When Dragon Quest XI hit Japanese store shelves in 2017, it was released on the PS4 and 3DS. The 3DS version is fascinating because it's a totally different game in terms of presentation; Nintendo's handheld obviously couldn't compete with the PS4 in terms of processing power, so it got a unique version of the adventure. What's even more amazing is that initially at least, the 3DS version out-sold the PS4 edition.
The 3DS has been home to some rather ambitious ports, of course, such as the surprisingly effective Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, and the slightly less-than-impressive Hyrule Warriors Legends. Naturally, some concessions were made in the graphics department to get Dragon Quest XI running on the 3DS' dual-core ARM11 processor, but a good chunk of the start of the game goes the extra mile by replicating everything that happens in the expected 3D in tandem with a 2D version on the bottom screen. If that sounds similar to the 2D gubbins included in Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition, that isn't all that surprising – because all of that good 2D stuff originated on the 3DS!
What makes all of this even more remarkable is that Nintendo's next portable console – the Switch – has been able to handle a pretty faithful port of the PS4 iteration, which, when you compare the 3DS and PS4 versions, just goes to show how small the gap is between domestic and portable gaming technology these days.
Sadly, Dragon Quest XI has remained a Japanese exclusive – which is why we thought it would be nice to revisit the game so that more people can see what an amazing achievement it was – and to highlight the fact that Dragon Quest XI is a game that spans hardware generations in a way few other JRPGs can manage.