Yūji Horii (堀井 雄二 Horii Yūji) (also written as Yuuji Horii) (born January 6, 1954, in Awaji Island, Japan) is a Japanese video game designer and scenario writer best known as the creator of the seminal Dragon Quest series, which set the template for subsequent console role-playing games, as well as the seminal Yuji Horii Mysteries trilogy of adventure games (including Portopia Serial Murder Case), which set the template for the visual novel genre and inspired Hideo Kojima to become a game designer.
Horii graduated from Waseda University's Department of Literature, with a degree in literature. He also worked as a freelance writer for newspapers, comics, and magazines, including a video games columnin Weekly Shōnen Jump. He then entered in an Enix-sponsored game programming contest, where he placed with Love Match Tennis, a tennis video game, motivating him to become a video game designer. Horii then created Portopia Serial Murder Case, an adventure game which set the template for the visual novel genre and later also inspired Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear fame) to enter the video game industry. It is the first part of the Yuji Horii Mysteries trilogy, along with its successors Okhotsk ni Kiyu: Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin Jiken (1984) and Karuizawa Yūkai Annai (1985).
After creating several more visual novel adventure games, Horii went on to create Dragon Quest, which is said to have created the blueprint for console role-playing games. He was motivated to create Dragon Quest for ordinary gamers, who found role-playing games difficult, and thus he worked on an intuitive control system, influenced by his work on Portopia. He also added a greater emphasis on storytelling, building on his work on the Yuji Horii Mysteries trilogy and due to his earlier background in literature.
His works also include the Itadaki Street series. Horii was also a supervisor of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game, Chrono Trigger; it had multiple endings, with Horii appearing in one of the endings with the game development staff, along with Hironobu Sakaguchi and other staff members.
Horii currently heads his own production company, Armor Project, a company that has an exclusive production contract with Square Enix, a contract established with Enix before the company merged with Square. He is currently working on the MMORPG title Dragon Quest X: Mezameshi Itsutsu no Shuzoku Online for the Wii and Wii U. He is also on the selection committee for the annual Super Dash Novel Rookie of the Year Award.