RPGamer Feature - Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen Post Mortem Interview
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
Developer: ArtePiazza
Publisher: Square Enix
ESRB: E10+
Release Date: 09.18.2008

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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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