18. Dragon Quest

Dragon Warrior NES Front Cover

Developer: Chunsoft
Publisher: Enix
Year: 1989
Platform: NES, Gameboy Color, SNES (Japanese only)

The first RPG I was ever exposed to, and also one of the first America was exposed to.  Considering it took three years for this classic to make it over from Japan, it’s obvious it took this side of the Pacific longer to warm up to gaming that didn’t involve hand-eye coordination.  While the game is slow and painful at times by today’s standards, it has so much damn charm that the game can still worth playing today, especially the updated ports (packaged with Dragon Quest II) that fix several of the game’s issues, detailed below.

Dragon Quest is the only RPG I’ve played where you have no team members and only face one enemy at a time.  Sometimes, exploring the countryside and caves is frustrating, with little clue as to where you’re supposed to go next.  Finding some items seems almost random.  And some of the items you can buy that are expensive are fairly worthless.  On the NES release, there is only one save point in the game (the original town), so each time you turn on the game (or die), you must start from there.  Granted, the map isn’t that large, but it still is a bit annoying.  The game’s worst sin is that if you’re standing on stairs, you must use the STAIRS command to use them.  This was also fixed in the updates.

Dragon Warrior NES Talking to a townsfolk

I think if I was six years younger I would have overlooked this game entirely.  But it instilled in me a love of RPGs that has faded some over the years but still invokes great memories for me.  I love fighting the knight and getting Erdrick’s Armor.  I love the thrill of defeating a metal slime before it can run away.  I love defeating the green dragon to save the princess.  I love the final trek in the Dragonlord’s castle.  And I love slimes.

Dragon Warrior I & II Game Boy Color Dragon Warrior I combat on GBC

3 thoughts on “18. Dragon Quest”

  1. This game is a grind-fest, and I’m sorry to admit, but I once maxed out a character. Level 30 with 65535 XP and GP! While I have to give the game props for being a decent NES RPG at the time, I should point out that this was not even close to the first RPG, as RPGs on computers had been in non-stop production since the mid-1970s.

    1. I meant console wise. I’m aware of computer RPGs like Ultima.

      I also maxed out once in the game. Spent an entire night feasting on metal slimes.

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