E3 '07: Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker Hands-On

We check out the next Dragon Quest game, which combines monster hunting with traditional RPG elements.


Earlier this year at Square Enix's 20th anniversary festival, Japanese fans clamored to watch a live tournament on stage of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker. Some of the best players in the country battled it out to prove who had the best monster-taming skills in front of a nearly packed house of fans cheering for the contestants as if they were pro athletes. It was a testament not just to the very different space video games inhabit in Japanese culture, but to the overwhelming popularity of the DQ series in that country. Soon, American fans will be able to see what all the fuss is about, as Square Enix is set to bring this Nintendo DS game to American shores in November of this year. We had a chance to get some hands-on time with the game at Square Enix's E3 booth to see just how the localized version of this monster-hunting RPG is coming along.

While purists might be wondering why the next game in the fabled Dragon Quest is coming to the DS, let's get this out of the way right now: This game has an amazing look. Using a cel-shaded look based off the Dragon Quest 8 engine combined with series creator Akira Toriyama's familiar character designs, the game features a gorgeous look that really seems to be getting the most out of the DS's hardware. Draw distances, for example, are far longer than you might typically expect from the handheld, and there's a nice amount of detail to the enemies and environments alike.

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

DQ Monsters will tell the tale of a lone hero who starts the game in a jail cell. Luckily for him, the jail is run by the hero's father, who secures his son's release just in time for him to enter a monster-battling tournament. Once freed, it's up to the hero to explore the lands that make up the game's various levels, battling and collecting monsters to use in the tournament in the process. The game will run on a day and night cycle, so that some monsters will be available only at certain times of the day. The monster roster in DQ Monsters will run the gamut from standard enemies such as slimes and crabits and a new breed of high-level monsters that will likely be a tough challenge to face.

Battles in DQ Monsters plays are fairly straightforward RPG combat in nature, though there are some twists to the formula that keep things interesting. You can have three monsters in your party at any given time, and you can either issue each monster individual orders for who and how to attack the enemies you encounter, or you can issue general tactics for each of your party members and then let the battle play out in a slightly more hands-off fashion. The available tactics are show no mercy, mix it up, focus on healing, and don't use magic, all of which will have their specific uses depending on the situation. You can reset your tactics after each turn, or go back to issuing individual commands if you need to micromanage the fight a bit more.

Because DQ Monsters is a monster-collecting game, you'll have the ability to scout enemy monsters and potentially add them to your stable. To do so, you choose "scout" from the menu, which will have your character enable his scout ring. The goal here isn't to defeat your opponent, but rather impress him by showing him your battle skill. Land a good spell on your target and he might be impressed with your acumen; screw up a move and he'll be left decidedly unimpressed. In addition, the type of monsters involved in the combat will determine your success at successfully recruiting an enemy--some monsters are more compatible than others. If you manage to impress an enemy enough, he'll be able to either join your party immediately or be sent back to storage for later use in the game.

Of course, there's more to DQ Monsters than the single-player story. You'll also be able to synthesize new monsters by "mating" a male and female creature. The new monster will be utterly unique in ability, if not appearance, and you'll be able to trade monsters with friends. There's also a head-to-head battling using the DS's wireless connection, which, as we described in the beginning, is apparently an incredibly popular pastime in Japan. There's even a "chance encounter" feature that will alert your DS if another DQ Monsters player is in the area and looking for a battle. While it's not certain the game will gain the strong foothold it has overseas, DQ Monsters certainly looks to provide plenty of fun for fans of the DQ series and monster-hunting genre. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker is due for release in November, and we'll be bringing you more information about the game in the coming months.

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Avatar image for Manticore32


Avatar image for hellpolice

I really enjoyed Dragon Quest VIII. I can't wait to try this one too!

Avatar image for spottednoble

Oh man! Sweet! Just sweet! I still have DWM: Terry's Wonderland. I actually beat Milayou again today. XD I'm seriously getting tired of Pokemon. It's so flippin' dry now. This game is totally different, 8 moves (If it stays that way), being able to make any monster strong, and giving it any moves you want through chain breeding. A deeper and much more involved storyline! I should play through DWM again just so I can get into the zone again. =P Can't wait for this game to come out. It'll bring back so much, and I won't have to play and wonder why I am playing in the first place since this game will have WiFi compatibility.

Avatar image for Schwarte

I am currently considering to buy a DS just to play this.

Avatar image for PDCollins6

I've never actually bought a Dragon Quest game but Square has never let me down yet!......Yes I erased not making SMRPG2 from my memory.

Avatar image for 69

Meh, id rather a standard DQ/DW game. Especially considering the tendancy towards simple graphics, and absurdly long (and occasionally deep) gameplay.

Avatar image for Cocoaleo

I have and beaten DWM 1 & 2. When I saw this would most likely be coming to this shore, I freaked! DWM all the way baby!

Avatar image for luigispatch

Auto buy for me.XP

Avatar image for Nexeus

Revolutionfreak, same exact game as the other 3 DWM games for GBC

Avatar image for shatgan2222

Look a little promising...

Avatar image for REVOLUTIONfreak

It does have an online feature... they just failed to mention it in this preview. I'm looking forward to this game, and will probably buy it, but I still don't understand the layout of the game. Is it just like a normal DQ game only with monsters instead of a party? Or is it some kind of an extremely linear game?

Avatar image for cfamgcn

This game needs a online feature...

Avatar image for The_Weekend

long overdue ...bring it over!

Avatar image for Raeldor

DQ VIII was my first introduction to the DQ series, and I absolutely loved it. If this is anything near the same quality it will be GREAT!

Avatar image for kingrich06

i like the look. Another thing to look forward to come november.

Avatar image for WhytePanther

Actually, DQM is a lot simpler than Pokemon in it's game mechanics... Or at least it was in the previous incarnations... It was virtually trivial to get max 999 stats with whatever moves you want, and the only differences were the species different resistances (although there were a few that were obviously the best) Don't get me wrong, I loved the first DQM games, but saying they're more complex than Pokemon isn't true. More maturely themed, perhaps, but those games were about children who raised monsters too.

Avatar image for skatrbub54

i love DQ!!

Avatar image for King_Dodongo

Can't wait to see the awesome batlles

Avatar image for Willy105

Good graphics.

Avatar image for citrus_oranges

dragon warrior monster was one of my favorite games ever, i hope this exceeds it greatly as i been also looking toward for it.

Avatar image for Raykuza

Sounds like the Pokemon for older gamers. Pokemon is kept very simple so that it appeals more to the younger crowd while this just seems more elaborate. It's like Pokemon with maxed potential.

Avatar image for Denjin_hadouken

Sounds cool

Avatar image for nsdcx121

I hate how uninformed gamers are nowadays. This game is a Pokemon ripoff? It's pretty much the opposite. Dragon Quest has been around since the 80's and the first Dragon Warrior Monsters game came out a year after the first two Pokemon games. Now, if I remember correctly, the first two Pokemon games didn't have breeding. Dragon Warrior Monsters did. Pokemon was strictly 1v1 at the time, DWM was 3v3. You catch Pokemon with Pokeballs, you use meat to influence monsters in DWM, but you don't know whether they'll join you until after the battle. The only elements that these two games have in common are that they are both RPGs and battle monsters against each other. Pokemon is NOTHING compared to Dragon Warrior Monsters. Oh, and just to remind everyone, Dragon Quest 9 is exclusively on the DS, so anyone hoping to get it on the PS3 will be disappointed. But its not that hard to be disappointed when you own a PS3 anyways.

Avatar image for SaxxyGamer18

Why didn't Pokemon Diamond/Pearl use some form of 3D graphics and not the same Game Boy Advance style as before? It's really annoying.

Avatar image for gord_mose

Sounds like fun. Maybe it will be more approachable than the Shin Megami series. I know I enjoyed the monster battles in the most recent Dragon Quest game that came out on the PS2.

Avatar image for speedracer216

for those who think this is a pokemon ripoff... WRONG DQ Monsters has been around for a while on portable systems. like pokemon it is in the monster-trainer genre, but rpg's had monster -training before pokemon. in any event, if you like pokemon or any rpg you will LOVE this game because it is the best of both. and the Monster taming, leveling, and breeding are FAR more advanced then pokemon. The monsters can learn tons of different moves based on how they are bread (they can inherit moves from their previous generations). to get the ultimate monster in the other games was incredibly difficult because it could take a dozen or more breedings (2 monsters each) with higher and higher level monster to get taht ultimate monster. you can find all the monsters from the DQ games... even BOSSES!!! so enjoy! i know i will :)

Avatar image for WhiteRedDragon

I wish they would make a new Dragon Quest game for the PS2 or 3, I never really cared for playing games on the small screen.

Avatar image for kappareign

man, this game looks awesome. ive never played a DQ title but i wouldnt mind starting with this

Avatar image for TheMenu

Japanese...lol. Well, go ahead...this is Pokemon. Get creative, Japanese...lol.

Avatar image for Adam_the_Nerd

Sounds like Pokemon but with the depth maximized for us older crowd. Man like mentioned in previous comments. 8 moves a monster? Breeding so the monsters that YOU like can actually be strong? I mean in Pokemon, everyone wanted a Scyther on their team, but bugs would just get owned. This way, you see something cool that is essentially weak, you breed it to make it strong. Sounds KICKASS!

Avatar image for vietsquall

i remember back then playing the monsters series and Pokemon. even though i was a kid, i knew that Pokemon got owned. In depth breeding, making any monster you like potentially strong. and 8 moves per monster? hell yeah.

Avatar image for Strider316

It should be good....dragon quest is known for its story-lines and solid rpg action

Avatar image for expert-yeti

I was really excited about this game, but it seems a little like Pokemon to me....hmmm

Avatar image for villanX

yes ive been waiting for a new DQM ever since DWM on the GBC

Avatar image for Princecake

I hope we'll get a phoenix quest soon :D

Avatar image for ReeceBrown

ive wanted a DQM since i bought dragon quest 2 monsters on GBC BY FAR my favorite gameboy game:):)

Avatar image for Darkstar_Sinada

Dragon Quest + Pokemon? Sounds good enough to me.

Avatar image for basal1sk

i think its only ds

Avatar image for BlackMage009

hope PSP gets a verson of this game

Avatar image for Liamland

It's good to see a new DQ game. I never was into the Monsters spin-offs; they were a bit too Pokemon for my taste. But it's good to see new DQ being released in the US.

Avatar image for salamancecool

I had the first one a GBC and it was great. Gonna get this one for old times sake.

Avatar image for R3B311I0N

Oh man, the first 2 GBC games were so damn good, I remember wasting dozens of hours on them, and I'm sure the practice will continue with Joker. This game has everything I could possibly want from a DS monster sim, full 3D graphics (take that Pokemon), amazing art design from Toriyama-san, and all that set in the DQ universe. BOth this and DQ 9 are at the top of my list of must buys. If anyone doubts this is nothing more then a Pokemon rip off, I dare you to pick up the GBC titles. Even today those games hold up amazingly well, and setting it in the DQ universe gives it a totally different feel then Pokemon.

Avatar image for karriston

Ugh, another Dragon Quest game *yawns*

Avatar image for Raiko101

Dragon Quest for a 5 year old? Although this game is suitable for 5 year olds. That doesn't mean it is aimed at 5 year olds. I mean the concept of breeding isn't going to grab a childs attention is it? Anyway, I think the game looks alright. Not really my cup of tea. But I would buy it if I lived in Japan as I like the idea of battling strangers in the street with my DS! lol

Avatar image for Poison_Me_Rum

I remember the Dragon Quest Monsters game on the GameBoy Color, and it was so much fun! The graphics look sweet and I just know the gameplay will be really addictive! Can't wait for this one!

Avatar image for niqpere

why those eveything that gets released for the ds look like its for a 5 year old ill pass

Avatar image for namdead01

Even though I don't own a DS I have Dragon Quest 8 for the PS2 and I think this game look dam good for all the owners of the DS

Avatar image for syncroshadow

is it a custom character. has this come out in japan alrdy.

Avatar image for Okamiblader

I think DQM is the best when it comes to a monster game. All the elements make it more for adept RPG players then just for kids like Pokemon. What really bothers me is that it seems Pokemon took alot of its elements from the DQM series, such as breeding, giving food to monsters to make them like you more, eggs, and natures. Another thing is that your stats in DQM can be the same for all monsters (999 for everything) whereas in pokemon they use the stupid effort values. DQM should of been the better series for a monster game, not Pokemon! In fact, I think pokemon (after red and blue) are a rip-off of DQM, not the other way around!

Avatar image for DSgamer64

Pokemon lacks things that the DQ Monsters series has, and thats the breeding system. Anyone who is familiar with the previous games would agree that breeding in DQM is just as tough, if not harder to obtain the best monsters in the game. Pokemon lacks that challenge which requires you to capture monsters just so you can get better ones. Also, the plus system is really nice because in order to get say a Slime King or a Spot King, you need to breed two Slime's that are +5 or two Spot Slime's that are +5, I think only one has to be +5 in the partner system though. There are so many reasons why DQM is better then Pokemon, the gameplay alone is a lot more addictive, but the drawback for this installment is that there are less monsters then the previous two games which had more then 130 monsters, I think Joker only has like

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