Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince will soon bring back the beloved portable Dragon Quest sub-series with a returning and rather popular protagonist. Not only is it coming to the west, which is a rarity for Monsters, but it marks its debut on the Nintendo Switch after multiple chapters on 3DS and DS.
It also marks the 25th anniversary of the series, as the original Dragon Quest Monsters launched on Game Boy Color on Sept. 25, 1998.
To know more about this promising game, of which you can already read my hands-on preview, I talked to producer Kento Yokota at Tokyo Game Show.
Giuseppe Nelva: Why bring Psaro back after so many years?
Kento Yokota: Psaro is a popular character in the Dragon Quest series as a whole, so when planning for a new game and discussing who the main character should be with the writer, his name came up.
Nelva: Is the story of the game officially part of Psaro's story or should it be considered a side story?
Yokota: Psaro is the main character of this game, so the story progresses from his perspective.
Nelva: I mean, sometimes games explore alternative realities with the same characters. Is this the case, or should we consider this the official prequel of Dragon Quest IV?
Yokota: Timeline-wise it's around the same time or age as Dragon Quest IV, but the story diverges from the original game and is an alternate version. It's the same character, but the settings and history may not be exactly like those of the original game.
Nelva: What do you think is the most important element of evolution from previous DQM games?
Yokota: With Dragon Quest Monsters, one of the main elements is the monster synthesis system, in which you can fuse two monsters to create a single new monster. However, since there are so many different types of monsters, it proved to be difficult to create new monsters, and players had to go through the trouble of researching which monsters could be created through what combinations.
Since it was difficult to research which monsters to create, there was the inconvenience of people having to look online or on strategy sites and exchange information in order to synthesize to their liking.
This time around, there's actually a feature that enables you to search what kind of monsters can be created from all the different monsters you have. There's no need to check online etc., since it'll be easy to search for a monster you like in-game and create it.
Nelva: The game is for Nintendo Switch: Is there any possibility that there will be more platforms in the future?
Yokota: There are no plans at this time to bring the game to platforms other than the Switch.
Nelva: Is it because you think the Switch is a suitable platform, or are there circumstances behind it like a deal?
Yokota: Dragon Quest Monsters has always been released on Nintendo's handheld platforms, so the Switch was a natural progression, and there were some technical aspects that were considered as well.
Nelva: An interesting aspect of the game is the changing seasons. Why did you think that would be a good feature?
Yokota: What's different compared to the previous Dragon Quest Monsters series, which has a long history, would definitely be the changing seasons, for one thing. The visuals and art are much more colorful compared to previous titles as well.
The story is also richer compared to previous Dragon Quest Monsters titles.
Nelva: Personally, what is your favorite monster in the game?
Yokota: Killing Machine.
Nelva: Why do think DQM has been so successful over the years?
Yokota: The mainline Dragon Quest series is about human characters moving the story forward, but the Monsters series is unique in that the focus is on monsters, and they are the main characters.
The monster artwork created by Akira Toriyama is extremely popular, so I think the fact that this is a game where you can recruit these monsters for your team is the secret to this series' popularity.
And the synthesis system where you can create new monsters, enjoying the sort of chemistry of A + B = C is probably something that players find very fun/interesting.
Nelva: Many games that used to be turn-based are implementing action elements, while you kept it purely turn-based. Why did you do it this way?
Yokota: To put it simply, there are those in the Dragon Quest series fan base who might feel that action-based controls are too difficult. This is one of the main reasons that any Dragon Quest title, not just those in the Monsters series, is turn-based.
Nelva: DQM used to be on the DS or 3DS before, but now it's on the Switch. Is there anything the more powerful platform allowed you to do that you couldn't do before?
Yokota: The previous title was on the 3DS, but since there's more room now to display things, we increased the number of monsters on the field and such.
Nelva: Was it challenging to fit the game on a single screen instead of two?
Yokota: It definitely was. We had been developing for a long time for two screens, so the design needed to go through some changes in order to fit everything on a single screen.
Nelva: Is there anything else you would like to tell the fans about this game?
Yokota: This is the first time in a while that a Dragon Quest Monsters title will be released overseas.
Fans may not have played a Monsters game in some time, and they can expect an evolved system, as well as other considerations we put into making this game as enjoyable as ever, so please look forward to its release.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince will be released exclusively for Nintendo Switch on December 1, 2023.