The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the most recognizable games of all time, with an iconic overworld that players become intimately familiar with during their travels as the Hero of Time. A prolific creator recently took a stab at recreating Hyrule in the blocky anime style of Dragon Quest Builders, with absolutely beautiful results.
For two years, BenXC has regularly uploaded YouTube videos showcasing his Dragon Quest Builders projects, which range from relatively simple builds like hotels and bridges to more detailed ones like the treehouse from The Simpsons. A little while back, BenXC previewed work on a muchlargerproject to recreate the overworld of A Link to the Past, followed by detailed looks at his work on the Eastern Palace and Death Mountain. Now, seven months later, he’s ready to unveil the entire thing.
According to the above video, BenXC spent 150 hours faithfully constructing the landmarks and monuments of Hyrule in Dragon Quest Builders 2. Fans of A Link to the Past will immediately recognize some of its most iconic locations, like Hyrule Castle and the Lost Woods. BenXC says that the venture includes over 300,000 blocks, not to mention the 2,500 trees he had to plant by hand. It’s an incredibly detailed project that adds a brand new look to the classic world of A Link to the Past.
The coolest thing about games like Dragon Quest Builders, Minecraft, and Mario Maker are the tools they give users to flex their creative muscles. This often results in folks transplanting completely different games into these spaces, giving us the opportunity to view classics with a new coat of paint. Interested players can check out BenXC’s version of A Link to the Past’s Hyrule for themselves by using the following Island ID: npyrd8ZJVM. Happy exploring!
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This is Hamako Mori. At 89, she’s not new to video games. She has been playing them for nearly four decades.
In an interview with GameSpark, the Tokyo native says the first console she played was the Cassette Vision, which was released in 1981. After that, she was into the Famicom and played The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest. She continued gaming through the years that followed.
For the past few years, Mori has been uploading clips to YouTube. Previously, Mori had watched other Let’s Plays and decided to start uploading her own clips.
“The graphics for the recent games are truly amazing,” she said. “I think it’s truly wonderful to have lived this long.”
“As you get older, I recommend single-player games over multiplayer,” she said. “Inevitably, if you’re on the battlefield with younger players, you’ll slow them down… But, I think as the number of elderly players increases, there will be dedicated servers where that won’t be a concern.”
The gaming granny is looking forward to the next Grand Theft Auto and Elder Scrolls.
“If you play video games, you don’t get dementia,” she told GameSpark, adding that her biggest piece of advice is to start playing video games when you’re young.
“If you are into fashion or playing sports, there comes a time when you cannot continue those hobbies.” The same isn’t true for games, Mori believes. “Even as you get older, it’s wonderful to keep gaming.”
The first three games of famous Japanese role-playing game series Dragon Quest are coming to the Switch, Square Enix announced this morning.
On September 27, 1986’s Dragon Quest, 1987’s Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line and 1988’s Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation will be available on the Nintendo Switch. Originally, when they came to the U.S., the games were titled Dragon Warrior. The games are delightfully cheap, with Dragon Quest selling for $4.99, Dragon Quest II for $6.49 and Dragon Quest III at $12.49.
We’re already up to Dragon Quest XI, so the throwback will be fun, or at least educational, for anyone who got in on the series more recently.
This week, Nintendo put out a demo for the Switch version of Dragon Quest XI, and it’s got at least a few new features we didn’t know about before. My favorite has to be the toggle that makes townspeople lie.
Dragon Quest XI, which came out last year for PS4 and PC and launches on September 27 for Switch (as an enhanced edition with plenty of new features, like a redone soundtrack and a 2D graphics mode), has a set of optional toggles called Draconian Quest. These options are mainly meant to make the game more challenging—one of them reduces the experience you gain from enemies; another makes monsters stronger, and so on. The Switch version adds a couple of new ones, including Townsfolk Talk Tripe, which I of course selected immediately:
Anyone who’s played an RPG or two knows that when an NPC tells you they heard a rumor about a mysterious sword buried under a nearby waterfall, it’s always going to be true. I love the idea of a massive game like Dragon Quest XI sticking in some lies just to screw with you, and this is a fun wrinkle for anyone who’s already played the game and wants to play again. (I also recommend turning on some of those challenges, because Dragon Quest XI is painfully easy—for this second playthrough, I’ve put on stronger monsters. Plus, if things get too tough, you can turn off these Draconian Quest toggles at any church in the game.)
I’ve just started the demo—which is reportedly 10 hours long and worth downloading now if you plan to play Dragon Quest XI on Switch, since you can transfer your save to the proper game—so I don’t yet know how this will come to fruition, but I for one cannot wait to try to sort out who’s telling the truth. Lie to me, Dragon Quest XI NPCs. LIE TO ME.
Today, Smash daddy Masahiro Sakurai announced that Dragon Quest’s Hero fighter will arrive in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate today as part of the version 4.0 update.
The Heroes, referred to as “Hero” in-game, are from Dragon Quest XI S, Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest IV,and Dragon Quest VIII—each expressed as different skins for the base fighter. Along with them, six Dragon Quest songs are coming to Smash, including two from each released game, as well as a Dragon Quest stage called Yggdrasil’s Altar.
Players can buy the fighter pack for $5.99 when it’s online today, Sakurai announced in a video this morning:
Also announced today in the 4.0 update, fighters’ final smash meters now have a time limit. “That will make it harder to use your attack range to play a waiting game,” Sakurai explained. Smash Ultimate’s adventure mode is getting a “very easy” difficulty, too, and now, players in “spectator mode” can bet on who they think will win in exchange for points.
Lastly, Smash Ultimate is getting an online tournament mode. Finally. And yet, in proper Smash online fashion, it seems a little wonky: The rulesets will change periodically.
After Hero, Smash players will get the long-awaited Banjo & Kazooie this fall. Then, there are just two unannounced mystery fighters left. Perhaps one of them is Goku-shaped?
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
In Dragon Quest Builders 2, you play as a little anime friend who knows how to build stuff in a world where building things is outlawed. It’s very funny. Often in the game’s opening hours, you will construct something like a simple straw mat, and people will look at you like you invented a bubble gum that makes people sing like Ariana Grande. How did you do that? They will wonder. Is that allowed? They will ask. You didn’t just…”build” somethingdid you? They might fret.
Once their amazement passes, another funny thing happens, one that actually matters for your progress through the game. The characters for whom you built something will rush over in excitement, and literally explode with joy. Little yellow, green, and orange hearts burst out from them for you to collect. These hearts are what Dragon Quest Builders 2 calls gratitude points. Collect enough of them, and you can ring the bell at the center of the town you’re in to level up that town, unlocking new blueprints and recipes for you to build and craft and generally just make an even better town.
Helping townsfolk is a staple of role-playing games. It’s one of the weird little idiosyncrasies of the genre, which often casts players as powerful warriors who are capable of stopping existential threats but also presumes that they wouldn’t get annoyed by a farmer asking them to find a chicken that ran off.Dragon Quest games in particular are well-suited to this kind of diversion. That’s because they are, as Kotaku’s Tim Rogers noted in his review of Dragon Quest XI, basically bedtime stories. They’re meant to be sweet and endearing, just as much storybook as they are games. They’re stories set in worlds where helping people is something everyone does, just because it’s nice and right.
I think about that a lot as I play Dragon Quest Builders 2. Watching its little townsfolk explode with gratitude, it’s nice to see these ideas made just a little more tangible, to see how they feel externalized in a gameplay system. While you could argue (and I would) that the purity of that feeling is compromised by attaching it to a system that lets you earn new things, making all of your altruistic efforts into more of a transaction, the moment of the heart explosion itself remains a joy. It’s a joy to know that you helped someone, a joy to know that they deeply appreciate that help, that they’re glad you’re here, that you could make their lives a little bit better.
Dragon Quest XI features a collection of gut-wrenching, bittersweet redemption stories.
The Dragon Quest series often puts the spotlight on tragic stories affecting its main characters and NPCs alike. NPC characterization is strong in the worlds of Dragon Quest, with Dragon Quest XI paying special attention to its cast as well as the characters they meet along the way. The common theme with just about every important character in the game is that their story arcs entail overcoming personal guilt and carving out paths of absolution, even if this means getting a chance to do so in an altered timeline.
One of Dragon Quest XI’s best story quests has two very different endings. One gives its central characters a happy, fairy-tale ending. It’s a stark contrast to the other ending in which the forgiveness one character achieves comes at a horrible cost.
In the village of Hotto, the Hero and his companions learn that the head chief, Miko, is in an awful predicament. The story takes many turns but at the heart of it, the party discover that Miko chose a mother of two young children, Atsuo and Atsuko, to be a sacrifice to appease the gods and temper the volcano near their village. It’s an alarming decision given the usual village rites are performed with fruit, corn, and silk.
In an attempt to find out what’s really going on, the kids and your party learn Miko’s secret: Tatsunaga, a dragon which terrorizes Hotto, and which Miko said she slayed in a battle alongside her son Ryu, is actually still alive. As the children deduce, Miko intends to feed the beast with humans. In true Dragon Quest form, the twist doesn’t stop there. Miko’s real secret adds another complex layer to the entire affair: Ryu, who supposedly died in that battle, was actually cursed by the beast during the fight and transformed into Tatsunaga.
Ryu as Tatsunaga returns to the village in an attack that sees Miko throwing herself to the beast in an effort to protect him from being killed by the villagers. In that moment, Miko decides to give herself up as food to satiate Tatsunaga’s hunger. It’s later learned that she found the magic mirror, a mythical item that reveals true forms, and was trying to use it to cure Ryu but could not get it to work, hence her decision to use the villagers’ lives as food until she could figure it out. Eventually, the group face off against Tatsunaga and the curse is lifted (Miko has the mirror on her when she is consumed, and it works from the inside—yikes), with a tragic ending of a young man’s soul freed without the knowledge that he killed his own mother.
It’s a complicated story that poses a difficult scenario for Miko in which she weighs the life of many against that of her beloved offspring. Dragon Quest XI does a curious thing here: it pulls at heartstrings by giving Ryu peace, and he’s able to cross into the next life with his regained human soul. But while Miko’s last minute decision is a selfless act, she arguably gets an ending that is deserved for her commitment to execute a grievous sin—her punishment fit the crime, so to speak.
Achieving redemption isn’t always a cut and dry affair in Dragon Quest XI’s world of Erdrea, leaving characters with profound consequences to bear.
Neither character gets much of a happy ending in this scenario. When Ryu gives Atsuo a message to deliver to his mother he unknowingly kills, it’s heart-wrenching. In that message, he says that he’ll wait for her in the afterlife. It’s unclear to me if Miko would even be able to join him given the gravity of her sins. I found it particularly sorrowful, as the player looking into this world, that I became the keeper of the horrible truth of Miko’s demise.
Miko, for her part, gets her forgiveness from the villagers after her death. Atsuo notes that although she betrayed them, sacrificing herself is what ultimately saved them.
There’s a second meeting with Miko and Ryu that is attainable in the post-game where altering events of the past is necessary for achieving Dragon Quest XI’s true ending. In the post-game timeline, crafting a powerful end-game weapon will take players back to Hotto. In that quest, Miko and Ryu get a happier ending without their respective deaths as the magic mirror works without Miko being eaten, and Ryu surviving the curse. It’s a better resolution to a story in which Miko does not resort to murder out of desperation. For me, the original timeline’s story is much more impactful even though it’s quite tear-jerking seeing their reunion. But I might be a horrible person who much preferred the drawn-out twists and turns that Dragon Quest XI dishes out to disastrous results.
But there’s something poetic about the fact that I had to work hard to give Miko and Ryu that good ending, given that it is a part of the post-game. I’m not a person who usually delves into a game after seeing the credits roll the first time. It adds a whole other layer to the game where these characters could live in one timeline and never see a second, if not for players actively seeking it out. Although to be fair, Dragon Quest XI gives you a very good reason to play the post-game content, which I won’t spoil here.
Miko and Ryu’s tragic tale is just one of many in Dragon Quest XI’s world. While the post-game can bring about relatively happier endings to some, how the game expertly crafts each of its stories is one of Dragon Quest XI’s greatest achievements. Even for some of the more predictable outcomes, the game deftly subverts expectations on how the stories play out by including subtle twists to draw out empathy and emotion in players. For some characters, redemption comes with endings that humble them. For others, forgiveness does not come as easily, resulting in incredible depth to the narratives the game tells.
Playing a main series Dragon Quest game is a serious time investment. I’ve finished half of them, and the last three I played (V, VII, and VIII) each required almost 100 hours. But there’s something special about the games that director Yuji Horii is involved with, whether it’s the Dragon Quest games, Chrono Trigger, or even the classic adventure game The Portopia Serial Murder Case, that make those hours go by quickly.
A major part of the signature Horii touch is the attention to detail in almost every aspect of the game’s inhabitants. Dragon Quest XI is full of quirky, funny, and tragic NPCs that make the world feel alive and a joy to spend time in. They give the story more gravity because you actually care about its inhabitants. Saving Erdrea means rescuing people you care about. Here are some of the ones that were most memorable for me from the first half of the game.
In Dragon Quest XI, everyone gets attention. Priests at churches have a personality as they carry out their functions. Sometimes they’re somberly warning you, other times they’re reveling in drinks at a celebration. Storekeepers comment on the news of the day and are affected by events, like in Phnom Nohn, when many of its inhabitants have been kidnapped. One of the children has actually taken over for her mom and there’s a desperation in her voice as she says, “My mother is coming back. I know it. I am only looking after the shop until she returns. Maybe you would like to buy something, sir?” Even though I didn’t need anything, I bought a bunch of stuff from her.
Laguna di Gondolia has one of the most hilarious sales interactions. There are two brothers who are merchants and one of them sells a catsuit for 10,000 gold—pricey, to say the least. If you go to his brother and tell him about the initial offer, he’ll offer the same suit at a lower price. By going between the two brothers, their competitive nature takes over, and you can bargain them down to 1,000. The funniest part is how aggressive they get in their haggling and how much of their relationship is conveyed through their angry dialogue. You can tell this rivalry has been going on for years, and I couldn’t help but wonder what family get-togethers were like for them.
This cycle continues later on with a very strong armored suit, which has the additional effect of changing the wearer’s appearance. The first brother sells it for 100,000 gold, which is very steep. Go to the other brother, who makes a “special offer” of “only 50,000 gold coins.” The haggling continues until one of the brothers offers it at 5,000 gold because “I cannot lose to my brother! I do anything to beat him!” It had me cracking up as I bought this badass armor at a 95 percent discount.
While Dragon Quest XI has a massive world, these touches for background characters that are usually relegated to functional uses (buy, sell, save) help make it feel smaller, more personable. When was the last time you remembered a shopkeeper in a RPG?
One of the most moving sidequests seems simple on the surface. Deliver “A Lovely Letter” from a soldier, Hakim, in the Gallopolis region to his sister, Akia, in Laguna di Gondolia, which is where the hero is heading. She’d gone there to pursue her dream of becoming a baker, but Hakim hasn’t heard from her in some time. As a footsoldier, he doesn’t have the liberty of leaving his post, so he is desperate for help. After you accept and head over to the bakery in Gondolia, you learn Akia actually quit and is now working as a maid for Doge Rotondo. You find her sweeping the floor outside, and once you hand her the letter, Akia eagerly opens up it up. She reads the letter to find what Hakim has written: “Now that the misery of our old life is a thing of the past, I pray that you are enjoying your freedom. I cannot wait to see you blossom into a fully-fledged baker.” He had placed a few gold coins in the letter to support her.
I wondered what misery he was talking about. “Oh, poor Hakim,” she says to you. “How he must scrimp and save in order to send me money…”
She asks if the Luminary (that’s you) can return a letter, but also not to tell Hakim that she no longer works at the bakery. The letter she writes is equally painful. “I know that it cannot be easy for you to have to support us both. If it were not for your assistance, I would be unable to follow my dream of becoming a baker… I will continue to work hard, Hakim. I want you to be proud of me.” She continues the lie so that both of them can keep going, persisting through their difficult time with hope.
The story doesn’t end here. As Hakim reveals, their tragedy isn’t the evil monsters of Erdrea. It’s their father. “He was once a kind and gentle man, but then he suffered a terrible injury, which made him horribly bitter. Akia and I would often bear the brunt of his frustration.” Hakim is fighting for her future to try to make up for her past.
The interesting thing is, neither letter is integral to the plot. The material reward is just a cookbook. But the developers had changed what would normally be a simple trading quest into a glimpse of a family tragedy, where you realize even the freedom of being able to wander from town to town is a privilege. I wanted to give them some of my hoarded gold just to help them. The follow-up quest reveals even more about their circumstances and has a touching conclusion. This quest, more than all the monsters I’d fought and evils I’d vanquished, made me feel like a true Luminary, someone trying to restore light to a world being consumed by human darkness.
A Mermaid’s Quest
The playable characters in Dragon Quest XI have really great story arcs and the party talk option is an excellent way to gauge everyone’s mood. Every campfire break has interesting exchanges, and the fact that you can swap characters out at any time in battle means everyone gets field time. But it’s still Horii’s NPCs that steal the show, as in other games. This includes Chrono Trigger’s Fiona and her dream of reforesting the Sunken Desert, or the priest in Vogograd who sacrifices himself in Dragon Quest VII for the mental wellbeing of his fellow townspeople.
In Dragon Quest XI, an encounter with a rhyming mermaid named Michelle leads to one of the most memorable quests in the game. Initially, Michelle mistakes the Luminary for Kai, the human lover she’s been waiting for. Kai had promised to return so they could get married. When one of your teammates, Veronica, questions whether a human and mermaid can be wed, Michelle explains the Mermaid’s Burden: “If a mermaid leaves the sea and makes the land her home, if ever she gets wet again, she melts away to foam.” Because of that curse, Kai promised to come to the sea with her, and they received special permission from the Queen Beneath the Sea to live together in the underwater city Nautica. Michelle asks if you can go to Lonalulu and check up on him.
But when you get to Lonalulu, you learn that interspecies love isn’t exactly a popular political position. The citizens of the sea village despise the mermaid, believing they have a bewitching influence on humans. Horii’s narratives often play with public perception this way, so that those you think are the heroes turn out to be villains, and vice versa, and back again. Eventually, the party finds Kai’s mother, who tells them the story of one of the village’s best fishermen. The mayor of Lonalulu, the Big Kahuna, gave the fisherman “the hand of his beloved daughter” Leilani. But when he got lost in a storm,m he was rescued by a mermaid who stole his soul, causing him to forsake the woman he was engaged to. Even when he returned to Lonalulu, he just wanted to get back to the mermaid. Eventually, the fishermen was banished to Saikiki and forbidden from sailing again.
I was confused on which version of the story was true. Had Kai had his soul stolen, or had he fallen in love? When your party finally meets Kai, he at first is confused and tells you his full name is Kainui, then realizes they have him mixed up with his grandfather, Kainoa. Since mermaids have much longer lives, a generation had passed since Kainoa had met the mermaid. You learn from Kainui that the fishermen in his mom’s story was Kainoa, her father and his grandfather. Shortly after being exiled, a storm killed the chief Kahuna as well as his daughter’s new husband. Leilani had previously given birth to a new baby with her husband, but mother and daughter also disappeared. The villagers, believing the mermaid had taken them as revenge, were furious, and marched to Saikiki beach to confront Kainoa. They found him there with a baby whom they believed was the unholy result of a mermaid and a human. Shocked, they left him there. But that baby was Kainui’s mother. Did that mean Kainui was a quarter mermaid?
I have a confession to make before I go on. When I was much younger, I watched an animated version of The Little Mermaid—an anime film released in 1975 by Toei, not the Disney version. It was one of the few movies I remember bringing me to tears and I was sobbing because the ending, based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, was so sad.
So as I played through this scene, learning the true identity of that baby, it brought back flashes of that memory. The party learns from a letter Kainoa left behind that he wanted to return to the mermaid, but he could not keep his promise after his exile. That was because he saw his ex-fiance, Leilani, “standing on the cliffs” of Saikiki Beach. “With her father and husband gone, she had lost all hope… and reason… Before my disbelieving eyes, she threw herself into the ocean.” Kainoa tried to save them, but only the baby survived. Wracked by the guilt of his ex-fiancée’s death, he felt he had a responsibility to take care of their child. So he stayed behind and raised her as his own.
While I didn’t openly sob this time around, I had to blink back tears. As the Luminary, my primary power was to shine a light on the truth. But I was powerless after I told Michelle the truth about what happened, and she opted to sacrifice herself. She faded away into foam, their love never fulfilled.
I was aghast. Even writing this article, I still feel depressed thinking about their love and the weight of remorse that must have hammered Kainoa everytime he looked at his new baby. He bore the censure and contempt of the villagers without protest, feeling it was just punishment for what his actions had caused.
There are so many more great NPCs in Dragon Quest XI. I could go on about the prince of Gallipolis pretending to be someone he’s not, the whole troupe of Sylvando’s Smile Brigade, or some of the wackier encounters players face in the Masked Martial Arts tournament of Octagonia. While the overall quest is of an appropriately epic scale in this eternal battle of good versus evil, it’s the all-too-human struggles of the minor character that make the game really stand out, echoing elusively about relationships that resonate long after we’ve left the world behind.