This, with any luck, will be the year of Dragon Quest in the west. Details on Dragon Quest 11's localisation are still nowhere to be seen - it's due at some point in 2018, the last we heard - and when that occasion finally comes it'll mark the series' first all-new mainline release over here since 2009's exceptional Dragon Quest 9. Before all that, though, there's the chance to get reacquainted with Dragon Quest Builders, one of the series' many spin-offs, when it comes to the Switch later this week, and having spent a couple of dozen hours in this new version's company the past few weeks I strongly recommend that you do.
If Minecraft's greatest trick is the way in which it leaves players to do as they please within its verdant, destructible playpen, then it's one hasn't travelled the world with equal success. "In Japan, people like to be told how to play their games," explains Noriyoshi Fujimoto, one of the creators of Dragon Quest Builders, a game that attempts to splice §Minecraft's giddying freedom with the kind of quest-based adventuring for which Japan's beloved RPG series is known. For Fujimoto, Minecraft's guidance-free approach, which leaves players free to build a tower to the stars, dig a tunnel to the Earth's core, or chase sheep all day, goes some way to explain why its gargantuan and enduring success hasn't been replicated in Japan. "Minecraft is just finally starting to become popular with primary schoolchildren here," he says, sitting in a stretched sofa at Square Enix's Tokyo office, a plushie Slime (Dragon Quest's googly-eyed merengue blob mascot) perched on his lap. "But it's clear that it just isn't going to have the same breakout appeal that it's enjoyed overseas."