Akira Toriyama’s JRPG Legacy, From Dragon Quest to Chrono Trigger

Akira Toriyama is one of the most popular and successful mangaka of all time, known mainly for his iconic Dragon Ball franchise. Ever since it debuted back in the 1980s, it put both Toriyama and anime and manga in general on the map globally. Dragon Ball continues to be a popular and influential series, but it's not the only place where its creator has made his mark.

Beyond anime and manga, Akira Toriyama has been an integral part of Japanese role-playing games, especially Square-Enix's landmark franchise Dragon Quest. These franchises have been defined by Toriyama's signature art style, even to this day. Here's the history of Akira Toriyama and his indelible mark on Japanese video games.

Dragon Quest

Even before Dragon Ball became a hit in the West, Toriyama's art was already associated with the now long-running Dragon Quest franchise all the way back when it was first released, on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Initially referred to as Dragon Warrior in non-Eastern territories, the series prominently features Toriyama's recognizable and quirky art style, which no doubt helps reel in fans of his other work. For fans of Dragon Ball, the resemblance to that series' characters is uncanny, especially with the main character of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker looking a lot like Vegeta.

Since the beginning, Toriyama has done the art and designs for the series, giving Dragon Quest a familiar feel even for those who have never played it. In fact, given Dragon Quest's initial release back in 1986, Toriyama has been working on it for almost as long and as consistently as Dragon Ball. Toriyama would later lend his talents to the Blue Dragon franchise starting in 2006, with one of the titular Shadow Dragons somewhat resembling Porunga, the dragon of Namek. These games have all made Toriyama as synonymous with classic, old-school RPGs as he is with the world of manga and anime.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger SSBU

Besides these huge franchises, Toriyama also worked on comparatively smaller JRPGs and games that would go on to form franchises without his involvement. The most notable of these is the fellow Square-Enix title and Super NES classic Chrono Trigger. Toriyama designed the game's aesthetics and looks for each of its eras in time, with the rest of the title's design team studying his style to stay close to it. He also had a hand in helping to craft the story itself with his experience as a writer.

Other RPG works of his include Famicom Jump II: Saikyo no Shichinin, where he supplied artwork. This action-RPG was a crossover between multiple Shonen Jump franchises, including Dragon Ball, of course. This work on Dragon Ball and RPGs would collide more recently with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, which retold key events from that series' storyline. So far, this has been the extent of Toriyama's RPG works, though it's certainly an enviable resume. Given his impact on Dragon Quest especially, it's arguable that Akira Toriyama is the king of both shonen anime/manga and Japanese role-playing games.

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