What is Akira Toriyama’s impact in video games?

Last week, we learned (March 8, 2024) of the death of Akira Toriyama (March 1, 2024), a famous mangaka particularly known in the West for his Dragon Ball series, which conquered the hearts of young and old in the 90s and 2000s.

But to mention only Dragon Ball would be to ignore a whole part of Toriyama’s career, as he has lent his unique style to many video game projects.

We therefore offer you a small video game retrospective of the work of the late great master.

Dragon Quest

Of course, we can’t ignore the collaboration between Toriyama and the developers of Dragon Quest.

When Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii was developing his game that was supposed to introduce Japanese audiences to role-playing games, he decided to enlist the help of Akira Toriyama to create a visual style that would be memorable while appealing to a wide audience. So Toriyama drew the characters and enemies of the game, some like the famous slime becoming legendary.

Dragon Quest image 1 Shared Screen
Credit: Square Enix/Bird Studio

In fact, to call the collaboration with Toriyama a success would be an understatement. Dragon Quest became a huge hit in Japan, with Dragon Quest III becoming the first game to sell a million copies there in a single day (back in 1988!)

The franchise is also credited with spawning console RPGs, and as the inspiration for many franchises, including a small series called Final Fantasy.

Toriyama has been involved in the design of characters and monsters from all titles until the last one, Dragon Quest 11. We’ll see if the episode in development at the time of writing, Dragon Quest 12, will contain works by Toriyama, in what may well be his last original works…

Chrono Trigger

Let’s move from one legendary game to another, with Chrono Trigger, an RPG that some still call the best role-playing game of all time, almost 30 years after its release.

Released in 1995 for the Super Famicom (the Japanese Super Nintendo), this unique role-playing game tells the story of Crono who, accompanied by friends he meets along the way, must travel through time to prevent a catastrophe that could end all life.

Chrono Trigger Image 2 Shared Screen
Credit: Square Enix/Bird Studio

This success is not accidental; Chrono Trigger is the result of a collaboration between Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy, Yuji Horii, creator of Dragon Quest, and of course Akira Toriyama, artist behind Dragon Quest. Even back then, there was talk of a dream team, and rightly so.

Once again, the characters created by Toriyama have stood the test of time. Crono, even if he doesn’t say a word about the whole adventure, is brimming with personality, just like his companions who are still remembered after all these decades.


Even legends like Akira Toriyama sometimes collaborate on less successful projects, and that’s the case here with Tobal.

It’s not just Tobal No. 1 (how confident to assign a number to the first game in his franchise!) was a bad game. Being Square’s first fighting game, Tobal was surprisingly successful.

Tobal Image 3 Shared Screen
Credit: Square Enix/Bird Studio

But let’s be frank; most North American gamers, at the time, bought the title because it came with a Final Fantasy VII demo.

That’s probably why the sequels, Tobal No.2 and Tobal M, only saw the light of day in Japan.

We can still appreciate the design of Akira Toriyama, who created the pugilists of the series.

Blue Dragon

Xbox has always struggled to break through in Japan, for a host of reasons, but Microsoft was hoping to turn that around with the Xbox 360.

So they tasked Mistwalker Studios, a development studio founded by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy, with the task of creating a role-playing game that would appeal to Japanese audiences.

To achieve this, Sakaguchi enlisted the help of his Chrono Trigger partner, Akira Toriyama, who once again provided character and enemy design.

Blue dragon image 5 Shared Screen
Microsoft Game Studios / Bird Studios

Mistwalker’s mission has almost been accomplished. Blue Dragon sold very well, and the reviews were positive, especially when it came to the graphics and visual style. But Xbox still didn’t become a hit in Japan.

But hey, Toriyama and Sakaguchi did what they could!

The dozens of adaptations of his manga!

We won’t list all the times Toriyama’s works have been adapted into video games, because we’d have to make an encyclopedia.

Still, it’s worth noting that Toriyama’s flagship franchise, Dragon Ball, has more than 40 video game adaptations, the most recent being Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero, currently in development.

Dragon Ball Image 4 Split Screen
Credit: Bird Studios

But Dragon Ball isn’t the only Toriyama film to have been adapted into a video game. His humorous manga Dr. Slump has also had a handful of adaptations, the most recent being Arale Adventure (2018) on mobile.

His Go! Go! Ackman, which tells the story of a grumpy young demon who wakes up from a very long nap, also had the right to 4 games, unfortunately all of which remained in Japan.

And you, what is your favorite game of the late Akira Toriyama?