Party Chat is a feature of the series first introduced in the seventh title. It allows the player to speak with members of the party to get their opinions and insight on current circumstances at the press of a button after a cutscene or speaking with an NPC. This allows for the personalities of playable characters to be greatly fleshed out at the player's own pace without the risk of lengthy dialogue scenes bogging down the flow of the game. Quirks, idiosyncrasies, and the hidden sides of characters are revealed smoothly through party chat.
Since the original implementation in 2000, the feature has been incorporated into remakes of past games (save for II & III) and all successive titles, receiving near universal praise for adding significant depth to older entries. Through reaffirming the excellent quality of writing Dragon Quest is known for and presenting it through an innovative method at the player's leisure, party chat has become a highly esteemed and indispensable part of the series.
During the lengthy development cycle of VII Yuji Horii began playing the pc game Diablo in 1998. Horii became impressed with the multi-player features of the action rpg, and enjoyed being able to communicate with his friends through only the game itself to work towards their shared goals. Furthermore, he was impressed that NPCs were given multiple lines of dialogue through the gossip feature.
Taking these inspirations and considering the tremendous storage capacity of the original Playstation discs over the SNES's cartridges, it was decided to implement a similar system into the then-upcoming title to benefit the series during the first boom of multi-player rpgs in the late 90's.
IV was the first remake to receive party chat, and is slightly different from subsequent versions. Namely, the Hero does not need to be alive or present in the party for a conversation to begin. This can occasionally lead to small goofs when a character references them, but does allow for the feature to be used in dungeons where the Wagon is not allowed and the protagonist was left outside. Party chat can be used in all chapters.
Interestingly, Meena's obsession with caves, crypts, and underground structures was first established in the PSX remake's party chat--in no prior media did she ever display an interest in such things.
V would return to the standards set in VII, in that the Hero must be present for conversations to begin. Human characters benefit from lengthy party chart, but monsters have only two lines of dialogue--one for the overworld and one for indoors. This has lead to some mild criticism over the years, but does allow for players to project personalities onto their beastly buddies as they see fit.
Humorously, V would begin the trend of party chat completely changing the fan perception of certain characters, namely Tuppence. Assumed to be a serious, stoic soldier of Gotha through his few lines in the original SNES version, he reveals himself to be emotional, lustful, and comically over-ambitious in the remakes.
The sixth game in the series benefited immensely from the feature, gaining the most party chat since the original version of VII. Every line of dialogue spoken by an NPC, even the barking of dogs, will elicit a unique response from at least one character. Carver and Milly's original assumption of the former being gruff and the latter wistful were changed with the muscle man being mellow and the mysterious waif having a well-defined sense of humor and knack for jokes, but the most profound change in fan perception belongs to Lizzie. Originally though of as a dumb monster following a certain blue swordsman out of a sense of honor, she was revealed to be a sensitive, girly being with a absurd crush and a child-like way of viewing the world.
Due to the three dialogue-storing spells being deleted for the DS version, party chat was written so as to guide players in the right direction to advance the game without revealing too much.
The first game to feature party chat set a profound precedent for the series, allowing players to spend hours reading reaction dialogue and contributing significantly to the game's infamous reputation for being lengthy.
During the development process it was decided that characters should be as distinct as possible to create interesting lines--Maribel Mayde was not originally part of the game but written in specifically for this purpose. This is also reflected in the other characters' origins, being a wolf turned human, a crusader, and traveling dancer turned rebellious swords-woman, with none of them being "average" enough to respond with boring and plain dialogue.
In the original PSX version players could speak to party members in the midst of battle, with dialogue even reflecting specific circumstances such as Ruff being hit with kasnooze or Maribel being utterly disgusted by the presence of an Ulcer. Enemies would get the drop on the party if they spent too much time chewing the fat, with a 67% chance to pounce after being used twice and a 100% chance on the third turn. This feature was removed in the 3DS remake.
The first truly three dimensional game slightly alters the party chat formula, having a separate menu pop up to allow players to speak with specific characters when they desire. The Battle Records screen will also elicit quips from king Trode, bestowing titles and comments based on the player's performance. If the player never once speaks to their companions, the cursed king will mumble about the group being dysfunctional.
The return to player-made characters by way of Patty prevents standard party chat form being used, but Stella is more than happy to speak her mind on the battle records screen whether players want her to or not. She will not react to every spoken line of dialogue as past companions have, but she does have something to say about all story events.
Due to the tenth game's nature as an MMORPG, party chat cannot function as normal.
XI has two version of party chat--one with a separate menu similar to VIII for the HD edition, and one similar to 4~7 for the 3DS release.