Isn’t it Time the Erdrick Trilogy Return to North America?

Dragon Quest fans have had it rough over the years. First we were never properly introduced to the Dragon Quest series because the trademark belonged to the makers of Dungeons and Dragons so the series had to be named Dragon Warrior. Next, it took far too long for the translations to hit North America and as such the games started to look extremely dated next to games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the like. Finally we missed out on Dragon Quest V for the Super NES, even after the translation work was all but finished (or extremely close to being finished), when Enix left North America back in November 1995 due to poor sales of the Dragon Warrior series. That’s what I call rough!

North Americans were SO close to seeing this back when it was new, but alas it wasn't meant to be.
North Americans were SO close to seeing this back when it was new, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Thankfully things turned around when Enix returned in 1999. Their first game was Dragon Warrior Monsters for the Game Boy Color. That was a great time for fans of the series because the company quickly announced that Dragon Warrior VII (PS1) would be making its way to North America shortly after the debut in Japan. In reality it took a year to arrive, but at least it was released. From 1999 to DW VII’s North American release in late 2001, fans were treated to Torneko: The Last Hope (PS1), Dragon Warrior I&II (GBC), Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (GBC), and Dragon Warrior III (GBC).

While it was awesome to have the Erdrick trilogy on the GBC, it was far from ideal. Sure these remakes had tons of improvements over the originals, from expanded and fleshed out storylines, to additional classes in DW III, the biggest improvements made were to the core gameplay. Now players could talk to people, open doors, and do other super simple actions with the press of a button instead of always going into the menu system. Another major improvement was made to the core combat system. In the original games if players had two people attack the same Slime, for example, and the first team-member killed the Slime, the second member lost his turn. These remakes adjusted that so the second member would automatically attack the next enemy on-screen. We take small improvements like this for-granted, but go back and play the original games and you’ll see how cumbersome and archaic they feel.

Very few people even knew what this was when it was released, let alone give it a chance to succeed.
Very few people even knew what this was when it was released, let alone give it a chance to succeed.

The biggest problem with the Game Boy Color remakes is that they look extremely dated today. Thanks to the small screen real-estate, Enix had to make everything super tiny in order to fit what they needed to. Enemies don’t look anywhere near as detailed and smooth as they should. Also playing Game Boy games isn’t as easy as it once was. You have to go and pickup a Game Boy Advance SP (best GB ever created!), or a Game Boy Player for the GameCube. Most people would likely just emulate the games and be done with it. Even the original NES games are extremely hard to find, and ultra expensive. They have yet to appear on the Virtual Console for either the Wii or the Wii U, making them true collector’s items.

So what’s the big deal you might say, only that Dragon Quest/Warrior III is widely regarded as the best game in the entire series. While I don’t agree with that statement myself, the game has sold over six million units in Japan since it was released. That number includes the two remakes. Two remakes you say?! That’s right, the purpose of this article is basically to enlighten those that may not know, but there is indeed another, far superior remake to the Game Boy Color version, the ones released on the Super Famicom. See, there’s a reason why I mentioned Enix leaving North America in 1995 ;)

Dragon Quest I.II was released in 1993 for the Super Famicom, with Dragon Quest III hitting in 1996. These are the ultimate remakes, and have never been released outside Japan. While there are fan-translations available for emulators, it would be absolutely awesome to have Square-Enix finally release them in an official capacity. Today, DQ fans can easily purchase DQ IV, V, VI, and IX on the DS, and with any luck we’ll be able to purchase the DQ VII remake on the 3DS sometime next year. DQ VIII is also readily available for the PlayStation 2, and odds are looking good that DQ X will be released at some point on the PC. So with all these games available for fans to play, it seems a little odd to be missing the original trilogy, wouldn’t you say?

The pic says it all really.  The Super Famicom game looks even better blown up.
The pic says it all really. The Super Famicom game looks even better blown up.

Over in Japan the situation isn’t anything like it is in the rest of the world. Dragon Quest is their series. There’s really no equivalent in North America except maybe Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, but even then it’s not exactly the same. The Dragon Quest series is part of their pop culture like you couldn’t even begin to imagine. As such they get remakes every single console generation. I won’t bother listing all the remakes they’ve had that we missed out on, but they’re numerous. The original trilogy remakes were just released as part of an ultra cool 25th anniversary collection for the Wii back in 2011, that the rest of the world completely missed out on. I never bothered importing it because it required an import Wii to play, or one that cracked the region blocking. Here’s a teaser of this incredible collection.

While I knew this collection would never make its way outside Japan, I’m now wondering if Square-Enix has plans to remake the original trilogy using the DQ IV, V, and VI engine, or the newly crafted DQ VII engine for the 3DS. I know each game would be a huge success in Japan, and would increase the odds of a worldwide release. The first two parts would likely be included together if only because of how very short the original Dragon Quest is in relation to all the others. I think it’s about time the rest of the world gets to experience these excellent games in a newly minted restoration, or at the very least via the incredible Super Famicom remakes. What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Isn’t it Time the Erdrick Trilogy Return to North America?”

  1. Theres no doubt I’d be all over these. I still need to play DQ V which I plan to do in the coming weeks, and get a copy of DQ IV since I lost mine ages ago. DQ rocks and I want VII dammit!

  2. Well you have 7 ;) so you can play it right now if you want. It’s a ridiculously long game if you go to master all the various classes. I think it would take 10 years to go through all that. Realistically though the beginning is almost an adventure game and I loved how everything came together in that one. I’m hoping Square-Enix brings the Erdrick series to the 3DS as part of a new remaster because I haven’t played those in years and years.

  3. I’m still hoping for a US release of Dragon Quest VII on 3DS. I have IV, V, and VI on 3DS and thought they handled those quite well. But it’s hard to play the first three in English, unless you happen to have the original NES carts (unlikely) or the GBC remakes. I have the first on NES and I-III on GBC, but it is hard to play when the font takes up half the screen. Have you guys ever seen 16-Bit Gems on YouTube? There’s an excellent series of Dragon Quest review videos.

    1. Yeah I’ve seen it and it is indeed very well done. The host did a ton of research on the subject, which is very nice to see. I’m hoping players outside Japan can get to experience the original Roto trilogy one of these days because as you said, there’s no really easy way for us to do so. The only saving grace is emulation, but that’s not a solution.

  4. I’m baffled that they didn’t localize it considering that the assets are ready. They can easily use the fan-translations for an official release. It’s the perfect opportunity to do so and unite with DQ fans.

    1. What’s even more ridiculous Ahmed is they don’t need to use fan translations as these games were released in 2000/01 for the GBC. That work done there is perfect and could easily be transferred over to the Wii 25th Anniversary Collection. This is the type of set that should be released here as a digital-only collection on the eShop. I know people would eat it up if it was decently priced like it was in Japan. I think one of the core problems is something Steven and I were talking about the other day, that Square-Enix has unrealistic expectations for their games. They make their initial print runs way too high and then cry failure when they don’t get a 100% sell-through. They should follow the Atlus model of only releasing a small print at first and then increasing it as needed. It wouldn’t cause so much waste.

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