If I spot a rogue kid out in the wild, nine times out of ten, they're talking about Minecraft. This isn't an exaggeration—it's an inevitability. Just as Nintendo's 8-bit machine had a stranglehold on my generation, millions of kids are just as entranced by Mojang's impossibly successful phenomenon.
I've seen plenty of people around my age act pretty dismissive towards Minecraft, which feels more than a little short-sighted to me. If anything, I wish Minecraft had been around when I was a kid; I always dreamed of playing with a set of infinite LEGOs, and today's generation of children can essentially have exactly this for just 27 American dollars.
I've tinkered with Minecraft off and on since around 2011, and while I'd love to get into the game, the overwhelming amount of Things to Do coupled with my lack of free time makes anything more ambitious than poking around an unthinkable prospect. Shave 25 years off my life and give me a series of endless grade-school summers, though, and I'm sure I'd be spending most of my waking moments lost in Minecraft's world.
And so we come to Dragon Quest Builders. Series creator and guiding hand Yuji Horii has always gone where the money is, so it's not surprising to see a Dragon Quest spin-off lean so heavily on Minecraft; remember, the Dragon Quest Monsters series was largely engineered to take advantage of late '90s Pokemon fever. I initially dismissed Builders as a pretty shameful Minecraft clone, but after watching the admittedly gameplay-free trailer, I'm starting to see this new creation as something a little more worthwhile.
From the looks of thing, Builders appears to be Minecraft with an express purpose—which may be against the philosophy of Minecraft, but whatever. But this aspect, combined with the familiar trappings of Square-Enix's legendary RPG series, could be all people like me need to give this take on Minecraft a chance. I actually had a somewhat similar experience with Final Fantasy XIV: I tried a few MMORPGs before, decided they weren't for me, then decided to give FFXIV a spin.
Of course, it helps that it's an extremely well-designed MMO, but the Final Fantasy-themed elements made learning how to play this style of game much less intimidating. And that's how I see Dragon Quest Builders: Kids will come to it because they're Minecraft-crazy, and older folks can use the comfort food elements of Dragon Quest to figure out what this Minecraft thing is all about. Even if Builders is slightly shameless, it definitely feels like a win-win scenario to me.
That said, we don't know if Builders—due in Japan January 28—will make it to the States, though the Minecraft hooks could make it more viable than a standard Dragon Quest release. For the past five years, Square-Enix has been reluctant about bringing more Dragon Quest to the West, and future releases may hinge on the popularity of the upcoming Dragon Quest Heroes, due to hit the States October 13th. And, as trite as the expression is, this may be one of the few cases voting with your dollars actually works.