Dragon Quest has never been as popular in North America as it is in Japan. In Japan, the release of a new Dragon Quest game is a massive, world-consuming event. It’s so big that (possibly apocryphal) stories have popped up about the government forcing publisher Square Enix to only release new games in the series on Saturdays, to avoid obsessed gamers skipping out on school and work to stand in line at a store.
While the veracity of that urban legend is debatable, the spirit of it — and recognition of the impact Dragon Quest has had on so many lives — is captured perfectly in the video above. This is a Japanese commercial for the upcoming release of Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age. It was released a few months ago, but we saw it floating around on Twitter yesterday, as the game nears release in Japan.
Don’t worry if you’re not a Dragon Quest fan; you’re still likely to get this commercial if you’ve been playing games your whole life. After a cute montage of opening screens from all the past Dragon Quest games, we see the faces of different people scrunched up, staring at the screen, playing — people across a variety of ages, genders and appearances.
We see a student daydreaming about the game at school, doodling a slime in his notebook. We see an office worker absentmindedly watching a trailer for it on his computer. We see a convenience store employee nearly falling asleep, presumably because he was up all night grinding out another few levels.
And most importantly, we see them playing. Covered up under a blanket. Ignoring dinner. Even crying at a powerful plot twist.
In one of the commercial’s best moments, a young man is leaning forward playing what appears to be Dragon Quest 8 on PlayStation 2. A woman sitting next to him is looking to plug in a hair curler and accidentally unplugs ... the television? Or is it the PlayStation itself? Has he lost his progress? No! This is a heartbreaking scenario we’ve probably all been through at one moment or another.
Whether you care about Dragon Quest or not, there’s something wonderful and moving about seeing these shared experiences. The investment on display here transcends any specific game, just like it transcends the country of Japan. Virtually everyone who plays video games has felt this stuff before, has found themselves so totally transported to another place that they’re thinking about it all through class or work the next day.
There’s something magical about that.
Dragon Quest 11 launches tomorrow, July 29, for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4 in Japan. A Switch version of the game is also planned, and Square Enix announced today that Dragon Quest 11 will make its way to North America and other Western regions in 2018.