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news: japan is FURIOUS about dragon quest ix

by on December 26, 2006

see, i was able to get this image by being able to type 'dragon quest' IN JAPANESEOkay, not really. Still. They’re not exactly sneezing rainbows over it. A survey of Famitsu readers in this week’s issue asks the readers “Do you welcome Dragon Quest IX on Nintendo DS? Does it make you happy? Are you in love with the very idea of it?” (Emphasis added.)

40.3% say “Yes”
46% say “No”
5.2% say “Neither”
8.5% say “I’m not sure yet”

A little gray-area statistical analysis shows that the opinion is currently favoring the negative. Realize that “Neither” means “I’ll buy the game anyway” and “I’m not sure yet” means “For someone reason, I’m being indecisive about my feelings.” So we’re sitting in at 45.5% saying they shall definitely purchase the game, and 54.5% saying they either don’t want it or maybe don’t want it.

The next question is the doozy: “Do you like the idea of action-based battles in a Dragon Quest game? Will they change your world for the better?” (Again, emphasis added.)

6.8% say “Neither yes nor no”
19.9% say “I’m not sure yet”
19.4% say “Yes”
53.9% say “No”

It’s important to note, however, that the people who vote in Famitsu polls are usually the type of people to actually buy the magazine at least twice a month. So they’re a little abnormal. They do not represent the wider population.

This is why Famitsu always has the “Retailer” corner, where they ask the retailers the same questions. In Japanese, “Retailer” means “What we think normal, game-buying people will think”.

When asked if they like the game being on DS, retailers said:

47.5% — Yes
22.5% — Neither yes nor no
10% — Not sure yet
20% — No
One retailer says “I’m just glad it’s on the hottest-selling system in Japan.” Another says “I predict the game will appeal to all ages this way.” Yet another says “I don’t believe there are too many people who would buy a DS just to play this game.” The fourth retailer says “I don’t know if we’ll have enough DSes in stock!!” Keep in mind that the third retailer is from Fukuoka, where they also have the ocean, and that the fourth retailer is from Aichi, and probably wears a toupee made of shredded Brillo pads.

When asked if they liked the idea of action-based battles, retailers said:

15% — Yes
32.4 — Not sure yet
12.5 — Neither yes nor no
40% — No

A retailer from Fukushima says “New users will adapt to the system easily. What about all the hardcore fans being BETRAYED, though?” (Emphasis added to more strongly accentuate the things this guy doesn’t get. Hell. I’m the hardcorest DQ fan I’ve ever met and I think action is a great idea. If I want the traditional system, I’ll boot up DQ5 or DQ6 or DQ7 — or 8.) Retailer in Shizuoka — that’s Japanese for “silent hill” — says “No action RPGs on DS to date have been successful.” Excellent deduction, Holmes! That’s because they were all either no-names (Contact) or blewwwwwwwwwww (Children of Mana). This game is promising you costume changes for god’s sake! And four-player battles with meaningful use of tactics. And it’s Dragon Quest. The retailer from Aichi says “The market is currently expanding, so it’s impossible to say what degree of new experiences people are willing to go for.” Congratulations on your business school vocabulary!

They also asked the retailers to predict how many copies the game will sell. The pie chart for that question is pretty silly. So I’ll say “my own opinion”, which is informed by this pie chart showing what all the retailers of Japan: Probably around 3.72 million copies in the first month.

Famitsu includes a handy chart, showing that Dragon Quest III was the highest-selling game in the series, with 6 million copies sold. Actually, look at this:

DQI: 1.5 million
DQII: 2.4 million
DQIII: 6 million
DQIV: 4.3 million (including the PSOne remake)
DQV: 4.5 million (including the PS2 remake)
DQVI: 3.2 million
DQVII: 4.1 million
DQVIII: 4.1 million (including estimated overseas sales)

It’s interesting to see that III arrived just when Dragon Quest became a cultural phenomenon, and that the popularity didn’t continue building. Perhaps this is why Final Fantasy started to radically tool with its formula in successive installments — to keep fans cheaply primed for the “new”. DQV was a slight drop (the PS2 remake of V outsold the PS1 remake of IV by quite a large margin, you see), and DQVI dropped even further. Probably because of Final Fantasy and other RPGs of the time. However, lots of people realized that other RPGs kind of sucked and went back for DQVII. VIII sold less because it was on PS2, and not everyone had a PS2.

Well, these days, not everyone has a DS. The stores have been dead sold out of the DS Lite since it showed up in March. People line up to buy them on Saturdays mornings. Sometimes you see shady groups of dudes putting armfuls of DS Lites into a truck.

When asked if the game would be big because of the DS’s charming personality, 60% of retailers said yes. One retailer said he only hopes Nintendo can ship more DS Lite units; another retailer says lots of people have DSes already; another one rhetorically asks, “What kind of person interested in buying a DS so far wouldn’t want a new Dragon Quest game?” Without meeting, and without even using the internet, these men are arguing.

Now for the best part — the detailed reader opinions.

Nineteen-year-old college student says: “I honestly don’t think the graphics need to be better than they already are. It’s a good match for the DS.” Yes!

A 35-year-old company man says: “I’m quite moved that they would take up such a challenge.”

A 27-year-old company man (hey, I’m one of those!) says the game can appeal to people with bubbling social lives best by being on DS.

A 23-year-old company girl says: “Now I can play Dragon Quest wherever I am!” Yes, you can! You can also buy the new Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker released last week (and given a 10 9 8 9 by Famitsu in this week’s Cross Review) though I don’t have the heart to tell you that because you’re a girl and you probably have boobs.

A 29-year-old company man says, “If Horii says this is a main series title, then so be it.” Feel the fear! This man would have made an excellent samurai!

A 33-year-old company man who probably has a goatee and listens to mystery movie music on his iPod says: “Would any of us have predicted, two years ago, that the next Dragon Quest game would be released for a portable system? I can sense the shift of the sands of time.”

Kicking off the negative opinions is a real wheeler of a line from a seventeen-year-old student: “When I heard it was on DS, I was totally like, ‘That sucks!'” There you have it!

An unemployed twenty-four-year-old man says “I really wanted to relax and play this on my TV.” On PS3? He distinctly says “relax”, so he can’t mean he wanted it to be on Wii. “How does an unemployed man afford a PS3?” you might ask. Well, there’s this thing called “The power”, wherein you want something really bad and eventually you have it, at the expense of your health.

A 25-year-old housewife says: “I’d be totally all for this if they weren’t trying to call it an installment of the main series.”

An unemployed 28-year-old man says: “It seems as though I won’t be able to enjoy the true glory of Kouichi Sugiyama’s compositions.” Whatever — use headphones! The music in Dragon Quest VIII was midi, after all.

A 36-year-old salesman says, “I would have preferred it if the graphics in ‘IX’ were actually better than the graphics in ‘VIII’.” A reasonable dissent, I guess.

A 28-year-old salaryman says “I will not tolerate a Dragon Quest on a portable system.” Someday he’ll be in charge of the whole office, just you wait!

A 28-year-old waiter says “The DS’s 3D is too weak. I’d prefer them to make it sprite based. That’d be good enough for me!” You and me both, sir!

Now for the undecideds, which are kind of boring. A 30-year-old carpenter says “You would have figured it’d use the uniqueness of the Wii, or the great graphics of the PS3?” Not a bad concern. As an aside, I have a friend who was a carpenter once. Jesus! Little shout out to you there!

A 33-year-old company man with a permanent frown says “I do not own a DS. And DSes are in short supply. I will not be able to play this game.” Relax, man! Eat some bran flakes! They say the game is coming “At the end of 2007.” You have like a year to get a DS. Order one from Amazon.co.jp, entertain yourself through other means, and it’ll show up definitely before then!

My personal favorite comment comes from a 32-year-old salaryman: “I’m concerned about the potential length of the game, since it’s on DS. Will they make this a two-cartridge game?” Man. I bet this guy is the head of his company’s IT division. He probably has LOTUS NOTES installed on all of the computers. Hell!!

The reader backlash against the action-based battles is, according to Famitsu, so tremendous that it would be ridiculous to document it. The most common comment, according to Famitsu, was “It just isn’t Dragon Quest.” Others said “I suck at action games.” Positive opinions included “I’m sure it’ll be as intuitive and fun as an action game as it is as an RPG.”

The next two pages feature a survey of retailers. Basically, the question is, what’ll be hot in 2007?

1. Wii
2. Dragon Quest IX
3. DS Lite
4. PS3
5. “Who knows?” (probably all retailers in Fukuoka and Shizuoka)
6. Xbox 360

In conclusion, then, Gundam Musou is going to be the greatest game EVER EVER EVER ever EVER. I’m not even kidding. Go search for some scans or something. Not that we condone that sort of thing.

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