Adventurers, I may have to take back all the nice things I said about Dragon Quest XI. All of those nice things were said during the early hours of the game when it seemed like just another Dragon Quest title but with some great quality of life upgrades. That all changed when I reached a segment of the game which is so clearly taken from my favorite video game of all time, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Such a heinous crime cannot go unmentioned, so I stand before you now to expose all of the secrets of why Octagonia is too great to be legal.
Let’s start our discussion with a comparison of the general theme of the chapter. One of the first major quests in Dragon Quest XI is focused on an object called the Rainbough. This is allegedly a branch from Yggdrasil, the World Tree, which gave the Hero his powers as the Luminary and will theoretically help him to save the world. When Hero first learns about the Rainbough he sets out on a quest to get his glowing tattooed hand all over it, but there are a few interruptions. The guy who had the Rainbough sold it to a merchant, who then set off by boat to another part of Erdrea and ended up selling it to be a prize in a fighting competition called the Masked Martial Arts tournament, or MMA for short (more stolen content!). Our heroes learn that they have to compete in this fighting tournament in order to win the Rainbough as the grand prize.
In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Mario sails to the distant land of Rogueport after receiving a magical treasure map from Peach. The map is needed to find the keys to The Thousand-Year Door, with those “keys” actually being seven Crystal Stars with magical powers. In the game’s third chapter, the map leads Mario to a place called Glitzville where an arena called the Glitz Pit is the main attraction. When Mario enters the arena and sees a match, he and his partners get a glimpse of the championship belt. That belt has upon it the very Crystal Star for which Mario is searching! Thus the only way to get what he needs to continue his adventure is for Mario to win the tournament at the Glitz Pit.
Now this is already damning evidence that Dragon Quest XI has plagiarized material for their game, but we’re just getting started. Over the next few paragraphs I will systematically demonstrate how not just the general theme of the chapter but also very specific aspects of the story were all pulled from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. This article will involve spoilers for both Dragon Quest XI’s Octagonia chapter as well as chapter three of The Thousand-Year Door – because they are the same, their spoilers are one and the same, after all. But those spoilers are necessary to expose the hideous truth between the beauty of Octagonia, so I will not shy away from them. Steel yourselves, adventurers – what you are about to see may be overwhelming for those with sensitive constitutions.
EXHIBIT A: THE CHEATING CHAMPIONS
The reigning champion of the MMA tournament in Octagonia is a man named Vince, a warrior who spent his early years as an orphan. It was the orphanage in Octagonia that gave him a home when he had none, and now he fights for the orphanage and gives them the money he wins from the competition. What a sweet and charming guy, right? He’d be more sweet and charming if his gains were not ill-gotten. Vince cheats in the competition in order to ensure that he is always the victor. He does this through the use of a substance which makes him stronger, and also by kidnapping other fighters from the competition. When his dirty, cheating ways are revealed, Vince realized the mistakes he has made and rededicates himself to fighting with honor #forthekids.
In The Thousand-Year Door, Rawk Hawk is the champion of the Glitz Pit. Rawk Hawk is shown in battle early on, using his impressive legs to smash the Koopinator into a helpless lump on the floor. As Mario works his way towards the championship match, he begins to receive threatening messages from an anonymous sender. This individual goes so far as to send poisoned cake to Mario as well as bribing a security guard to lock Mario into a locker room so that he has to forfeit the championship match. It turns out the hate mail is coming from Rawk Hawk himself, who regularly cheats in order to maintain his position at the top. When Mario defeats him fair and square, Rawk Hawk swears to rededicate himself to training his muscles so that he can earn the championship back for real.
Vince and Rawk Hawk are clearly the same person. Each of them uses duplicitous methods to keep their opposition out of the ring and to keep them weak so that the champion can hold his title. They are both highly respected by their fans and revered as incredibly powerful fighters, but their true power is being dirty liars. When they are exposed for the pathetic sheets of tissue paper that they are, both of them have a change of heart which leads them to strive to become honorable champions as a way to make up for all of their cheating. Fitting that a narrative about a big old cheater would appeal to the creators of Dragon Quest, creators willing to steal the brilliant work of another developer! Just look at this next example of dastardly robbery.
EXHIBIT B: THE MISSING FIGHTERS
Speaking to some of the NPCs around Octagonia will reveal that some unusual goings-on have been…well, going on. Specifically, various fighters from past tournaments have turned out to be missing. One day they are walking the streets of Octagonia, the next they’ve vanished without a trace. Hero hears about these missing fighters and then when a particular fighter approaches him asking to help him find his partner, Hero gets the opportunity to see the truth for himself. The fighters have been kidnapped in order to feed a creature who consumes their energy and fighting spirit to increase its strength and preserve its life. Their bodies hang ominously in web sacks dangling from the ceiling of a creepy cave. Hero ultimately must defeat the monster who is stealing the energy from the fighters in order to save the city.
The Glitz Pit also has a number of missing fighters. Mario hears about the missing fighters first from Grubba (the owner of the Glitz Pit), then as a rumor from Bandy Andy (an overly-curious fighter). Things get more personal when King K, Mario’s first friend at the Glitz Pit, disappears under unusual circumstances. Mario finds the bodies of some of the missing fighters in a locked storage closet, their bodies shriveled and totally drained of vitality. After being warned not to approach the arena when it is empty, Mario discovers sinister blueprints in Grubba’s desk and Grubba reveals that he has been using the Crystal Star to steal fighting power from the competitors at the Glitz Pit. Their life force maintains Grubba’s youth and combat power, and defeating him is the only way for Mario to save the fighters who are still alive.
Both games feature missing fighters and a monstrosity stealing the life force from those fighters. Dragon Quest XI can pretend that it’s different because the villain is driven by survival rather than vanity, but we here at Adventure Rules know the truth. Both villains are using the life force of others to preserve their own lives, and the way that their evil plan is ultimately revealed to the world is through a growing number of missing competitors in their respective fighting tournaments. I think at this point it’s pretty much impossible to deny the clear and obvious theft happening here, but there is yet another example to discuss!
EXHIBIT C: ALLIES OR ENEMIES
When Hero first signs up for the MMA tournament, he is paired with a warrior woman by the name of Jade. However, after their pairing is announced a short old man makes a point of bringing away the announcer. When the announcer returns, Jade is paired with the old man while Hero gets a new partner. This man’s behavior continues to be mysterious – on the battlefield he does not fight and instead stands still while Jade topples their enemies. When Vince, the champion, has his room at the orphanage burgled, it seems like Old Man Rab is the likely culprit. He continues to be suspicious throughout most of the tournament until finally he reveals that he knows about Vince’s cheating ways as well as the horrific monster stealing life from the fighters. Rab ends up being an ally in the effort to bring an end to the sinister occurrences in the underbelly of Octagonia.
When Mario meets Grubba he also meets Grubba’s assistant, a mousy Toad by the name of Jolene. Jolene behaves hatefully towards Mario and with an almost cruel professionalism seems to interfere in his investigation of the missing fighters. She even confiscates research that Mario finds on the Crystal Stars. These suspicious behaviors seem to point to Jolene as a villain and the possible source of Mario’s hate mail, but it turns out that Jolene’s manipulation has purer motives. Jolene is using Mario to help her investigation into Grubba’s cruel methods, and she ultimately helps him to find and confront Grubba so that the Crystal Star will no longer be used for evil. While Jolene seems like she might be up to no good, in reality she helps Mario to unravel the secrets of the Glitz Pit and accomplish his mission.
Rab and Jolene have a lot of similarities. They both use the power that come from their positions in order to manipulate the circumstances of their respective competitions in order to investigate. They also manipulate the heroes of their respective games into taking actions with further their personal agendas. Each one is suspicious for much of the chapter but when the time finally comes, they reveal themselves as true allies and prove instrumental in stopping the monsters that are behind the disappearances of the missing fighters. Just like the third poison mushroom on the slot machine spells doom for Mario and his companions, the third similarity between these stories reveals the poisonous tactics used to create the tale of Octagonia – brazen theft!
Cheating champions, missing fighters, mysterious enemies who turn out to be allies – these taken together along with all of the similarities in the overarching story of these chapters show that Dragon Quest XI has pilfered the plot of “Of Glitz and Glory” in order to provide a more satisfying game experience. I for one cannot support such ruthless plundering, especially when it comes from my favorite video game! Justice must be done, and it has been. Thanks to my brave and heroic efforts to write this article, now everyone will know the truth about Octagonia and the Glitz Pit. You’re welcome, adventurers.
For those who may not have realized by this point, this entire article is intended to be humorous. Square Enix, the developers of Dragon Quest XI, did not in fact steal any plot points from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. This is simply a remarkable series of coincidences that gave me the idea for a fun article comparing all of the similarities between the stories. I continue to love Dragon Quest XI and would encourage any others who haven’t given it a try yet to do the same. And if you somehow have access to a GameCube and have not played The Thousand-Year Door yet, go ahead and add that to your list too!