Promotional artwork for the Dragon Quest Erdick Trilogy
(Square Enix)

Dragon Quest’s Deeply Beloved Erdrick Trilogy Is Returning in a Big Way

There are some media properties that, no matter how popular they are in North America and Europe, are simply a way bigger deal in Japan. One Piece is a prime example of this. In the world of video games, the best example is unquestionably Dragon Quest.

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The difference in Dragon Quest‘s cultural presence across the Pacific Ocean is roughly the size of the metaphorical gulf between a $100 steak and a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Dragon Quest‘s unbelievable popularity in Japan became very, very apparent upon the 1988 release of Dragon Quest III, whose HD-2D remake is coming out later this year. In 1988 Japan, thousands of kids took off school and formed thick lines several blocks long to get their copy of Dragon Quest III on release day. So many kids took off school that Square Enix decided to release Dragon Quest games on weekends forevermore.

Incredibly, Dragon Quest‘s popularity has barely waned in the intervening 36 years. Shortly after the Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remake went up on presale, it took four of the top six spots of Amazon Japan. What’s more, during the June 2024 Nintendo Direct, developer Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II are also getting HD-2D remakes, coming out next year.

This Dragon Quest remake news may have barely been a story in North America and Europe, especially considering how stacked that Direct was. But in Japan, this was a huge headline of the Direct. So let’s explore the history of the first three Dragon Quest games, which together are known as the Erdick Trilogy.

What’s the Erdick Trilogy, and what’s with the release order?

The first Dragon Quest is arguably the first JRPG ever made. Dragon Quest III is one of the most beloved JRPGs of all time. In Japan, it set sales record after sales record upon its original 1988 release. So the importance of this collection of games is obvious.

There are currently 11 mainline entries in the Dragon Quest series. The first three games—which came out in 1986, 1987, and 1988 in Japan—are collectively known as the Erdick Trilogy. The name isn’t just an allusion to an era of gaming; the stories of the three games are connected. They all take place (at least partially) in the kingdom of Alefgard. Dragon Quest III‘s hero becomes the titular Erdick, Dragon Quest I‘s hero is a descendent of Erdick, and Dragon Quest II simply takes place 100 years after Dragon Quest I.

As that lineage might suggest, Dragon Quest III actually comes first in the chronology of the story. That’s why the modern Square Enix decided to release the HD-2D remasters with III coming out first, followed by I and then II. That decision also gave Square Enix the element of surprise. Given its legacy, only crafting a remake of Dragon Quest III would make perfect sense. When, during the June 2024 Nintendo Direct, they revealed I and II were also on the way, it was a genuine shock.

What’s HD-2D, and when can I play these games already?

An HD-2D remake of Dragon Quest III was announced back in 2021. Recently, Square Enix has been going ahead on HD-2D games, which replicate the classic pixelated style of the NES era with gorgeous, highly detailed backgrounds. It gives the games a feeling of dimensionality while staying true to retro art styles and gameplay. Square Enix invented this style, and they’ve used it plenty of times before in the Live A Live remake, the Octopath Traveler series, and Triangle Strategy.

The first three Dragon Quest games are perfect candidates for the HD-2D treatment. While Dragon Quest III in particular has been ported several times over—including to the Wii and to iOS/Android—this is the first time any of these classic games have gotten a remake. To say they’re highly anticipated releases would be shortselling the hype.

Fortunately, it won’t be long until we get to see the results of these classic games’ modernized treatment for ourselves. Dragon Quest III‘s remake comes out on November 14, 2024. Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II will follow right behind, with both slated for release in 2025.

What’s more, the remakes have been confirmed for release on virtually all platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Steam, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S.

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Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.