Topic: Dragon Quest VIII
Born in Hyogo in 1954. After graduating from the prestigious Waseda University with a major in literature, Horii-san became a freelance writer to write columns in newspapers and magazines. In 1982, he participated in the Game Programming Contest hosted by the former Enix, Co. and won a prize which led him toward the path of game designer. In 1986 Dragon Quest was released in Japan. Throughout the past nineteen years, Horii-san has continued to develop Dragon Quest sequels, making the franchise into a huge social phenomenon in Japan. The latest installment, Dragon Quest VIII, sold 4 million copies in Japan since its release in August 2004. Horii-san is now known as the father of Dragon Quest. Besides the Dragon Quest series, Horii-san is also known as the scenario writer for the legendary RPG Chrono Trigger.
play: Deep character customization, witty dialogue, ‘Horii-ism’ puzzles, simple yet engulfing stories filled with twists and 70-100 hours play times are all DQ staples, although the graphics have remained on the simple side…until now. Did you team up with Level-5 with express purpose of creating an RPG as cutting edge technically as it masterful in these other areas? (Mission accomplished by the way).
Yuji Horii: First of all, I was amazed when I saw the prototype created by Level-5. Level-5 created a 3D world generated by computer, where Akira Toriyama’s artwork came to life and was filled with a human feel, and a vast field where the player can explore as far as the eye can see. I felt that Level-5 can create what I had dreamed of since the first installment of the series. The key point was that I was able to create what I always wanted to do rather than being limited to the visual technology that was available.
Will you continue working with them? Might we see DQ9 on PS3?
I would love to continue the DQ series in various forms. However, what I always think to myself is “What kind of entertainment can I provide the players next time?” rather than “What kind of game should I make DQ IX?” At this point in time, I still don’t know if that will be “DQ IX” or if it will be developed for the PS3. Currently in Japan we are developing a cute action game called “Slime Mori Mori Dragon Quest 2” for the Nintendo DS. I have to tell you, this game is also a lot of fun.
Do you always work very closely with Akira Toriyama on monster designs?
Akira Toriyama has worked on the character design and monster design for the Dragon Quest series up to now. Since our offices are in distant locations, we are not able to speak in person so often. Instead, I will send the ideas, background stories, and rough sketch of the characters to Mr. Toriyama, which he will then incorporate into his character design. After his design comes to my attention, I would sometimes request for some retouching, but for the most of the time, the designs are exactly what I imagined or far better, so it’s pretty smooth until we complete the designs.
Although the series has been successful in the US, it is practically a religion in Japan. Have you been dissatisfied with the reception of past Dragon Quest titles in the US? To what extent was Dragon Quest 8 developed with an international audience in mind?
I believe that a game can be fun universally, and as long as people have a chance to enter into the world of a game, they should be able to understand how fun this game is. The past DQ titles showed their characters in an icon-like art, so I have to admit that not everyone was able to feel truly emotional about the game. However, thanks to Level-5, players can now enjoy the adventure more realistically. When we made the North American version, we also changed several things. For example, the menu became much more