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Dragon Quest

Composed by Koichi Sugiyama

Kazurou Morita, founder of game developer Random House through Enix, made a game called Morita Kazurou no Shogi. It was considered one of the best authentic shogi experiences released on the PC. The game was good enough to attract the attention of Koichi Sugiyama, who at the time was known for his scores for the 1979 Cyborg 009 anime, the entire Space Runaway Ideon franchise, and the anime film The Sea Prince and the Fire Child. Sugiyama sent Enix a response to a questionare, and the staff at Enix were stunned that such a prestigious composer would even acknowledge them. They were so impressed with his strong but well written criticism of the game, they invited him to compose for them, and he accepted. Sugiyama would compose the games World Golf and Wingman 2 before composing the score that would define his career more than any of his previous scores, Dragon Quest.

It wasn't immediately known at the time, but Dragon Quest would end up becoming a monumental inspiration to the entertainment culture of Japan, the video game industry, and of course, the direction composers took or would take for their video games. Live performances of the Dragon Quest score were released on CDs featuring sheet music books, which were common bonuses for anime soundtracks released in Japan. And the Dragon Quest score was even performed in Japan's concert halls since 1987 through Sugiyama's Family Classic Concert series, with the 1987 edition being the first live orchestrated performance of any video game score. The Family Classic Concerts would become precursors to Sugiyama's Orchestral Game Music Concerts series, presenting the opportunity for game composers like Yoko Kanno, Koji Kondo, Nobuo Uematsu, Kohei Tanaka, Keiichi Suzuki, and so many others to perform their game scores live with an orchestra. The Dragon Quest score even inspired the first ballet based on a video game, performed by the Star Dancers Ballet in 1995. And in 2012, for Google's April Fools gag, their Google Maps app was reformatted into an 8-bit overworld map while the overworld theme from Dragon Quest played in the background.

The outline of the Dragon Quest score would also inspire how role playing games were scored. Recurring themes, like the overture that would play in the beginning of every Dragon Quest, which Sugiyama claims took only five minutes to score. Location themes, overworld themes, battle themes, and character themes were all musical tropes that helped enhance the Dragon Quest experience in a way that no story driven game had attempted before. And it was all achieved through Koichi Sugiyama's decision to express his opinion on a game that Enix helped produce. 

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