It's a rough ol' world out there for western Dragon Quest fans. While Square-Enix has been consistent about localizing Final Fantasy for English-speaking audiences, Dragon Quest's translation efforts have been far patchier over the years.
In an interview published in the December "Japan Special Edition" of Edge Magazine, Dragon Quest executive producer Yu Miyake acknowledged Square-Enix's general failure to support the series in the west. Nintendo Everything collected Miyake's thoughts at the start of January.
"It's a topic we have been thinking about a lot internally: the question of why Final Fantasy is so much more popular than Dragon Quest in the west," he said. He has a few theories in mind.
First, whereas Japan's nostalgia for RPGs is rooted in the Famicom's Dragon Quest releases, the west's RPG nostalgia stems from the massively successful release of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation. Second, Miyake admits Square-Enix dropped the ball on localization efforts in favor of focusing on Final Fantasy translations. Third, he believes Akira Toriyama's "cartoonish" art style may be regarded as too childish for westerners, even though the Dragon Quest series itself isn't short on mature themes.
Given the popularity of Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball Z in the west, it's interesting that Miyake believes we may find the Dragon Quest series too childish-looking for our tastes. That said, it's hard to deny Dragon Quest games usually sell modestly outside of Japan even when extra work goes into the localization process.
"We put a lot of effort into Dragon Quest VIII. We put a lot of thought on how we could appeal outside of Japan," Miyake says. "We used a lot more regional voice acting, for example. We put a lot of thought into the menu design. But we didn’t want to give up the core element that made the game Dragon Quest. The game did have some modest sales overseas, but it wasn’t anywhere close to the level of Final Fantasy sales."
Fortunately, Miyake infers that Square-Enix is hoping to be more supportive of western Dragon Quest fans. "We're trying to put a lot more effort into promoting overseas the spinoff titles we've been working on – Dragon Quest Builders and Dragon Quest Heroes – in order to soften up the ground for Dragon Quest XI."
We awarded Dragon Quest Builders multiple honors here at USgamer, and critics generally seem to love its mash-up of Minecraft and traditional RPG mechanics. Though Miyake didn't outright state Dragon Quest XI is getting a western release, it's safe to surmise Square-Enix is considering it.