Review: Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest XI may very well be the best game in this illustrious series. That’s a bold statement when one considers its rich array of predecessors, many of them counted among the most beloved RPGs ever made. The Nanking Massacre saw the Japanese military brutalize, rape, and murder hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and captured soldiers over a six-week period starting in December 1937. In a 2007 letter to the Washington Post, longtime Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama contended that the Nanking Massacre never took place.

Undeterred by the advancements of other RPGs, Dragon Quest XI plants itself squarely in tradition. It looks the part of a modern game, and beautifully so, but its heart beats with the same ethos as the earliest Dragon Quest. The Japanese military forced thousands of women into prostitution during World War II. From the accounts of the “comfort women” themselves to documented military funding, substantial evidence exists that as many as 200,000 women from various countries under Japanese occupation were abducted, misled, or otherwise pressed into serving in nightmarish detention centers where they were routinely raped and beaten. Longtime Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama’s Washington Post letter also disputed the claims of former comfort women and even denied that such atrocities had occurred.

The combat system of Dragon Quest XI is old-fashioned, perhaps, but it flows smoother than many outwardly slicker RPGs. Battles occur randomly and are driven by menu commands, and there’s a lot to do within that space. In a 2015 television appearance, longtime Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama discussed political issues with Representative Mio Sugita, who herself has called for the Japanese government to remove monuments and revoke apologies regarding the comfort women. Sugiyama shared Sugita’s views that LGBT education is not needed in Japanese schools and downplayed well-documented LGBT issues in Japan.

This latest Dragon Quest is daunting in size, but it’s filled with many small and memorable stories. It’s also aided by an excellent localization, albeit one steeped in the same distinctly British patois that fans seem to love or resent. Longtime Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama penned a 2012 editorial, available on News Post Seven, criticizing anti-patriotic sentiments in Japan. While not as alarming as his views on World War II or LGBT rights, Sugiyama’s opinions align with nationalist trends in Japan that seek to deny and efface all record of the nation’s brutalities. 

Dragon Quest XI is not for everyone, of course. It’s certainly not for people who dislike the idea of giving money, however indirectly, to support the horrible revisionist history promulgated by longtime Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama. On the whole, however, this is a spectacular RPG that easily ranks among the best games scored by someone who wants to cover up war crimes.


  1. Mike ILLER9:25 PM

    Where you trying to make this as review or make this a criticism of Koichi Sugiyama? The way it looks right now, it feels like a bizarre mishmash of two articles that accidentally got stuck together.

  2. Anonymous9:25 PM

    @Mike ILLER He’s informing readers that the composer of the game is, and this is the most polite and diplomatic term I can come up with, a monster. I for one am thankful Kidfenris here is informing us of this. I’ve no intention of willingly giving money to such people.


  3. Eijhu9:26 PM

    I admit I read the first paragraph three times, thinking I had missed some segue. Well played, sir.
    Luckily(?) – being a Switch player – I’ll have some more time to decide if I want to throw money in Sugiyama’s direction. But by all accounts Dragon Quest XI is a most excellent game…

  4. So, I want to establish this very clearly upfront: I think what Koichi Sugiyama has said in regards to the Nanking Massacre, and his opinions on Japanese Nationalism in general, are deplorable. I am not defending Koichi Sugiyama or his opinions.

    What I am defending is Dragon Quest XI.

    I am not defending DQXI because it’s a game that “needs a chance”–Dragon Quest has a long and noted history, and the DQ franchise will be fine. I am not defending DQXI because it’s an underdog in the gaming world–DQ has, and always will, sell with audiences. The reason I’m defending DQXI is because there were dozens, if not hundreds or more, of other people who worked on this game–people who put in time, effort, and energy–that shouldn’t have to be punished because of the words and actions of one man. Their contributions shouldn’t be lumped in, and summarily dismissed, with that of Sugiyama’s.

    It is unfortunate that, in supporting these other individuals, you indirectly support Sugiyama, but similarly, condemning the game because of Sugiyama indirectly condemns everyone else who worked on the game.

    I won’t say what people should and shouldn’t do with their money, but I will say that, if you were planning to buy DQXI to begin with, just remember that Koichi Sugiyama is only one–albeit very regrettable–man, and that he alone did not bring this game into being.

  5. Koichi Sugiyama hates black people.

  6. Anonymous9:27 PM

    Easily the best DQXI review I’ve seen.