Dragon Quest – 30th Anniversary NHK Special (subtitled)


Japan’s National Treasure is Turning 30! Dragon Quest, a pioneer of role-playing games. Known by the shorthand “DoraKue”, it has
continued to shape Japan’s gaming history. Today, we get an exclusive peek at the
never-before-seen development room. What wonders will we see behind the scenes of
the long-awaited sequel, Dragon Quest XI…? Staff: This screen shows the equipment here… It doesn’t have to explain everything. As long
it makes players feel like they got the gist of it… that should be enough. I also get to talk directly with legendary series creator Yuji Horii himself. What part of Dragon Quest’s success makes you the most happy? I’m just happy it was successful in the first place! How have you been able to keep at it continuously for these 30 long years? I love games enough to say that for me, it’s not just a job–it’s a calling. It all began 30 years ago, with the first Dragon Quest. What untold drama accompanied its conception…? I made the declaration then and there: we’re
going to make the greatest game in the world. There’s something unique about
Akira Toriyama’s monsters that only he does: their eyes are always looking directly at the player. I suspected that classical would be a
better base for video game music than pop. I want to create a feeling in players of
expectation: “Whoa! What will happen next??” It’s been 30 years since the adventure begin. How was the legend born? And why does it still continue to capture our imagination today? Tonight, the many legends of Dragon Quest will be revealed. Now, let’s begin our journey of adventure! 2/10/1988 – Ikebukuro, Tokyo Dragon Quest. A game infamous in Japan for the monstrously long
lines on release day, which fans would queue overnight for. Dragon Quest III, in particular, was a smash success,
selling an insane 3.85 million copies alone. We regret to announce that we are now sold out of Dragon Quest III! Dragon Quest completely overturned the
rules that previous games had established. You always begin the game by inputting the hero’s name. After that, you set out on a journey with your companions, defeating monsters to gain experience and slowly raise your levels. The incredible experiences that can’t be had in your
everday life, the epic storyline, and the fantastic worlds captured the hearts of fans the world over. And I, Takayuki Yamada, count myself as one of those fans. The first Dragon Quest I played,
in elementary school, was Dragon Quest V. The dramatic roller coaster of events
left a lasting impression on me. Without warning, the hero is thrust into slavery. Then further along his journey he gets married… …only to later be turned to stone.
It’s a tragic turn of events. Yet seeing the hero carry on undaunted
through all the adversity–I was sold. I’ve been a fan of this game ever since. Scenario Writer
Yuji Horii Dragon Quest’s appeal, more than
anything, stems from Yuji Horii’s stories. Character Design
Akira Toriyama Alongside his words there are Akira
Toriyama’s charming characters. Music
Koichi Sugiyama And on top of it all is Koichi Sugiyama’s magnificent music. Dragon Quest is the combined product of their three geniuses. Yuji Horii, the man who created Dragon Quest.
But how, exactly, did he do it…? Do you want continue your quest? 30 years after the release of the inaugural title, the developers are hard at work on the 11th Dragon Quest game. Today we were granted permission to film
behind the scenes in the development offices. At the center of it all… …we find game designer Yuji Horii. He has been planning video games and writing
their stories for over 30 years now. For this newest Dragon Quest, too, all the visuals you see
here have been crafted around the framework of Horii’s story. The team has been hard at work
playtesting since May of this year. This crucial phase of the development is known as the “rom
check” and has a huge impact on the final quality of the game. Why did we come here again?
Were we trying to get Holy Lamda? During this time, Horii is especially cognizant of how
the game will feel from the player’s perspective. He strives to view the game they’re
developing as objectively as possible. I don’t understand this part, either. It’s supposed to be a hint for the next scenario,
a little foreshadowing of what’s to come. Getting all this completely new info here feels weird. This section here also feels too confusing to me. Because you’re going up the same terrain here… That was kind of the idea, to make it a little hard, I guess. To try and make the player get lost a little. The biggest bottleneck is here. If we don’t somehow let the player know down
here, that this path is the correct way, they’re going to feel lost. It’s a bit annoying to constantly have to be
thinking back to what you saw several screens ago. During the early days of Dragon Quest, Horii
answered some questions for an NHK interview. Amazingly, for thirty years he has maintained
the same stance on game development. I try to put myself in the shoes
of the person playing the game. It’s really a very basic thing, but you’d be surprised how many games stray from this path. Often, when players suddenly find
themselves in the roles of creators, they tend to get obsessed with making the game hard– not with making it enjoyable first and foremost– but with making it hard and challenging. That mindset is only looking at the machine–it’s
not looking at the human being playing it. In other words, before you even
begin to program anything, you should have an idea in your mind
of who’s going to be playing this. Yes. If you consider the person on the other side
of the monitor, it might make you stop and think: hey, wait a minute,
no one’s going to want to play this! A player-first approach to game development! And there is a reason Horii has been able to maintain this philosophy. Here we see the staff enjoying a quick break. But what do we find Horii so engrossed in…? What level are you at now?! I’m about level 16 now. Of course, it’s a game! It’s because he’s got games on the mind 24/7
that Horii is able to create such fun games himself! Well, I guess this is a good place to stop. I suppose I should too. Lover of Games, Beloved of Games–Yuji Horii. Lover of Games, Beloved of Games–Yuji Horii.
To meet him in person, I embarked on
a little trip to downtown Tokyo… Here we are, just a typical room in a high-rise apartment. Hello. Whoa, this is amazing. Today I’ve paid a visit to Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii’s home. Long time no see, thank you for having me. This is amazing. Horii’s custom-renovated apartment,
which doubles as his office. It looks like a film set, doesn’t it? Definitely. This room’s design was inspired by the
Inn and Weapon Shops in Dragon Quest. Wow, this is awesome. Takayuki: Ah, it says yado (inn) up there. Today we’re confronting Horii with questions from
the public that were submitted to our homepage. Well then, let’s start with the first question. This is from Kyoka, a 21 year old woman. When you start a Dragon Quest game,
what do you usually name your character? Ah, most of the time I go with Yuubon.
Another name I use is **SECRET** I get Yuubon, but the other one… Yuubon is for situations where I
don’t care if people know who I am, but for online games and such, I use that other
name to hide my identity, so I can’t say it here! Yeah, or you’d end up having
to change it right away again. I always name my character
Soramame (lima bean), by the way. Alright then, moving on to the next question… This one is from Kokin, a 42-year old woman. This is something I’ve wanted to know
for a long time, but in Dragon Quest, you can go into people’s houses without permission
and open drawers and break chests. It was also parodied in the TV show Yuusha
Yoshihiko. Can you share your thoughts on that? Actually, when I go over to someone’s house, I like to
open up their fridge and take a peek to see what’s inside. Seriously?! I’ve never done that! Yeah, it’s like, “I wonder what’s in here…?” You just wanna know. Yeah, and I figure since it’s a game
and all, that kind of thing is fine. That’s true, I think so too. It’s a video game! That’s your answer. It feels good to cause a little mischief like that
though, right? To do things you couldn’t do in reality. I break them all! Our next question is from a 37 year old woman. “I imagine there are many answers to this, but what are the most important things to you
when you’re making a Dragon Quest game?” As a player myself, I would always
ask: does this feel fun and exciting? Or does it feel tedious and annoying? It’s really all about that for me. I think the biggest thing for me, as a player, is that it’s no
fun when you’re lost and don’t know what you’re supposed to do. I’m always trying to minimize that feeling. I can definitely see that with Dragon Quest, in the
way it tries to be clear and easy to understand. For example, when you’re fighting monsters
right near the town, but you start to get bored, so you cross the bridge and then get
decimated by the stronger monsters there…! The game sort of guides you by
clearly delineating those areas. Removing the confusion players have about knowing
what to do next, though, is only one part of it. After that you have to instill the desire in players,
to want to do whatever it is you’re designing. So I want to create a feeling in players of
expectation–“Whoa! What will happen next??” That’s really the key. We’ll return to our Horii Q&A session later… Now begins a tale of Dragon Quest character design. How does Akira Toriyama, Japan’s beloved manga
artist, go about creating Dragon Quest’s characters? 4 years have passed since the release
of the last entry in the Dragon Quest series, and the long-awaited opening movie is now complete. All these wonderful characters which bring color to the
world of Dragon Quest… how are all they created? As always, the character design in Dragon Quest
XI was handled by manga artist Akira Toriyama. With wildly successful comics like Dragon Ball under his
belt, Toriyama is practically a household name in Japan. Today we are visiting his long-time editor (and also his
contact person for the Dragon Quest series), Akio Iyoku. What kind of person is Toriyama? Toriyama is… well, everyone who has
had the chance to meet him says this, but he’s a very… how to put it… a very nice person! A “nice person”? Hmmm… I’m afraid that doesn’t tell me very much, so I had Iyoku
show me proof in the form of an e-mail sent by Toriyama. Ah, I can see from the way he writes, he’s very polite. Right, and that’s why everyone says he’s a nice person. The tone of his e-mails is more formal. Yeah, there’s a sense of distance with him. Even though we’ve been working together for about 20 years now. I asked Iyoku to show me something that would
give an insight into Toriyama’s process. He presented us with this e-mail from
Toriyama about the main character’s design. In response to a request from the development team to
attach a hood to the hero’s outfit, Toriyama replied: “Re-drawing it wouldn’t be too much work, but if I attach a hood, I’ll have to move his sword to his waist, and the scabbard across his chest will have to be removed. I think it will diminish his “heroic” appearance somewhat… do you still want me to? (personally, I think he looks cooler this way).
Kind regards, Toriyama.” Hmm… his tone may be mild, but you can
feel his strong preferences showing through. Toriyama doesn’t draw “concept
art” the way other artists do. What’s unique about his approach to character design, is that he always accounts for the fact that
these characters will be used in a 3D space, that they’ll actually be moving around. He’s also very insistent that the clothing and weapons
designs are practical and actually usable. If the developers ask him to create a two-handed
sword, for example, he might point out how hey, if you put this humongous sword here the
character won’t be able to unsheathe it! He’s very conscious of those kind of
structural impossibilities when he designs. So what happens a lot in the design process is that developers
will ask him something like, “please make his weapon this way”, and Toriyama will come back with something different, saying
“What you asked for was impossible so I did this instead.” He says stuff like that a lot.
“You can’t use this weapon in this way.” To date, Toriyama has drawn over 500
characters and monsters for Dragon Quest. Along the way, however, there have
been many unused or rejected designs. Undaunted by these rejections, how has Toriyama
managed to keep working on Dragon Quest for 30 years? We decided to try asking the man
himself that very question. However… At first, he didn’t respond. Just when we thought it was hopeless,
and were about to give up… You discover a letter from Akira Toriyama! Toriyama sent us this illustration
with the following message attached. I’ll read it now. Hello, this is Akira Toriyama. I’m terribly sorry that I can’t appear in person,
because public exposure is NG (no good) for me. I initially accepted the job of character designer
for Dragon Quest without giving it too much thought. “What the heck is a role-playing game?”, I thought.
That was the sort of time it was. I hadn’t the slightest inkling that this
series would continue on for another 30 years. To be honest, if I had known it would
go on that long, I would have refused. I’m not good at doing the same thing over and over. Ah, I can understand him. No one
thought this would go on for 30 years. Designing characters for Dragon Quest is fun but difficult work. Nowadays there are a lot of full-time designers on the team,
so I don’t have to design as much volume as I once did. However, the characters I do design are
almost all serious, “good guy” types. Personally, I’m not terribly interested
in designing wholesome characters, so I don’t have many variations to offer. Also, because the series is a fantasy, there is a certain
established time period and setting that I must adhere to, so with each successive entry in the series,
it gets harder and harder, and to keep the designs fresh I must resort
to using every trick in the book. Every trick in the book, he says… I’m getting
a real taste of the challenges Toriyama must face. To have such a highly specific design
setting limits your artistic options, and when I’ve tried to create more fanciful,
fun designs, they always get rejected. Sometimes I miss the old days, when I had more
freedom in drawing any kind of monster I imagined. He’s really letting loose with the complaints now! Could it be that he no longer enjoys working on Dragon Quest…? But worry not. I treat all the work I undertake with the utmost professionalism, and so this time with Dragon Quest XI, as always,
I’m giving the designs my very best. The release is still a little ways
off, but please look forward to it! Signed, Toriyama Akira Toriyama-sensei, thank you very much for this letter. I know you’re a busy man, so I won’t ask for a
caricature portrait or anything annoying, don’t worry… Did you enjoy Toriyama’s personal message? Now we shall turn to the story of the music of Dragon Quest. It is the work of one particular wizard… Composer Koichi Sugiyama, age 85.
He is still actively working today. Of course I don’t normally wave
around the baton like this. Sugiyama is one of the leading figures responsible
for introducing orchestral music into video games. For thirty years, without interruption or rest, he
has continued to compose the music of Dragon Quest. We decided to take a visit to Sugiyama’s workplace. Right now, Sugiyama is in the middle of
composing the new songs for Dragon Quest XI. He’s about to reveal a new song that he finished just today. This is Sylvia’s theme… Ah, it came out pretty good! This is nice! We’ll use it for this scene here, where the
hero is wearing this outfit for the parade. It fits really nice! I think it’s ok if we don’t show this Horii. That woodwind is a flute, right? Yes, it’s a flute. Got it. Ah, I see, I see. Like that. What you were humming just now was about 3
seconds… but we might want a little more. A little longer? Um… how many seconds was that now? Koichi Sugiyama is 85 years old.
But he’s still brimming with energy. They told me they wanted all new music for DQXI–
new overworld music, new town music, everything. I agreed right away, but I was taken aback when
I realized how many new songs I’d have to write! It was insane. But it’s good stimulation for my old
brain, so I’m doing my best. You’ve been writing Dragon Quest music for over 30 years
now, how have you maintained your energy and motivation? It’s because I love Dragon Quest. As long as I have this “Dragon Quest
love” in me, I feel I can keep going. Classical music has formed the foundation
for all of Dragon Quest’s music. The decision to use classical music for Dragon Quest was the result
of Sugiyama’s experience writing music for a wide variety of genres. Sugiyama was well-known as a songwriter for
famous “group sound” bands like The Tigers. He went on to write music for many other genres,
including tokusatsu, anime, and commercials. Game music, however, demanded a
different approach, as Sugiyama explains. In popular music, the important thing is really that first impression,
that the song is catchy and grabs your attention right away. With Classical music, that initial impact may not be so great, but you
can listen to a classical piece again and again without getting bored. That’s its strength. For game music, I wanted to do something that had that same
depth to it, something you could listen to again and again, and consequently, I thought classical music would serve
as a better basis for Dragon Quest’s music than pop. And I’ve been writing it like that ever since. Over the last 30 years, Sugiyama has
composed more 400 Dragon Quest songs. His guiding policy has always been
“music you can listen to without fatigue.” This year, at the end of a concert commemorating 30 years of
Dragon Quest, Sugiyama was presented with a surprise award. Koichi Sugiyama, you have been recognized by
Guiness World Records for Oldest Video Game Composer. And so Sugiyama’s name was entered
into the Guiness Book of World Records. Yuji Horii Q&A – Part 2 Continuing on, we’ve got a question
here from Rakia, a 30 year old woman. In Dragon Quest V, you get to choose one of
four names for your pet killer panther. I always choose ‘gere gere’… but to be honest,
all the choices sound a little weird to me. Why did you choose such strange names?
Is there a meaning behind them? Oh, are they weird? It seems like a lot of people picked ‘gere gere’… That was actually my least favorite choice. Really? Which did you choose? I always went with Borongo. Borongo, that’s a strong-sounding name. It has a nice ring to it, you know? But “gere gere”…? But “gere gere”…?
I don’t get any affection from that! When I imagine a killer panther, somehow “Borongo!” just fits. But “gere gere!”…? I can’t love an animal with that name. Well then, why such strange names…
your answer: Horii doesn’t think they’re weird. He recommends gere gere, in fact. Our next question is from Kazuma Yanagisa, 20, male. In Dragon Quest VII, why is it that Kiefer
is never mentioned again after he leaves the party?! I remember everyone was asking about this. The “Kiefer problem”… Kiefer is a character from Dragon Quest VII, a stalwart
ally of the hero who sets out on his journey with him. However, early in the game, he suddenly
decides on his own to leave the party. It’s hard to imagine the shock to players, who had given
him valuable items and spent time leveling him up. Originally, we wanted to have Kiefer
leave the party later in the game. But then you *really* would have invested
a lot of items and time into him. Having a party member leave is traumatic enough,
so we thought it would be best to have him leave early. Even so, people complained.
“What?! I gave him all my seeds!!!” Everyone experienced that, with Kiefer in DQ7. From his appearance, and the way he joins the party,
you’re sure he’s going to be around to the end. So you give him all your seeds, and then
suddenly it’s like, wtf, he just leaves?! I wanted to impart a touch of sadness to the drama there. Yes, in that sense, it’s an important life lesson. Watch out, all you 20 year-olds out there.
The same thing might happen to you with a woman. We’ve all experienced it before. “What! I gave you
all these presents and you’re leaving me?!?” Ok, next. What do you think has been
the best thing about Dragon Quest’s success? Good question, I wonder. I’m just happy it was successful in the first place! Yeah, and we wouldn’t have this
awesomely decorated room otherwise! I love games enough to say that for me,
it’s not just a job–it’s a calling. Whenever I sit down and think about video games,
new interesting ideas always come to me. I don’t think I’m cut out for other kind of work. If I had to be a regular salaryman,
I get the feeling it’d be a very hard life for me. Yeah, you’ve been doing this for 30 years now, I can
imagine feeling that this is really your calling. It was the right time and place, and I was lucky too.
I do feel it’s what I was put on this Earth to do. Now, let’s rewind the clock a bit. Dragon Quest began 30 years ago. At that time, a drama was
unfolding between the developers… How was Dragon Quest born? Let’s travel back in time, to 33 years ago… Weekly Shonen Jump – 1983, Issue 14 “Make Your Own Computer Game!” This special feature for a certain game
contest originally ran in Shonen Jump. The man responsible for writing the article and covering the
event was a 29 year old freelance writer by the name of Yuji Horii. Although his official job was to to cover the event as a journalist,
Horii secretly submitted a tennis game of his own creation! Amazingly, his submission ended up
being selected as one of the winners! Horii’s old friend Kazuhiko Torishima,
editor of Shonen Jump and the person who originally tasked Horii with reporting on the contest,
shared his memories of those times with us. It was Yukinobu Chida, a producer at Enix,
who had the idea of holding a contest, where participants could submit their games, and the
winning entries would be published by Enix. Chida then started making the rounds, trying to find
interested parties to make the event a reality. NHK was chosen for the TV broadcast, and when Chida next went around to see which print
media publishers would cover it, he came to us, and I immediately asked him to let us
at Shonen Jump cover it exclusively. That task was given to Horii, and without telling
anyone, he submitted his own game for it! NHK has preserved a video from the day of the contest. With over 3 million yen (roughly 30,000 USD) in total prizes,
the game contest attracted submissions from all over Japan. We can even see a young Horii sitting here at the award ceremony. And it was at this award ceremony where
Horii would have a fateful encounter… His name was Koichi Nakamura, the genius programmer
who would go on to create Dragon Quest with Horii. While Horii won an award for his game, he was also there
as writer and journalist to cover the contest itself. He did ask me questions as a reporter,
but after I remember how he nudged me and was like, “Actually, you know, I submitted a
game too! It’s right over there!” That was our first meeting. After the contest, they recognized each other as kindred spirits,
and decided to combine their forces for their next game. The big question was: what kind of game should they make? Console game systems had only just hit the market:
it was the heyday of action and shooting games. What they were interested in, however, were role-playing
games, a genre that was still fairly unknown in Japan at the time. The two games they were obsessed
with were Wizardry and Ultima. Wizardry was an RPG with very impressive dungeon battle scenes. Ultima, on the other hand, stood out for its expansive overworld
map, which reached even into the depths of outer space. I and the other members of
Chunsoft were Wizardry fans, while Wizardry was popular
among Horii and his friends. We would always get caught up talking about role-playing
games, talking about which ones we liked and why. Wizardry was all about the dungeons. Ultima had a big overworld map
you could wander around in, and you could die quickly if you weren’t careful. I really loved
that feeling of adventuring through an unknown world like that. At any rate, since we had an Ultima lover
and Wizardry lover in myself and Horii, after talking it over we decided to try and
combine the best of both games into one. Hearing the two young men were planning to create
a new game, Torishima also sprung into action. Horii told me he was determined
to make an RPG for his next game. “What kind of RPG?”, I asked him, and he replied “Something
that combines the strengths of both Wizardry and Ultima.” I then told him that we at Shonen Jump wanted to
cover the making of this game, from start to finish. To cover it at Shonen Jump, though,
we’d need to convince the senior editors. I remembered then that Akira Toriyama had mentioned liking video
games before, so I thought, let’s have him design the characters! That would give us an excuse to
feature it in Shonen Jump too. Bringing them together in this way was my idea. What was Toriyama’s reaction when you asked him about it? He just said “Sure, I’ll do it.” It wasn’t a lot of volume so I don’t
think he thought twice about it. Thus the groundwork was laid for the
creation of the first Dragon Quest game. Interestingly, the development was also influenced
by a certain famous song from that time… That song was We Are The World, a benefit single that
Michael Jackson had put together an all-star ensemble for. This song which stunned the world, what
connection could it have had to Dragon Quest…? Early Dragon Quest Producer Chida Yukinobu explains how
the song played a key role in inspiring the development. We Are The World was a popular song back then, and they used to show the “making of” video for it on TV. When I watched it, I was impressed by what they said… that this song was created with the specific
intention that it would be a hit song. It made me realize that your determination to make
something great has to be there from the beginning. So when we first started developing Dragon Quest, as the producer I made a declaration then and there: We’re going to make the greatest game in the world. And that was the attitude we had going in to Dragon Quest. With a bold declaration to make the world’s greatest
game, the Dragon Quest development was underway. The first task Horii set himself to was drawing
the maps which the player would freely explore. He carefully placed characters on the map,
and then gave them dialogue. People tend to see computers as cold and mechanical, so I tried to write dialogue that would
be especially warm and human-sounding… Not getting caught up in gameplay systems and jargon, but
something easy for the average person to understand. Horii peppered Dragon Quest with humorous lines
that evoked the sensibility of manga dialogue. In doing so, he lent Dragon Quest a distinct
warmth not seen in other adventure games. How did you come up with the names for the spells? It was mostly just intuition. Take the “hoimi” (Heal) spell, for instance. We
say “mi o mamoru” (protect oneself) in Japanese, and “mi” is body, and “ho” came from “ho-on” (warmth),
so I just combined the two images together for “hoimi.” For “mera” (blaze), I used “moeru” (to burn). And “gira” (fireball) I took from “gira tte” (flashing). I mean, I’m from Kansai, and we use
lots of onomatopoeias when we talk. “He went SWOOSH! right around the
corner and ran SMACK into the wall!” That’s the world I come from, and it just found
its way into the game, all those sound words. Further complementing Horii’s unique worldview, Toriyama’s
monsters also added a special warmth to the game. Toriyama’s monsters are adorable, aren’t they! I feel a lot of warmth from them,
with their soft, rounded linework. Games don’t have to be all about
violence and brutality, you know? Akira Toriyama isn’t the only manga artist
to ever design video game characters, but there’s one unique thing about Akira
Toriyama’s monsters that only he does. Can you guess what it is? It’s their eyes. Their eyes are
always looking directly at the player. That’s why they have such a surprising
presence when you encounter them. I think it’s something Toriyama owes to the experience
and technical skill he’s gained from working in manga. Just as he said–they look right at you! In addition to the story and characters, the team also thought
hard and long about the best screen layout for their new game. RPGs then were known for having loads of text. How could the team simplify that and make everything
easy to understand for the average player? TV screens are actually quite small, so we had to try and fit all the important stats and
text on there in a way players would find intelligible. Consequently we chose to use that windowed interface,
which surprisingly made all that info very manageable. What we really liked about it, was that when you’re
just walking around and exploring the map normally, you get to see the entire map, but at the same time you
can easily call up all your info with a single button. Producer Yukinobu Chida, the man who declared
he woud make the world’s greatest game. There was only one thing lacking now, he felt,
to make Dragon Quest really come alive as a game. The only thing I felt was missing then, I guess, was the music. Luckily, by coincidence I had happened to
make the acquantice of Koichi Sugiyama… A chance encounter… it all began when Chida was looking over some of the
product feedback postcards sent by players directly to Enix. (Staff) Chida, here are this week’s feedback postcards. (Chida) Thanks. (Chida) Huh? This one’s from Koichi Sugiyama… (Staff) Did you say Koichi Sugiyama? That famous guy? (Chida) Huh? (Staff) You know, the famous composer! (Chida) Come on, there’s no way a composer like Sugiyama
would be writing to us about our shogi (japanese chess) game. As it turns out, the postcard was
indeed from the real Koichi Sugiyama! Several days later… (Sugiyama) Thanks for waiting for me.
I’m Koichi Sugiyama. (Chida) Pleased to meet you! I’m Chida.
I read your comments about our shogi game. (Sugiyama) To tell the truth, I’m actually a huge
video game fan, not just of shogi. (Sugiyama) I play Donkey Kong on my Famicom everyday. (Chida) Oh, really? (Chida) Sugiyama, I believe that video games are going to keep
evolving, and music is going to become a very important part of that… (Sugiyama) Go on! (Chida) Sugiyama! (Chida) Would you be interested in working
with us on a project we have right now? (Sugiyama) Yes! I would absolutely love to
write music for a video game. At the same time, Horii and Nakayama were reaching
the final phase of the Dragon Quest development. (Nakamura) Things are shaping up quite
well, don’t you think Horii? (Horii) Absolutely! (Chida) Thank you both for all your hard work so far. (Nakamura) Ah, Chida. Thank you for everything. (Chida) Actually, I came to talk about the music.
I want to ask composer Koichi Sugiyama to write it. (Nakamura) But I’ve already asked
our sound programmer to do it…! (Chida) Our goal is to make the number one game in the world!
For that, I think we’re going to need some proper, solid music. (Nakamura) But how can you expect someone who knows
nothing about video games to write good game music?! (Nakamura) Besides, we don’t have time for that now. (Horii) I agree, I think it would be impossible
for an outsider to write game music… (Chida) There’s no need to worry–
Sugiyama is a huge video game fan! (Nakamura) I’m against it. What if the
music he writes ends up not fitting? How am I then supposed to ask a
big-name composer like him to rewrite it? (Chida) Please hold on a moment, Nakamura! Would you at least consider meeting him? I was really skeptical that a famous composer like Sugiyama
would take the job of writing game music seriously. What if he wrote something, and I thought it
didn’t quite fit the mood we were going for? He’s so famous that I worried working with him would just mean nodding
our heads and being unable to have any real communication. I could sense that they were very worried
about asking a non-gamer to write the music. But when I sat down together with Nakamura and we
started talking about games, we really hit it off. There was this game I was super-obsessed with
at the time, one I was playing all the time. It was a pinball game that you could play at Yokosuka Base,
which had originally been installed in American arcades. Sugiyama knew about this game–in fact, he told me how, during
work, he’d jump in his car real quick to drive over to play it! I could tell that did the trick: “Oh,
wow, Sugiyama really knows his stuff!” That’s how they realized I really did love video games. After that they asked me to join the team, I remember. Koichi Sugiyama has joined the party! There wasn’t much time for him to write the music, however… They had managed to extend the final deadline by one week, and they asked me to make something happen within that time. In other words, I had just one week to write the music. Did you even think it would be possible, in that timeframe? I thought I could do it. As promised, within a week,
Sugiyama had finished writing eight songs. I was shocked to learn that he composed
this prologue melody in a mere 5 minutes. Up to that time, game music had largely been
a collection of rythmical blips and bleeps, but classical music? It was a new idea, but when we tried walking around the overworld
map with Sugiyama’s music in the background, it was like, yes! This is great! I can’t imagine it any other way now! Even
Nakamura was convinced, and we were all fired up about it. Thus, their game was completed. And on May 27th,
1986, the first Dragon Quest was released. The truth is, when it finally went on sale, it didn’t do very well! I think we originally shipped out around 500,000 units, and it
wasn’t until the end of the year that we’d sold one million. I remember really pushing for one million sales. While the first Dragon Quest game helped
grow the recognition of RPGs in Japan, it was Dragon Quest II, released the following
year, that really cemented their popularity. The story, which sees you travelling with two
companions, was well-received by players, and it marked the beginning of Dragon Quest’s
legacy of record-breaking sold-out game releases. And so… February 2nd, 1988. Ikebukuro, Tokyo. …the third Dragon Quest was released,
and it was an even more explosive hit. Fans queued up in insanely long lines all across Japan,
in order to get their hands on the newest Dragon Quest. The developers went down to the scene of this
whirlwind of passion to get a first-hand look for themselves. Our offices were in Shinjuku, so I rode my
bike to go see the lines that had formed. It was in the middle of winter so it was very cold! When I saw everyone braving that weather
for our game, I felt really guilty, but also grateful: “Thank you everyone, thank you!” Seeing that gave me chills. All these people
standing out there for our product…! I was simply very happy. Dragon Quest, a game we’ve been in love with for 30 years now. The hero of the Dragon Quest is always you. Somehow, when we see our characters adventuring in the game,
it gives us bravery for our own lives and challenges. And at the end of our heroes’ trials and
tribulations, a bright future awaits them– Dragon Quest inspires us to believe the same can happen for our lives. That is why I think we’ve continued to
love this series for these long 30 years. What wonderful tales do they have in store for us next…? Consider the favorite words of Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii… “Life is a role-playing game!” The hero of your life, is you. The only person who can make you happy is you
yourself–so make your tale a great one! You aren’t a “side character” in someone else’s story. So don’t be put off by what other people think,
or get caught up in comparisons with them– Live your own life as you see best. That’s the message I hope Dragon Quest gives people. “Life is role-playing!”
Slime: Happy New Year!
Signed, Yuji Horii. Thank you for playing!
Please hold the Reset button while turning off the power. (err, actually don’t do that–
please keep enjoying NHK programming!)

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Comments

  1. Thank you so so so so much for this translation. Thank God for Dragon Quest and those who created it.

    Life is an RPG. And you are the hero!

  2. 8:10 lmao he’s playing Pokemon go XD

    Also, thank you so much for translating this! I really love seeing the works behind such an amazing franchise

  3. That snes-like sequence was genius ☺️😍

    Overall this is a very interesting video, thank you for translating

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