Akira Toriyama’s Passing Is Motivating Me To Finally Play His Games

Akira Toriyama’s Passing Is Motivating Me To Finally Play His Games

Folks, Akira Toriyama’s passing has completely shaken me in a way I didn’t think possible. It’s always sad when someone responsible for a thing you love passes away, but what’s getting to me today is how much it feels like I took him and his work for granted. I didn’t recognize he was a hero of mine until it was too late. And though I’m sure our paths never would’ve crossed, the fact that I’m in a position where they could’ve—and now know they never will—is going to sting for a long time to come. I’ll always have Dragon Ball though, a series that has profoundly shaped me and people all over the world, and that’s no small comfort. And thanks to Toriyama’s relentlessness, I have so much more to remember him by. I just have to do a little digging, is all.

You see, despite my familiarity with Toriyama’s work in anime and manga, his prolific work in games has mostly managed to evade me. To know and love Toriyama’s games is to have played legendary titles like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series, two major works that went on to redefine the RPG genre in their own ways. Save for a few hours I logged in Chrono Trigger last year, a measly dip into two separate Dragon Quest games over the last decade, and a brief fling I had with Dragon Ball FighterZ, I’m a stranger to Toriyama’s gaming oeuvre.

For example, even though I’m the only person I know that watched the Blue Dragon anime, I never played the game that inspired it, which featured not only Toriyama’s iconic character design work but also the writing of Final Fantasy’s creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Blue Dragon made for a reunion between the two, who had previously worked together when making Chrono Trigger, and they’d go on to work together again on a few more Blue Dragon titles, as well as Sakaguchi’s latest game, Fantasian. Toriyama didn’t just make legends, like the iconic blue slime from Dragon Quest, but regularly intersected with real-life ones, too. His imprint is quite possibly everywhere you could fathom to look in games.

That fact makes it all the more impressive that I’ve been able to expertly dodge the games that Toriyama’s explicitly tied to. After all, it’s not like he worked on tiny projects that came and went without much fanfare. Much like his manga work, Toriyama’s games moved mountains. He molded the minds and sensibilities of a generation. Hell, I love the Like a Dragon series, whose recent shift to turn-based RPG combat is rooted in one of the protagonists’ love of Dragon Quest. Due to his love for the game of his youth (and maybe a little derangement), new series protagonist Kasuga sees himself as a hero and his opponents as monsters to be slain in battle for XP (and to save the world). In Kasuga you see what it is to be molded by a formative work, and it comes as no surprise how many of Kasuga’s greatest traits can be traced back to the tenets of some of my favorite Toriyama characters. It’s altogether likely that Kasuga, a character who’s grown near and dear to myself and many others, might not exist if not for Toriyama and his massive influence over gaming.

With this immense impact in mind, I want to finally right my egregious wrongs and experience the rest of Toriyama’s seminal works. When I head home today, I’m going to boot up my abandoned file in Chrono Trigger and devour it whole over the next week or so. I’ve never finished a Dragon Quest game, and have no idea where to really begin with the series, but I’ll figure it out and get to it soon afterwards. I’ll definitely be there to play Dragon Quest XII, which seems likely to be one of Toriyama’s final projects, and I will sob like I did this morning when I see his art come to life one last time. If someone wants to run a set on Dragon Ball FighterZ, I’ll happily reinstall the game for the first time in years just to see Android 21, an original character Toriyama designed for the game. If there’s a way to play Blue Dragon, I’m going to find it and go for it. And if I have to pay for Apple Arcade in order to play Fantasian (please, port it to Steam already), I’ll fucking do it. I think I’d do anything at this point to keep the man’s work near and dear for the rest of my days.

I may have taken Toriyama-san for granted while he was with us, but I’m not about to make the same mistake again in his passing. I’m ready to fall in love with his work all over again, and see him in the light so many of my friends and peers have been lucky to.

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