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Dragon Quest X is a game perfectly tailored to bring Japanese players into the world of MMORPGs for the first time. It's part of a big-named series, it's very easy to pick up and play, and it's on a system that 12.5 million Japanese already have sitting in their living rooms. However, it's the very things that make the game such a good fit for Japan that also make it a near certain failure should it ever be released to the rest of the world.

Simply put, Dragon Quest X is incredibly backwards when compared to the big MMORPGs of today. It borrows heavily in design from JRPGs, and while this makes the game familiar to any JRPG player, it is a format largely unsuited to MMO play.

In JRPGs, if you're not strong enough to continue the main story, you are expected to go off and level-up. Dragon Quest X demands the same thing, though with an MMO's pacing so you spend hours grinding for exp. Quests do exist, but they award no exp and are usually just a means of unlocking a new feature or furthering the overall plot.

In most MMOs, even without quests, grinding of this nature would likely net you some impressive rare items which you could potentially use or sell. In the 20 hours I spent with Dragon Quest X, literally the only items I found were crafting ingredients and consumable items. Moreover, there is never any trash loot, rather you get a small bit of gold for each kill—so small it took me eight battles to accumulate enough for the price of an inn. Indeed, just like in single-player JRPGs, the only ways to heal your HP and MP are by going to an inn or using consumable items. Moreover, both inns and all kinds of items are incredibly over-priced, making the economy for starting players more than a little frustrating.


Other problems arise from the fact that Dragon Quest X is on the Wii instead of the PC. I have already complained about the chat system at length, but it deserves to be mentioned again. It is the most counterintuitive typing system in a video game ever. And while you can solve this by plugging in a USB keyboard, you better hope the Wii's USB ports aren't already filled (with the Wii LAN Adapter alongside the 16 GB USB drive required for play, for example).


Moreover, the Wii is not exactly the most powerful system on the block. Not only does it have severe graphics lag in crowded areas, but also the enemy draw distance is so short in some places that you literally stumble over enemies.

The idea of basing an MMORPG on traditional JRPG gameplay is not without merit. However, Dragon Quest X feels like what would happen if someone tried to reinvent the MMORPG from scratch using JRPGs as a starting point. Of course, this carries the inherent problem that it ignores all the lessons learned as MMOs have evolved and thus DQX includes a myriad of bad design choices that have largely disappeared from MMOs over the last two decades. So while Dragon Quest X may bring MMOs to the mainstream in Japan, it will look painfully backwards to the rest of the world should it ever get an international release.

Dragon Quest X was released on August 2, 2012, for the Nintendo Wii in Japan. There is currently no word on an international release.