Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince Interview - Talking Monsters and More with Kento Yokota

One of December's biggest RPG releases is the return of the Dragon Quest Monsters franchise with Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince.

While we've seen a handful of newer Dragon Quest spinoffs in recent years, such as Dragon Quest Treasures, the anime-infused Adventure of Dai, or the excellent Dragon Quest Builders series, Monsters specifically hadn't seen a new entry since 2016's Joker 3, which never officially made it's way to English audiences. The Dark Prince effectively reboots the sub-series for a worldwide audience.

Ahead of launch for Nintendo Switch, RPG Site had the chance to ask producer Kento Yokota a few questions about the revived sub-series. You can read our quick chat with the producer below.

Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince releases on December 1 for Nintendo Switch. Note that these questions were sent over to Square Enix before the release of the game. 

RPG Site: First of all, can you introduce yourself and describe your history with the Dragon Quest series? How did you start with Dragon Quest?

Kento Yokota: My first professional involvement with the Dragon Quest series was as part of the QA team for Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. I then moved through other departments and joined the Dragon Quest series PR team. A few years later, I became a producer, and the first title I worked on as a producer was the 3DS version of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age which released in Japan.

RPG Site: How and why was it decided to place a new Monsters game in an alternate version of Dragon Quest IV (rather than aligned with the other DQ Monsters games)?

Yokota: The Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker series — which had continued for about 10 years — had already concluded, and we were looking to renew the Monsters series, leading us to kick off this project. There were multiple changes from the previous games, but among them was our desire to build a solid storyline, and after consulting the creator of the Dragon Quest series, Yuji Horii, we decided to depict the story with Psaro as the protagonist.

RPG Site: Dragon Quest IV's Psaro and Rose have a tragic fate in the original game unless the player puts in extra effort. How did you approach revisiting these characters in a new entry?

Yokota: This slightly overlaps with my previous answer, but when we considered enhancing the story further from previous Dragon Quest Monsters games and when we considered who might be a suitable protagonist when doing so, Psaro came to mind. It’s rare for the Dragon Quest series to focus on the antagonist, the dark side if you will, and I thought it would be a refreshing story to tell—Yuji Horii immediately agreed.  

RPG Site: The last entry in the Monsters series was Joker 3 (which was never released in English). What components of earlier Dragon Quest Monsters games did you want to bring forward to this latest entry, and what components are new?

Yokota: What’s important to the Dragon Quest Monsters series is that they are games in which “monsters are the central focus, the stars” and in which “players adventure while utilizing synthesis.” These two have not changed since the first installment, but the systems has differed greatly between the Game Boy era (Dragon Quest Monsters 1, Dragon Quest Monsters 2) and the Nintendo DS/3DS era (Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland 3DS, etc.). I believe you’ll get the sense that the latest installment respects and fuses these two approaches to the gameplay system.

RPG Site: Can you discuss the seasons-changing mechanic and how that affects gameplay? Can we control the seasons?

Yokota: As you explore the field, the seasons change after a certain period of time, and the game will repeatedly rotate through all four seasons, from spring, summer, fall, winter, and back to spring... As the season changes, you’ll find some changes to the monsters that appear, as well as to the terrain and accessible areas. Players will not be able to control the seasons.

RPG Site: Dragon Quest Monsters are known for their extensive post-game challenges. Can you say anything about Dark Prince's gameplay once players complete the main quest?

Yokota: Unfortunately, at this time, I cannot discuss elements players will be able to experience after completing the main scenario to avoid spoilers. However, as in past series titles, you can expect that there will be… something for players to enjoy.

RPG Site: We have to ask this one: which monster(s) is your favorite and why?

Yokota: My personal favorite is Overkilling Machine. But of course, I also like monsters of the same family, such as Killing Machine. I think monsters in the Machine family that appear in the Dragon Quest series have designs that are quite endearing, where they feel somewhat unguarded in the sense that there are several aspects that don’t seem rational or logical for killing or destroying.

RPG Site: Is there anything else you wanted to say about Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince?

Yokota: The latest game was developed and adjusted so that even newcomers to the series would be able to enjoy both the story and system. Additionally, it’ll be important for players to strengthen their monsters to progress through the game, but a distinct feature of the Dragon Quest Monsters series is that your monster roster and attributes can turn out to be completely different from other players. We hope to see you all experience the enjoyment of completing the game with your own original party!