We haven't seen a new mainstream Dragon Quest game in North America in over five years, with the latest being Dragon Quest IX released for DS in 2009. Sadly, Dragon Quest X still hasn't made its way outside of Japan. All I can do now is replay the old ones to remind myself of what a great franchise Dragon Quest is. The following are reasons why I just can't get enough.
Classic RPG gameplay
When the vast majority of JRPGs are opting for action gameplay, the main Dragon Quest games have stayed consistent with their turn-based menu where you select your next action. This keeps the game going at a more leisurely pace and allows you to think more strategically about what your next move will be. You won't end up accumulating a ton of skills that you never get to use like in games where you're too busy only using your favourite skill by mashing X repeatedly. Instead, you get to pick and choose how you'll react at each turn, looking at your full set of skills available to you.
No glossary required
I am a huge fan of JRPGs in general and have spent countless hours playing the Final Fantasy, Tales and Xenosaga series. One thing that these games suffer from, however, is the tendency to create convoluted back-stories for the worlds they are set in. Although unravelling these intricate plots can be entertaining, if you find yourself constantly going to the glossary to research why a Fal'Cie's depleting Eleth means they may find it tough to face the Gnosis, you're spending too much time trying to understand the world you're playing in instead of actually playing in it. I think I may have read too many glossaries and just confused the plot of three different games.
Faithful and endearing world
You can always count on a Dragon Quest game to be set in what looks like medieval England. At the start of every adventure, life seems so simple as villagers plant their crops in a quaint hamlet surrounded by mountains and greenery. Weapons don't get any more complicated than a sword and shield, and you won't find any items from an era much later than the 16th century. While other RPGs switch it up with more modern settings, I know I can go back to my Dragon Quest games to be reminded of when life was simpler.
Charming art style
Nothing puts a smile on my face like playing Dragon Quest. The chubby characters dressed in their colourful outfits give the series a light-hearted feel as they try to save the world. The legendary Akira Toriyama must design all of his art personally for me because I can't get enough of it. In fact, I bought Xbox 360's Blue Dragon based purely on the fact that Toriyama was involved with the graphics. From the monsters to the characters and the dungeons to the open worlds, everything magically comes alive.
Unique variety of monsters
Cruelcumber, Lips and Mumboh-Jumboe are just some examples of the ridiculously named enemies to be found in the Dragon Quest universe. When I'm running through a dungeon with only ten percent of my health remaining, I don't mind stopping to fight some enemies if it means I have the chance to discover a new monster. Even the wide array of slimes astounds me, and they're all so adorable! I don't know how the creators think of such crazy monsters but as long as they keep pumping them out, I'll keep coming back for more.
With the recent announcement of Dragon Quest Heroes getting a western release (even though I'm not a fan of Dynasty Warriors gameplay), I'll have to play it to get my fix while I humbly wait for a new original Dragon Quest game. I hope it'll be soon!