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Dragon Quest (universe)

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Dragon Quest (universe)
Dragon Quest.png
Symbol of the Dragon Quest series.
Developer(s) Square Enix
Chunsoft
Heartbeat
ArtePiazza
Level-5
Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Square Enix (formerly Enix)
Nintendo
Designer(s) Yuji Horii
Koichi Nakamura
Genre(s) Role-playing
Console/platform of origin Nintendo Entertainment System
First installment Dragon Quest (1986)
Latest installment Dragon Quest Keshi Keshi (2021) Japan
Article on Dragon Quest Wiki Dragon Quest (universe)

The Dragon Quest universe (ドラゴンクエスト, Dragon Quest), stylized in-game as 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 player character assumes the role of a chosen hero going off on a quest to vanquish a cataclysmic evil and save the world. The franchise is widely considered the quintessential Japanese RPG series, to the point of being a cultural phenomenon in its country while having a relatively small but passionate fanbase everywhere else. The series, alongside Final Fantasy, laid the foundation that would define the genre for generations to come, directly inspiring monumental titles including Pokémon, EarthBound, Fire Emblem, and Shin Megami Tensei (including its subseries Persona), and elements popularized by it can still be seen in more modern series like Xenoblade Chronicles or Kingdom Hearts.

Franchise description[edit]

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, distilling 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 like 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 with a pen-and-paper RPG of the same name). 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, a move which proved highly successful; the magazine attracted thousands of subscribers and ensured the game's success, as well as earning a dedicated fanbase for future entries. Although it lags behind Final Fantasy in international sales, the series gradually began to grow in popularity upon the release of Dragon Quest VIII, which marked an increase in sales outside of Japan as well as the drop of the title Dragon Warrior due to the trademark for the pen and paper game finally expiring and Square Enix taking advantage of this by registering the trademark in the USA. The best-selling game in the series worldwide is Dragon Quest XI, in part due to its main Hero appearing as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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, the first main game in the series to be released in PAL regions and the first to drop the Dragon Warrior title overseas, was also the first fully 3D rendered game in the series, and it included the ability to control the camera at any angle on the overworld. Though Koichi Sugiyama was seen as a controversial figure for decades, he would still contribute new tracks for the franchise until Dragon Quest XII. Most notably, orchestral arrangements of the series' soundtrack performed in Tokyo or London titled "Symphonic Suite" were either offered in albums or played exclusively in the Japanese release of a game. The latter title would be his last contribution to the franchise before passing away in September 2021.

The Dragon Quest franchise, owing to its widespread success, has spawned many spin-off series based upon its characters and settings, some of which have become franchises in their own right.

  • The manga Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai related to the series was first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1989. It is set in a story unlinked to the mainline series, with original characters such as its main protagonist, Dai. After its publication, it received an anime adaptation in 1991, along with films shortly after. In 2020, numerous video games, and an anime re-adaptation based on the manga were revealed and released throughout the year. It also got a crossover in 2019's Jump Force, marking the first appearance of a Dragon Quest character in a Weekly Shōnen Jump crossover game, and in a fighting game, months before Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • Although beginning in 1991 and features references to the series, the Itadaki Street series of board games received many games based on characters from the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series starting in 2004. It would also receive a crossover with Nintendo's Mario franchise much later in 2011, with Fortune Street.
  • In 1993, Koichi Nakamura's Mystery Dungeon series of roguelike games was created. It started with a title based on Torneko from Dragon Quest IV, then later in 2006 with Yangus from Dragon Quest VIII as a child. It was eventually spun off into its own franchise with an original subseries titled Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer in 1995, and also began to cross over with both popular and smaller series: Squaresoft's Final Fantasy (as Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon) in 1997; Bandai's Gundam (as Mobile Suit Gundam: Mystery Dungeon), Namco's The Tower of Druaga (as The Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigi no Dungeon), and Konami's TwinBee (as TwinBee Dungeon) in 2004; Game Freak's Pokémon (as Pokémon Mystery Dungeon) in 2005; and Atlus's Etrian Odyssey (as Etrian Mystery Dungeon) in 2015.
  • In 1998, Yuji Horii's Dragon Quest Monsters series of monster-recruiting games was created. It is inspired of the mechanics from Dragon Quest V with Pokémon-esque gameplay, and features Terry from Dragon Quest VI, and later Keifer from Dragon Quest VII as children, along with other original characters. Later in 2006, the Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker set of games follow the same mechanics from the aforementioned series but with a new protagonist for each title, and feature 3D environments. In 2022, Dragon Quest Treasures participates in this series with Erik and Mia from Dragon Quest XI as children, though its gameplay also borrows from other action games such as the 3D Super Mario titles.[1]
  • In 2003, Yoshiki Watabe's Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest series of action-adventure games was created. It is focused on the franchise's most iconic monster, Slime, and the main protagonist that incarnates it named Rocket.
  • In 2007, the Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road set of arcade games was created. The games dispense real-life cards representing monsters, which are then used to take part in battle.
  • Also in 2007, the action role-playing game Dragon Quest Swords was released for the Wii, and uses the Wii Remote's internal motion sensor.
  • In 2015, the Dragon Quest Heroes set of hack and slash game was created. It is based on the mechanics of the Dynasty Warriors series, featuring playable original characters, and side characters from Dragon Quest IV onward.
  • In 2016, the Dragon Quest Builders set of sandbox games was created. It combines the setting of Dragon Quest with crafting and survival mechanics similar to Minecraft.
  • In 2017, a card battling game inspired by Hearthstone titled Dragon Quest Rivals was released for mobile devices. It features many characters and monsters throughout the Dragon Quest mainline and spin-off series. It was later renamed to Dragon Quest Rivals Ace in 2020, with an additional single player mode. Both games would be shut down later in 2021.
  • In 2019, an augmented reality, role-playing game inspired by Pokémon GO titled Dragon Quest Walk was released for mobile devices exclusively in Japan, along with its service.
  • In 2020, a tactical game titled Dragon Quest Tact was released for mobile devices in Japan, then worldwide in 2021. It features new and early monsters throughout the Dragon Quest series.

Remakes of the mainline entries have appeared on Nintendo's handheld systems, starting with Dragon Quest I, II, and III on the Game Boy Color in 2000. On the Nintendo DS, there was Dragon Quest IV in 2007, V in 2008, and VI in 2010. Then, remakes of Dragon Quest VII and VIII were released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Finally, Dragon Quest III would obtain another remake, titled Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake. All of the remakes include reworked graphics and new gameplay features. The latest released installment of the core series, Dragon Quest XI, was released in Japan in July 2017, and internationally in September 2018; an enhanced port initially for Nintendo Switch (as Dragon Quest XI S) released worldwide in September 2019, with enhanced Switch ports of Dragon Quest I, II, and III following. Since 2021, the latest installment of the core series is titled Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate, as it was announced in a teaser during the livestream of the franchise's 35th anniversary.

According to Masahiro Sakurai, fans of the Dragon Quest series had long requested for representation in Super Smash Bros., but he initially considered it impossible. With some encouragement from Nintendo, Sakurai created a passionate proposal to Square Enix, asking to include the Hero in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; though he would have agreed to compromise if he was given permission only for a character like Slime, he felt that the Hero was the best option, even knowing the hurdles that would come with their inclusion. To his surprise, Square Enix agreed almost immediately: they appreciated Sakurai's passion and felt Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was similar to Dragon Quest XI S as games that celebrate and combine elements from across their respective histories.

According to Yuji Horii, while there were restrictions in the past over having past heroes interact and fight with each other, it has become less strict over time, especially after the launch of Dragon Quest Rivals. Knowing the popularity of Smash, he personally wanted the Hero to join the series. Sakurai's initial proposal had only included the Heroes of Dragon Quest XI and Dragon Quest IIIXI's being the default due to being the latest installment and to promote its then upcoming Nintendo Switch port, and III's due to being the most iconic Hero of the series—but Horii allowed more to be included. Initially, Sakurai considered having all eight costumes be different heroes, but time constraints resulted in there only being four. The Hero of Dragon Quest VIII was added due to his popularity overseas. The Hero from Dragon Quest V was considered, but was ultimately decided against due to his default weapon being a staff instead of a sword; the Hero from Dragon Quest I was similarly passed over, and the final choice ended up being the Hero of Dragon Quest IV.[2]

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

The long-running popular JRPG series makes its Super Smash Bros. series debut as the second DLC franchise in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1 and the second Square Enix property to be represented by a playable fighter after Final Fantasy. While the content present is representative of the series at large, the bulk of the representation comes from Dragon Quest XI, as it was released to commemorate the then-upcoming release of the enhanced Nintendo Switch version. In addition to one newcomer, the series is represented by a stage with some minor cameos, eight music tracks, several Mii Fighter costumes, and several Spirits. Most of the content from this franchise was released in the version 4.0.0 update on July 30th, 2019.

Fighter[edit]

  • 72.
    HeroIcon(SSBU).png
    Hero (DLC): As a single newcomer, four protagonists from across the Dragon Quest series join the roster as alternate character costumes of each other, all serving as the second newcomer from the Fighters Pass Vol. 1. The Luminary from Dragon Quest XI is the default, with Erdrick from Dragon Quest III, Solo from Dragon Quest IV, and Eight from Dragon Quest VIII appearing as alternate character costumes. In battle, he uses a sword and shield for standard attacks but amplifies his moveset using magic; he has a limited supply of magic points (MP) to cast a variety of spells ranging from Frizz, Zap, and Woosh, with even more spells available from a command selection menu. The Final Smash calls upon even more heroes from across the series to unleash Gigaslash. He was released alongside Yggdrasil's Altar, 8 music tracks and the Dragon Quest series Spirits on July 30th, 2019 as part of Challenger Pack 2.

Stage[edit]

  • YggdrasilsAltarIconSSBU.png
    Yggdrasil's Altar (DLC): A pivotal location based on the area of the same name from Dragon Quest XI. This stage is a platform flying over Erdrea, the geographical setting of Dragon Quest XI. The floating platform tours around the landscape to locations such as Haven's Above and the Ruins of Dundrasil. Occasionally other platforms containing chests with items may appear, though the chest may also turn out to be a Mimic. Slimes, Tockles, and the white whale-like creature Cetacea cameo in the background. The stage was released on July 30th, 2019 as part of Challenger Pack 2.

Mii Costumes[edit]

The following Mii costumes are available as downloadable content, as part of version 4.0.0, within the second wave of Mii Fighter outfits along with Challenger Pack 2 and Hero. They were released on July 31st, 2019.

Outfits[edit]

Headgear[edit]

  • Veronica Wig (DLC): Veronica's red wizard's hat and haircut, sourced from Dragon Quest XI.
  • Erdrick Helmet (DLC): Erdrick's helmet from the Erdrick Equipment set. It existed since the first Dragon Quest game.
  • Martial Artist Wig (DLC): The Martial Artist's male and female haircuts from Dragon Quest III.
  • Slime Hat (DLC): A headgear featuring the iconic Slime from the franchise. When worn, the headgear jiggles whenever the Mii moves.

Music[edit]

Source Tracks[edit]

Victory fanfare[edit]

  • Victory! Hero (DLC): A sequenced rearrangement of the ending phrase of Overture, the recurring main theme of the series. This arrangement, like most of the other Dragon Quest music, is sourced from Theatrhythm Dragon Quest.

Other[edit]

  • Extended orchestral versions of Overture and Adventure from the Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite were used in the Hero's reveal trailer, but are not selectable in-game. This is likely due to licensing complications with the late series composer Koichi Sugiyama, who retains the rights to the orchestrated Dragon Quest soundtracks instead of Square Enix themselves.

Spirits[edit]

Media with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series[edit]

The Dragon Quest universe has media represented throughout the Super Smash Bros. series with a total of 20 games and medias. The latest game represented in this universe is Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age: Definitive Edition, released on September 27, 2019.

Trivia[edit]

  • Dragon Quest, EarthBound, Final Fantasy, and Persona are the only universes without playable characters from the first installment in their series in Super Smash Bros.
  • Dragon Quest is one of two third-party universes in Ultimate to not include any arrangements created for Smash Bros., likely due to legal issues with then composer Koichi Sugiyama. This trait is shared with Kingdom Hearts, although the latter's victory theme is arranged rather than sourced.
    • Prior to the release of Challenger Pack 8, Final Fantasy also held this distinction aside from Cloud's victory theme. Notably, all of these universes are developed by Square Enix.

References[edit]