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Video games: ‘Dragon Quest XI’ comes to Switch, and it’s pretty dang pretty

It’s one of the most colorful games available on Nintendo’s mini console

“Dragon Quest XI” is one of the prettiest, most colorful games available on the Nintendo Switch. (Courtesy photo)
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Recently so much attention in the game industry has fallen on the Nintendo Switch. The hybrid console-portable has energized fans across the world clamoring for for games they can play anywhere.

Story additions revolve around secondary characters to help flesh out their personal stories. (Courtesy photo)

It turns out the Switch has found particular popularity with the RPG crowd. With modern RPGs regularly consuming 100-hours or more of player’s time, having the flexibility to undock and play while your partner tunes into the latest episode of “The Voice” is invaluable.

That’s why I was thrilled when I heard “Dragon Quest XI” was headed to mighty mite, and over the moon when I got wind of all the exclusive “Definitive Edition” content.

Everything from last year’s initial release on PS4 and PC is present, albeit with slightly decreased graphical fidelity. Fortunately, the game’s art-style lends itself wonderfully to the Switch, making this one of the prettiest, most colorful games available on the system.

It particularly shines in handheld mode, but loses very little when transferred to the TV. A few jagged edges and a bit of pop-up aside, I highly doubt anyone will complain about how this game looks. Anyone willing to make that minor sacrifice with the graphics will find the Switch version better in literally every other way.

For whatever reason the PS4 and PC versions feature only the MIDI soundtrack, and while certainly serviceable it cannot hold a candle to the fully-orchestrated version included here. If you’d like to compare for yourself you can, as the MIDI version is included also.

Also, in addition to the excellent English voicework, players can now choose to experience the Japanese voice soundtrack, a welcome addition for JRPG purists.

Another major addition to the Switch version is the inclusion of a 2-D mode reminiscent to the 16-bit JRPGs of the SNES generation. You can choose to play the whole game in this manner, or you can switch back and forth, however, whenever you switch back it will return you to the beginning of the chapter you are on.

Players can choose to play the whole game in a 2-D mode. (Courtesy photo)

At least you get to keep all progress and items the players received in 2-D mode, but the backtracking is a little annoying.

For those who want just a taste of the 2-D gameplay without sacrificing the gorgeous 3-D graphics offered by the main game, there’s a new area where players can unlock 10 quests corresponding to the first 10 “Dragon Quest” games. While these aren’t the deepest additions, they are fun little asides that keep the gameplay fresh.

Other story additions revolve around secondary characters, to help flesh out their personal stories, and a nice swath of story content after the credits roll. All exclusive to this edition.

There are some nice quality-of-life improvements also, such as the ability to reallocate your skill points much earlier in the game, should you be displeased with how your character’s build is shaping up.

in addition to the excellent English voicework, players can now choose to experience the Japanese voice soundtrack, a welcome addition for JRPG purists. (Courtesy photo)

All taken together, the changes and additions to the Switch version of “Dragon Quest XI” are enough to make this the must-own version for anyone who has a Switch, but does that make it a game worth playing in the first place?

“Dragon Quest,” while remaining the No. 1 RPG series in Japan has struggled to gain a foothold in the U.S. Other series, like “Final Fantasy,” which trades on revising its formula in major ways with each new game, have received the lion’s share of the attention.

It’s true that “Dragon Quest” revels in certain parts of its structure — the turn-based combat, familiar enemies and a lighter, more whimsical feel overall. But this shouldn’t be misconstrued as games that don’t grow, improve and evolve.

With a rich story, wonderful graphics, fantastic voices and music, and an utterly charming optional 2-D mode, “Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition” should be considered a must-play by anyone who enjoys JRPGs.

So pick up a sword and get ready to fight some slimes in the adventure of a lifetime.


“Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition”

Publisher: Square Enix

Rated: T

Who it’s for: JRPG fans looking for a true Definitive Edition

Console: Switch

Grade: A+

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