

Party chat's removal, that's a valid question, though. They had plenty of time to do that, given that the rest was already mostly translated. And if there wasn't room in the cart they could've always removed some of the other languages instead -- you can't even access some of them without AR codes, at least on the US version. Phrased right, it wouldn't have to be confrontational or controversial to ask, just a simple "is there a reason why didn't party chat make it into the localized versions?" and maybe "will it make it into DQ5/6?" as a follow up.

IAWTC

WTF is that acronym for?

 

I Attacked the World Trade Center

I Am Watching Toonmania Cartoons

I Ate Way Tiny Carrots

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"I agree with that comment."

 

Wow, I'm so sad that I know that.

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