Monster Jam

When I discuss mythological beings, I usually like to mention when they appear in video games, with the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series being two of the main candidates. Then again, some of the video game monsters are true originals. While a lot of the monsters in the DQ games show up in other series as well, part of what distinguishes them is the humor in Akira Toriyama’s designs. From the very first game in the series, you found yourself facing smiling Slimes, upright blue wolves, baby dragons, and ghosts wearing hats.

Some of them were so cute that they probably tricked a lot of adventurers into thinking they were harmless, at least up until they started attacking. On the other hand, you can tell that the huge armored knights and skeletons with swords mean business. Many of the monsters in these games appeared in later ones as well, and their attack patterns and weaknesses tended to be similar. Here are a few of the stranger monsters that made their debuts in the first DQ trilogy:

Gold Golems – Called Goldmen in the original English translation, they’re just what the name says, golems made out of gold bars. There are a few different varieties of golem in the game, but I have to wonder why anyone would bother with this sort, as you’d think any magician with a bunch of gold would rather keep it than animate it. Maybe it’s so they don’t have to carry the gold around with them. As you might expect, they give you a fair amount of gold when you defeat them, although it really isn’t all that much in the game as I first played it. The Game Boy Advance version and later games increased the amount of money. I guess the gold melts down into coins when the monster dies, or something like that. Hey, it makes more sense than a Slime carrying gold coins. Where would it keep them? This sort of creature reappears in the first two DQ Monsters games and in the seventh, eighth, and ninth games in the main series. Others have golden enemies that aren’t human-shaped, like the Gold Bashers in DQ3.

Druins – If you think from the name that these are Celctic priests, you’re way off. Since fantasy has pretty much determined that there isn’t anything much scarier than eyeballs and tentacles, these are basically giant eyes with antennae and tentacles. The name “Druin” is only used in the original Dragon Warrior, with other versions and games referring to them as Lunaticks (does that mean they’re insects?) and Eyeders.

Drolls – Okay, what in Nadiria ARE these? They’re sort of slug-like, but apparently don’t have long bodies. I guess we don’t know for sure, though, as they’ve only been pictured from the front. They have eye stalks and weird facial features, and I don’t think there’s any way to tell whether they actually are droll. I recall coming across an unauthorized guide that claimed Drolls were alien to Alefgard, which would make a certain amount of sense, as they don’t look much like anything else there. They only appear in the first game and the first two DQ Monsters games, the latter of which place them in the Bug family. Since snails are also in this family, I wouldn’t put too much stock in that classification.

Goopis – I wasn’t quite sure what these things were supposed to be, but newer translations refer to them as Muddy Hands, which fits. Their main tactic is calling for reinforcements by beckoning. Other monsters have this ability as well, and in DQ4 Torneko will occasionally summon wandering merchants at random. The tougher version of the Goopi is the Graboopi or Bloody Hand.

Gremlins – Although the term was originally coined for a little monster that would wreck machinery, DQ2 made them into flying purple creatures with their tongues sticking out. They were some of the first monsters you could fight in towns, although they were plot-specific monsters instead of random ones.

The tougher version is called an Ozwarg, and I have to wonder where that name comes from.

Maybe from the Aswang, a ghoul from Philippine folklore that steals bodies and replaces them with wooden likenesses.

I don’t see any particular connection, but some do take winged form. Gremlins appear in the first two DQ Monsters games, but haven’t been heard from since then.

Demons – There are many different sorts of demons in the series, including a lot of the bosses. Many of them are based on traditional devils, complete with such accessories as bat wings, pitchforks, and barbed tails. DQ3 introduces the Minidemons and Demonites (also known as Imps), somewhat silly-looking little devils with their tongues sticking out, much like ghosts and gremlins.

They’re much more powerful than their appearance would let on. Even before these small demons came the Archdemon, also called a Bullwong, one of the worst monsters in DQ2.

They could attack twice, breathe fire, and cast the most powerful attack spell in the game.

The boss monster Belial, originally called Zarlox, is a more powerful Archdemon, which is saying a lot.

Robots – Since the Final Fantasy games often take place in a modern or steampunk world, or a more medieval-type one with remnants of a lost civilization with highly advanced technology, it’s not too surprising robotic enemies would make appearances. In the DQ games, though, they seem rather more anachronistic. To be fair, they’re somewhat primitive robots, armed with swords and crossbows and walking on four legs to maintain their balance. One sort of mechanical enemy, the Mech Hunter, has been known to seek out metal monsters. The more powerful Killing Machines can attack twice per turn, and often inhabit cold climates. DQ7 has a subplot about a guy named Zebbot who built clockwork soldiers.

Some of the later games in the series also have mechanical birds.

Mimics – Don’t you hate it when you open a treasure chest and it turns out to be a monster, especially considering that they’re almost always much more powerful than other monsters in the same dungeon? Some games handle this by having someone hide out inside the chest (how they fit remains a mystery), but DQ has monsters that actually pose as chests. Man-Eater Chests Canniboxes have really powerful attacks, while Mimics cast instant death spells. Later games include other monsters that disguise themselves as places where you’d usually find treasure, including Evil Pots (AKA Urnexpecteds) and Well Demons.

I don’t know of any door monsters, but there were more than enough of those in the Sealed Cave in Final Fantasy IV.

Bags o’ Laughs – As silly as they look (yes, they’re yet another sort of monster with sticking-out tongues), they’re really not all that funny for anyone who comes across them, although they’re probably having a blast themselves. Basically animated bags with faces, they play tricks on your party by casting spells to confuse people or put them to sleep, as well as stealing magic and calling for backup.

The Goodybag or Jewel Bag is a similar monster that can disguise itself as a bag, sort of like a Mimic. Their jewels give them special abilities, and they can perform dances to disable enemies. Contrary to how they look, they don’t really give you a lot of money for defeating them. According to the DQ9 description, they were originally created by a sage as a birthday gift for a desert king. Nice going, sage!

If I didn’t include your favorite, that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t show up in a later post. Suggestions are welcome!

This entry was posted in Dragon Quest, Focus on the Foes, Monsters, Mythology, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s