During our time at Thailand Game Show 2023, we had the opportunity to speak with Yuji Horii and Kento Yokota about Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince.
Interview is edited for clarity.
Yuji Horii is the creator of the Dragon Quest franchise and now serves as the General Director of the series. Meanwhile, Kento Yokota is the producer of the upcoming Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince.
The main protagonist in Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is Psaro, whom we know was a villain from Dragon Quest IV. Why focus on Psaro rather than other characters from the series?
Yuji Horii: In short, we have discussed a lot about who should be the main character in order to make the Dark Prince. After going through various candidates, we thought that it would be better to have a villain this time and they would be quite suitable for a master of monster.
Kento Yokota: There are several reasons. First, Psaro is a demon, a ruler, an existing character that players follow, as well as being quite a popular character. This will be a story that will be good for Psaro, as the main character who leads the monsters, not as the hero.
Since this Psaro is the same Psaro from Dragon Quest IV. Is he a redeemed protagonist or are there still antagonistic characters in him?
Yuji Horii: Originally Psaro was a character of tragedy. However, as you play the game, you come to like Psaro.
Kento Yokota: Psaro is acting with his thoughts and perception of justice, so rather than doing anything wrong, he is acting based on his own beliefs.
We know there will be more than 500 monsters in the game but are the players able to collect ‘em all in a single playthrough? What is the replayability like?
Kento Yokota: Well, the story itself has a sort of downtime in the middle section and of course an ending.
However, you can still continue to collect monsters with the same save data after completing the game and that depends on the player. There are people who spend more than 100 hours aiming to collect more than 500 monsters and get full completion. That said, it will take a lot of time to do that, so go collect as much as you like and enjoy yourself.
Monsters in Dragon Quest are always cute. While designing these monsters, what is the main philosophy behind them?
Yuji Horii: I am the writer, I make the monsters, naming them and deciding their strength. Then, eventually more and more are being born.
Kento Yokota: When creating new monsters, we always talk with Horii-san about what kind of monsters to make, and to design, and we always decide the name together. Of course, Akira Toriyama-san is also involved.
Aside from the returning monsters, how about the Synthesized Monsters? How did the team come up with the combined monsters?
Yuji Horii: Well, each monster has various parameters, such as strength, utility, and so on. By blending them together, the skills will be taken over, and players can decide which skill to keep.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince now features changing seasons. What is the thought process behind it?
Kento Yokota: Since past titles, Dragon Quest has always had monsters of many characteristics and designs. There are monsters made of snow and prefer the winter, there are monsters related to flowers, and so on. There have been no seasons in Dragon Quest until now, but since seasons now change, monsters will blend into the environment and create interesting interactions.
It is the 25th anniversary of the Dragon Quest Monsters series, what made The Dark Prince stand out more compared to the older titles?
Kento Yokota: Well, in Monsters, we fight together with familiars from the Dragon Quest series and that part has not changed.
Of course, there are some aspects that have evolved and grown systematically, such as the Synthesis combination system. This in itself has offered some challenges for us in development but has become an important mechanic to the Monsters series.
There are also some important elements such as characters returning from Dragon Quest IV as well as the new stories.
Dragon Quest series has a rich history and extremely loyal fans. How do you balance the series legacy while still introducing new innovative elements?
Kento Yokota: Quite a tricky question. Well, to capture the Dragon Quest’s essence, we talk to Horii-san a lot. Horii-san is the original author, so if he thinks it feels like Dragon Quest then it captures the Dragon Quest-ness.
I think the brand is maintained by communicating and discussing a lot. When it comes to systems, games, and gameplay that we want to create, we propose new ideas, get feedback from Horii-san, and go on from there.
The Dragon Quest series has been going on since 1986 with many main games and spin-offs. Would you say Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is a good entry point for someone completely new to the series?
Yuji Horii: That is how I always intend to make it, to have every Dragon Quest a good first stepping stone into the series. For example, the setting is always, the princess, the demon king, no matter where you start.
Dragon Quest Monsters has always been known for its Nintendo 3DS games, but now it is coming to Nintendo Switch. What were some of the challenges trying to fit a game that originally ran on two screens into a single screen?
Kento Yokota: For a long time, as you said, the screen information has been displayed on two screens at once, but now the information on each screen has to be unified.
As such, the screen layout, user interface, and so on, have been changed significantly from the past.
Are there any easter eggs or nostalgic callbacks to the Dragon Quest series in The Dark Prince that fans can expect and appreciate?
Kento Yokota: The story is basically set in the same world as Dragon Quest IV. However, this time the story is focused a lot more on the monsters instead. So, those who follow the numbered entries of Dragon Quest will still get a sense of nostalgia.
Dragon Quest is a beloved franchise. What would say is the core quality, the one thing that players can experience in every Dragon Quest game?
Yuji Horii: Well, the main character. In social studies, the main character is usually equal to the player thoroughly. You are the main character, traveling all over the world in the game on an adventure. I value the feeling of being the main character to the last.
Is there anything else you would like to share with Dragon Quest fans?
Yuji Horii: This time, we are maintaining more official connections with the people of Asia. I got the opportunity to get in touch with a lot of people in Asia. Nice to meet you.
Kento Yokota: Yes, Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is going to be a game that even people who have never played the series can enjoy. The Synthesis system is the biggest feature and fans in Southeast Asian regions can enjoy such a blending system.
I hope you try the game once and see if it is something fun. You would not know if you are into Dragon Quest until you experience it once. There are also many more accessible elements in the game now. So if you get the chance, please try it. Thank you.
Our interview concludes here. We would like to thank Yuji Horii and Kento Yokota for taking the time to answer our questions regarding Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince and the series as a whole.
Previously at Tokyo Game Show 2023, we also had the opportunity to speak with Kento Yokota in an interview. In this interview, he shared more details on the Synthesis system in The Dark Prince, which you read here.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is slated to launch on 1st December 2023 on the Nintendo Switch.