Dragon Quest (universe)
The Dragon Quest universe (ドラゴンクエスト, Dragon Quest) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties hailing from the series of role-playing games originally published by Enix, now Square Enix. The franchise is widely considered the quintessential Japanese RPG series, to the point of being a pop culture phenomenon in its native homeland Japan; the series laid the foundation that would define the genre for generations to come, directly inspiring monumental titles including Final Fantasy, EarthBound, Pokémon, Shin Megami Tensei and, by proxy, Persona.
In 1982, Enix sponsored a video game programming contest in Japan which would bring much of the original Dragon Quest team together, including creator Yuji Horii. The prize was a trip to the United States and a visit to AppleFest '83 in San Francisco, where Horii discovered the Wizardry series of American role-playing games. Fellow contest winners Koichi Nakamura and Yukinobu Chida, working with Horii, released the Enix game The Portopia Serial Murder Case for NEC's PC-6001 in 1983; it was an instant success which set an early standard for non-traditional, open-ended gameplay. This style would influence many games after its release, including The Legend of Zelda and Enix's own Dragon Quest.
A few years later, Horii desired to introduce the concept of role-playing games to the wider Japanese video game audience, streamlining the experience to its purest form. To this end, his team began to develop an RPG that would combine elements from the American computer games Wizardry and Ultima. These series were popular among computer hobbyists in Japan, but were deemed too difficult and convoluted for the average player to enjoy. In order to make this game more accessible than the usual computer RPG of the time, it was designed to be more streamlined and fast-paced, with a greater focus on exploration, combat, and storytelling. Horii combined the full-screen map of Ultima with the battle and statistic-oriented Wizardry screens to create the core gameplay of Dragon Quest. He chose the Famicom because, unlike arcade games, players would not have to worry about spending more money upon defeat, and could continue playing from a save point. Noted mangaka Akira Toriyama, of Dragon Ball fame, was commissioned to illustrate the characters and monsters. Similarly, music composer Koichi Sugiyama, known for advertising jingles and pop songs, was hired to compose the game's soundtrack after he sent a postcard to Enix praising their previous work.
While Dragon Quest was in development, many doubted that a fantasy series with swords and sorcery would become popular in Japan, as the more predominant fantasy genre at the time was science fiction; however, the game became an overnight sensation upon its release in 1986, thanks to advertising in Toriyama's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. This ultimately led to Dragon Quest becoming a game that took the Japanese media by storm, and opened the door for a wider variety of genres for both Nintendo's console and the gaming industry as a whole. The team immediately began work on a sequel, and the Dragon Quest series quickly became a booming franchise spanning multiple forms of media, including spin-off games, novels, manga, anime, live music performances, and even a feature-length film.
Despite its overwhelming success in Japan, Dragon Quest was not released internationally until 1989, when Nintendo released it in North America (under the name Dragon Warrior, due to copyright conflicts). The first RPG to be released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, this version features improved graphics and a battery save feature instead of the password system of the original version. In late 1990, the official Nintendo Power magazine included free copies of the game as a subscription bonus; this move proved highly successful, as it attracted thousands of subscribers and ensured the success of the series in the West. Though it lags behind the Final Fantasy franchise internationally, Dragon Quest continues to see a steady release schedule and dedicated audience outside of Japan.
For later titles, many of the original team members retain their role in the series; Horii serves the role of scenario director, while Toriyama and Sugiyama continue to provide character design and music, respectively. Subsequent Dragon Quest games build on the formula introduced by the original. For Dragon Quest II, the developers introduced a party system with the player controlling three characters, another idea inspired by Wizardry; this would go on to become a standard gameplay element in the Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest III introduced a class system, allowing characters to specialize in certain roles, while Dragon Quest IV introduced chapter-based progression and computer-controlled allies. Dragon Quest VIII was the first fully 3D rendered game in the series, and it included the ability to control the camera at any angle on the overworld. Remakes of Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest VIII were released on the Nintendo 3DS in September 2016 and January 2017, respectively and feature redone textures, a retranslated script, and redubbed audio. The latest installment of the core series, Dragon Quest XI, was released in Japan in July 2017, and internationally in September 2018; an enhanced port for Nintendo Switch is set for a simultaneous worldwide release in September 2019.
The long-running series and progenitor of the RPG genre makes its Super Smash Bros. series debut as the second DLC franchise in the Fighters Pass, and the second Square Enix property to be represented by a playable fighter after Final Fantasy. In addition to one newcomer, the series is represented by a stage and several music tracks. All of the content from this franchise is planned to be released in Summer 2019.
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