Suddenly finding out that Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 was coming out soon, I went out on the net to find out more information about it. Along the way another Dragon Quest game caught my eye - another game I didn't even know existed: Dragon Quest Monsters Battle Road Victory. It's part of a series of Arcade games spinning off from Dragon Quest VIII. Apparently you play the game with physical real cards, with Monster Data and other info on it, and use those cards to play in the game; where you can also win more cards. It's a popular arcade style, but one laced with an inherent tie-in scheme of combining arcade games with card collecting, getting you to play to win more cards. It's a system that while not impossible to implement in America (Yu-Gi-Oh being a prime example), it immediately seems too gimmicky for more experienced fans. Which seems like a shame, because it looks like a wonderful game I'd love to play.
Dragon Quest Monsters Battle Road had a sequel, Battle Road II Legends, which is what the home version "Battle Road Victory" essentially is. Released on the Wii, the game lets you use your Nintendo DS or Cell Phone to send a photo of a card to the system, allowing the use of that card in the game. Here's a video that gives you a good example of what the game is like:
Beyond it's inherent gimmick, it just looks like a gorgeous game, with a fun mix of versus style gameplay with RPG turned based fighting. I really wish we in America could get a chance to play it. That seems very unlikely, though. This game is inherently made for the Japanese market - in addition to it heavily relying on the immediate fan recognition and notoriety Dragon Quest enjoys in that country. Square-Enix have made some valiant and ever increasingly successful campaigns to bring Dragon Quest to America -- but something of this nature is inherently a tough sell in a foreign market.
While Dragon Quest might not be as popular in America as it is in Japan, the art style of Akira Toriyama is very recognizable - and Dragon Ball is quite popular in America, practically sparking the Anime and Manga craze of the late 90s and early 2000. The connection between Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball, though, is often lost on more casual fans -- annoyingly so, often thinking that Dragon Quest is just stealing DBZ's art style. This kind of game, though, could help connect those dots more for people - and give Dragon Quest a boost in popularity.
I think, released on the Wii, this game could work, and sell in an American market. The one major change, though, would have to be the removal of the scanning card system. I'm not saying loose the card system, but perhaps change it so cards are made available through NPCs (Non-Playable-Characters), and an online versus mode against other fans. The obvious stumbling block to doing something like this, even if Square-Enix where so inclined, is that a cardless version of the game could cut into profits in Japan. (Not a lot; it would have to be imported to even do that.) To counter that, I'd just suggest waiting a while. Battle Road Victory came out in 2010; with localization, voice acting, and alterations to gameplay, by the time it would be made for State-side audiences, it would be yesterday's news in Japan.
Again, this is all day-dreaming on my part. Yet I really loved the Dragon Quest series - and hope to see it continue to make it over to American markets. It may still be niche audience - but it's growing, in part because of the aggressive marketing campaigns we saw with the likes of Dragon Quest IX. Dragon Quest X is coming out sometime next year I believe - on the Wii - so at least Dragon Quest isn't going anywhere yet, and that we are consistently getting the major titles of the franchise, and spins offs like DQ Swords, Rocket Slime, and Dragon Quest Monsters on the DS.
Here's a link to an Anime Trailer, featuring the gorgeous art and animation I was talking about. It shows all the main heroes from the various Dragon Quest games.
This video gives you more detail about the features of the game. It's in Japanese, with no subtitles - but it's pretty self explanatory.