Did Square Enix Make a Mistake by Not Putting Dragon Quest XI on the 3DS?

AXE OF THE BLOOD GOD | Kat and Nadia discuss Dragon Quest XI, The Alliance Alive, and more.

Article by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey and Nadia Oxford. You can find the previous episodes here.

Dragon Quest XI has finally been announced for America! But wait, it's not coming to the Nintendo 3DS. Is Square Enix making a mistake? [download link here]

The news of DQXI's impending arrival in the U.S. stirred frustration among 3DS owners looking forward to a portable 3DS. Nintendo's venerable handheld is 7 years old now, but it's still receiving new entries, and the lack of a 3DS entry seems like an oversight. Or is it? Nadia and I discuss.

But that's not all! The Alliance Alive is also out on the Nintendo 3DS, and it has some big names from JRPG history behind it. Nadia and I discuss its merits, its history, and what "nostalgic JRPGs" are being underserved in the rush to mine 8 and 16-bit nostalgia.

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Show Description

The Alliance Alive is out on 3DS, but it won't be joined by Dragon Quest XI. Kat and Nadia talk about the spiritual successor to Legend of Legacy [5:00] before moving on to the news that Dragon Quest XI will be coming to Steam and PS4, but not the 3DS [25:15]. Is Square Enix making a mistake? And amid the continued stream of "nostalgic JRPGs," what form of JRPG is being underserved?

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at Check it out!

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Comments 26

  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #1 cldmstrsn 5 months ago
    I totally get why they arent bringing the 3DS version over it just costs a lot more money and like you said in another article they are yet again trying to get DQ to catch on fire over here so going with the "best" looking one makes sense. Do I wish they had both versions? Absolutely!! but I am still excited that it is coming over at all.
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  • Avatar for FTLMantis #2 FTLMantis 5 months ago
    I feel like modern JRPGs are built with a revisionist, Final Fantasy emphasizing history in mind. Developers look at the sales of JRPGs, see that Final Fantasy games (especially the less experimental ones) sold best and decide that this is what they should be building from. What they maybe don't see is that, while Final Fantasy reached out into the mainstream best, the hardcore fans of the genre who are still looking for new JRPGs to play enjoyed the variations of the JRPGs that came out in the 90s more than they're attached to any individual one. The fun of that period was the experimentation and the wide differences between games and the systems that drove them. Even Square was aware of this and changed up the Final Fantasy formula pretty drastically between every set of games. I think players don't want a Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy 7 clone- they want a game that takes the simple elements that were available back then and does something clever with them.

    Which is basically what Kat said, but it's something that's been bouncing around in my head for a while as well.

    I'm also a little frustrated that the Switch DQ11 is coming out later. They've clearly been planning a Switch version for a long time now, and the game has been out for a while in Japan. What's taking them so long?Edited 2 times. Last edited April 2018 by FTLMantis
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #3 TheWildCard 5 months ago
    No 3DS version doesn't surprise me. If you want to make inroad in expanding Western market and make it a big deal, handheld isn't going to do it, especially not an old one. Honestly for as successful a platform as the 3DS is Square hasn't pushed titles on it that much. They let the Bravely Default team do their thing and there is a couple Dragon Quest remakes/ports, but not a whole lot besides that. Seems like they place more bets on mobile and AAA titles.
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  • Avatar for moochan #4 moochan 5 months ago
    Sad there's no 3DS but it's not surprising. They want to be like Monster Hunter and focus on the major console with 3DS being a bit too long in the tooth. That being said never count out fan translators if you want to enjoy the 3DS version since the text I think is the same just the visuals are different so that's one major step done for them.

    As for why Dragon Quest never came here I feel people keep forgetting the audience for the Famicom was much different than NES here. In Japan everyone had a Famicom from kids to adults so a massive text heavy game with lots of numbers is easier to swallow for people in their late teens to adults than the little kids that was playing NES here in the west. Which I feel is the reason why it took until the PSX to get people really into JRPG. Because 10 years pasts which meant those kids became adults and could enjoy JRPGs like their Japanese counterpart. Yes there were lots of people that played Final Fantasy 1, 4, and 6 but even Square Enix says the numbers was never that hot. So when Enix tried again after the NES was Dragon Warrior 7 (which I honestly say might be my favorite game of all time) which sadly was a 16 bit style game a few months before Final Fantasy 10 at a time when people didn't really have the fondness for old school graphics.

    I really do hope this works out well for them because there was those couple of years of Dragon Quest games coming out for 3DS but refuse to release it here until western fans were finally able to convince them to at least give us Dragon Quest 7 and 8 on 3DS. And I really don't want another couple of years of no Dragon Quest localization again.
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  • Avatar for One_Vurfed_Gwrx #5 One_Vurfed_Gwrx 5 months ago
    I am surprised Nintendo didn't grab DQ XI for 3DS like they did with VI. It would have made a fitting final big game for the format. The game looks distinctive enough that I doubt it would affect PS4 sales too much. Not sure how similar the scripts are but with there being a save transfer code option I would imagine it could be similar enough to be straight forward to localise the differences. I don't know how well recent 3DS games have sold but I am disappointed that we aren't getting the 3DS one as I don't really like the look of the PS4 one. The Switch will likely be a PS4 port too. The 3DS one would have been a preorder, the PS4 version definitely isn't, although I will wait for feedback to give it a chance.
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  • Avatar for Dpullam #6 Dpullam 5 months ago
    Dragon Quest 11 is a huge blessing for me personally. Perhaps they decided to make a Nintendo 3DS of the game at a time where they thought the system would still prosper. This game has been in development for a while after all. Part of me still wishes they would have brought it to the west though, even if it is the version I wouldn't play myself. One more epic hoorah for the 3DS would have been awesome from a third party.Edited April 2018 by Dpullam
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  • Avatar for Arvis-Jaggamar #7 Arvis-Jaggamar 5 months ago
    I really am surprised how many comments I see decrying the lack of the 3DS version, especially in light of the fact that the PS4/Steam version plays identically in its mechanics and has the same story. In light of a Switch version coming, it seems like it's literally *just* the appearance that is driving this disappointment. Is this Reverse Graphics Whoredom?
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  • Avatar for MarioIV #8 MarioIV 5 months ago
    Yes, it's a mistake.
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  • Avatar for Drachmalius #9 Drachmalius 5 months ago
    I've never really gotten into Dragon Quest games, but admire them from a distance. I'm glad they're deciding to release a Steam version over the 3DS, its the only way I would realistically ever try it. But its a bummer that series fans don't get to choose between the portable version or the "full" version.

    Switch would've been the perfect compromise, but it seems like they were to far into development by the time that system gained popularity.
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  • Avatar for One_Vurfed_Gwrx #10 One_Vurfed_Gwrx 5 months ago
    @Arvis-Jaggamar Personally, from what I have seen of the PS4 version it seems to be lacking something, perhaps charm, but it just looks a bit generic. The 3DS version's mix of styles looked more interesting. And as people have said, handheld is a bonus with the Switch likely being a watered down PS4 port. I could remote play it to my Linx Vision or Vita but I like the style of the 3DS one more. If I find away to hack my o3dsxl without having to tamper with my n3ds (as transferring forced an update too far for the easy methods) Imight just import the Japanese version as I am competent in Japanese but I would have preferred a proper localisation.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #11 MetManMas 5 months ago
    I have rather strong opinions of what I want from retraux RPGs. Here are some of them.

    1) Loosen the choke chain! A big thing I like about old jRPGs, and especially old Dragon Quest games, is that they allowed diverging from the critical path. Whether you'd run into a broken bridge or guards or monsters you couldn't handle, you usually had at least some room to get out and go exploring. In the best cases, your exploration would be rewarded with optional towns and dungeons.

    More and more jRPGs these days nag at you if you're supposed to GO PLACE then try to go everywhere else but PLACE, and I hate it.

    2) Don't phone in the dungeons. Some of my fondest memories of jRPGs are really cool dungeons, whether in layout or art design or puzzles or a combination of the three. The quickest way to lose me is to have dungeons be little more than a pile of samey corridors.

    3) Don't copy the same basic anime art style! Seriously, every other anime jRPG looks the frickin' same these days. If you want to go anime that's fine, but take notes from games like Chrono Cross, Xenoblade 1, and the modern Zelda games on how to be anime while also having a distinct look. Don't just copy Tales or Trails or Persona.

    4) Please don't streamline towns too much in third person jRPGs! Towns are the places where the player goes to restock supplies and gather information, but they're also the places that make the game world feel more like, well, a world. Not all jRPGs need towns, but please, don't half-ass them if you have them. There's more to jRPG world-building than cutscenes and fighting 'round the world.

    Speaking of cutscenes, that brings me to my next few demands-uh, points.

    5) Don't be too verbose! Seriously, show some restraint. A cutscene of nothing but talking running for several minutes with little to no player input should be the exception, not the norm!

    6) Stop with the talking pictures! Look, I get that 3D choreography takes time and money, but watching photos of anime people or 3D models talking in the same left to right side view just makes boring cutscenes even more boring. I understand if you can't animate the models much but please, just have the talking done on the existing background instead of in some alternate visual novel amateur theatre dimension.

    Grandia used its talking heads to compliment its cutscenes, not replace them.

    7) Not every jRPG needs voice acting! Seriously.

    8) Not every jRPG needs to be 800 billion hours long, either! Short is not bad, and if the only way you can make the game longer is make the player do all the dungeons again maybe you should just save that for an alternate difficulty setting or something.

    9) Playing things safe isn't bad, either! Not every jRPG needs a crafting system. Not every jRPG needs a quest list. Not every jRPG needs to reinvent the turn-based battle wheel.

    10) And please, PLEASE don't be afraid to be weird when it comes to what can be a party member! Flaming cougar/coyote hybrids, sentient voodoo dolls, lobster people, fat cats, cartoon ducks, plant monster dolls, fat robots, snowmen, lizards, sentai aliens, molemen, yetis, bunny girls, frog people, skeleton clowns, it's all good!
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #12 Gamer-Law 5 months ago
    Short answer — it was an entirely unforced error for Square not to bring the 3DS version west. Nintendo had published previous DQ installments on its consoles, so if cost was Square’s motivation, they could have sought assistance from Nintendo.

    Switch may be all the rage these days, but the 3DS retains an incredible install base and that version of DQ XI has a charm that the PS4 version simply lacks. Penny wise, pound foolish decision on Square’s part.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #13 riderkicker 5 months ago
    @cldmstrsn Yeah, I played through the Zenithian Trilogy and was blown away by the many new words I had to learn to understand the puns. Square Enix is not going to pay both Plus Alpha and Shloc to localize DQXI on two different systems. Edited April 2018 by riderkicker
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #14 riderkicker 5 months ago
    Haha, Kat, despite your grasp on the Japanese language, you still pronounced Oreshika like a Russian.
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  • Avatar for slimehunter84 #15 slimehunter84 5 months ago
    @One_Vurfed_Gwrx I've seen some comments saying something to the effect of "I'll wait for the Switch release or nothing" but there could still be complications with the aforementioned port.... I mean, we know there already are issues with it.
    I feel that a lot of potential "Switch-only" people would otherwise be buying the 3DS version if it was available. Edited 2 times. Last edited April 2018 by slimehunter84
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  • Avatar for slimehunter84 #16 slimehunter84 5 months ago
    @Gamer-Law They may still have time to discuss a Nintendo-published 3DS port for the West if they haven't already. It wouldn't make any sense to me if SE did not at least approach Nintendo about this.

    So there's 3 possibilities: 1. They already had that meeting and Nintendo rejected the publishing proposal this time around, 2. They haven't yet approached each other (unlikely), or 3. they are still in the private negotiations stage.

    Unless some one can provide the verbatim (please), I haven't seen any words from Square saying that they are absolutely not pursuing this. They've only said from a business standpoint it doesn't make sense for them to spend resources localizing it themselves. Edited April 2018 by slimehunter84
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #17 Jonnyboy407 5 months ago
    Ok, The Alliance Alive. I'm striving for succinctness but bear with me.

    I'll start by saying I really liked Legend of Legacy. I'm surprised to hear they were trying to recapture the nostalgia of 90s RPGs because what they ended up with was an intriguing game that was in many ways antithetical to the pillars of RPGs - being completely bereft of narrative, an unpredictable character progression system reminiscent of SaGa games or FF2, and an exploration system that confined you to certain locations until you've searched all the books until you've discovered the one secret you need to move on. All these elements wove together a game unlike any other on 3DS: a game that knew what it wanted to be and did not give a fuck if you liked it or not.

    In the Alliance Alive, FuRyu lost their nerve. They've readopted the familiar RPG tropes and piled more systems on. They're trying to be more crowd pleasing. This game has so little resistance or ideas or vision that there won't be anything to remember it by. I'll always remember Legend of Legacy because that game had vision. I'll remember Alliance Alive as Legend of Legacy's toothless follow up.

    That said, I enjoy the battles and the little dungeons I've encountered so far. And one quick correction - battles are not random. Perhaps they will be once I get further into it. But that would be weird.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #18 Jonnyboy407 5 months ago
    @slimehunter84 yeah, I think all your contingencies are plausable.

    Nintendo shouldn't have to do the legwork for SE every time they bring a DQ to 3DS though, right? It's SE. They're not a tiny indie studio or mid-tier developer. Geez, throw your fans who have 3DS's a friggin bone. Atlus can handle it but a Juggernaut like SE can't?

    Anyway, that's my Hawt Take. DQ has never been my jam (unless we're talking Dairy Queen) so I don't have a horse in this race. But I feel for people who wanted to play the 3DS version.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #19 TheWildCard 5 months ago
    Guys, Nintendo isn't going to step in on this. Publishing a DQ game exclusive to your system is vastly different than localizing a third-wheel version of a game that is going to be overshadowed by prettier versions on competitors' platforms.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #20 donkeyintheforest 5 months ago
    (I think this comment is an episode late; I'm catching up on my backlog)

    There is a really good non-Japanese first person dungeon crawler RPG called Legend of Grimrock. It also has a sequel that is great as well, but spends a lot more time outside of dungeons, and the larger area makes it a little easier to get lost. Both games are grid based and you have a party. They're really fun.

    Lichdom: Battlemge is another first person fantasy game; it leans a little more toward first person shooter, but has a pretty cool spellcrafting system that is is deep enough to consider it at least part RPG. And it's gorgeous. They made a patch to simplify the magic system, but you can use the old one too. I played it on a 6 year old PC and it ran great, but I hear it's borderline unplayable on consoles (at least when it came out).

    The original Xbox Bard's Tale was pretty fun from what I remember. It was fairly clever and subverted rpg expectations of the time.Edited April 2018 by donkeyintheforest
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #21 SatelliteOfLove 5 months ago
    If ranbats are like DQ IX's

    Where there are enemies that run faster than you

    That randomly appear

    Then they are VISIBLE RANBATS.
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #22 Gamer-Law 5 months ago
    While only 7 or 8 hours in, I am finding The Alliance Alive to be a vastly better game than many outlets (Nintendolife aside) have suggested. The story may not be genre-defining, but it is well-developed and far more interesting than certain big budget titles of recent year (cough, cough...Final Fantasy XV).

    Combat is where Alliance Alive really shines. Comparisons to games like SaGa Frontier and Romancing SaGa are both welcome and appropriate. Traditional leveling up has been replaced with a system that upgrades skills as they are used in battle.

    Alliance Alive ranked among my most anticpated releases of 2018 (with Octopath Traveler and Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology) and it has not disappointed. Nostalgia may be a powerful force, but the game has more going for it than fond memories of years past. With a little luck, we will soon see Jeremy authoring a piece that highlights the game’s strengths—similar to what he did for Legend of Legacy: April 2018 by Gamer-Law
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #23 Jonnyboy407 5 months ago
    @Gamer-Law I'm pleased you're digging it! I'm gonna jump back into this weekend. The battles really are fun.
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #24 Gamer-Law 5 months ago
    @Jonnyboy407 - Exactly right—the game’s combat is terrific. Given all of the negative things I have heard and read about Alliance Alive, part of me is left wondering if I am playing the same game as those people. It is too bad that this game has flown under the radar and will go unappreciated by most fans of the genre. From my perspective, it is definitely a stand out title in the 3DS library.
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  • Avatar for tvsadam #25 tvsadam 5 months ago
    I'd have happily bought it at launch, but I do understand why the 3DS version isn't coming here. DQ has just never been that big of a deal here outside of a highly dedicated but relatively small fan base (of which I have been an enthusiastic member since Nintendo Power sent me my free copy of Dragon Warrior), and a port to a system that - while highly popular and generally pretty great - has its best days well behind it doesn't make a ton of sense.

    Side note: As much as I adore this series (and I really, really do), I've just never been able to get into DQ9. I've tried on multiple occasions, and it always falls flat for me. I want to like it, but I think it's a combination of the slower pace of the game (especially at this point, even the easier battles feel like they take an eternity to get through) and the lack of personality within the player-created party.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #26 donkeyintheforest 5 months ago
    do other people not consider fire emblem to be like a japanese version of xcom (/viceversa)? also im looking forward to battletech. you're all about pc now (lol), and since the player controls the development of their mechs throughout the game its an rpg.

    real fun meandering episode
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