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Dragon Warrior

ドラゴンクエスト

Developer: Chunsoft Publisher: Enix
27 May 1986
Dragon Warrior [ドラゴンクエスト] - cover art
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2.88 / 5.0
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265 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#2,760 All-time
#14 for 1986
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1986 Chunsoft Enix  
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JP 4 988601 001687 EFC-DQ
1986 Chunsoft Enix  
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JP 4 988601 001861
1989 Chunsoft Nintendo  
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CA 0 74299 06349 7 NES-DQ-CAN
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1989 Chunsoft Nintendo  
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US 0 45496 63037 9 NES-DQ-USA
2014 Chunsoft Square Enix  
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Title
I think the younger generation might not understand this game very well as it's now very dated, but it's pretty much the game that birthed the "J" RPG style. The genre has evolved so much since, but Dragon Warrior laid down the basics of turn based battles, dungeon and town exploring with items/equipment to collect. Controlling just one hero is quite rare in this genre anymore, but it had to start somewhere. I think it might be unexciting to go into it and grind out the battles (as you do need to grind a lot to make progress), but it introduced so many concepts and its influence is just so massive. Plus you have all these key elements that would repeat in the series afterwards. Rating might be inflated cause of Nostalgia, but in 1989/1990 I probably would have rated it even higher as I really liked this type of game. But the game that really hooked me and made me an RPG head was Final Fantasy [ファイナルファンタジー], which kinda of outclasses it in many aspects. Regardless monumental 80s game!
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diction 2016-03-29T23:51:19Z
2016-03-29T23:51:19Z
3.5
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The NES is a console that I've time and time again kinda dismissed as a platform full of archaic design and games that have aged terribly all over the place, and yet, I keep finding myself returning to the system regardless, and it's for stuff like Dragon Warrior that I do this for. I honestly went into this expecting the worst, a cryptic grindfest full of unfocused ideas with too much ambition to properly fit on such primitive hardware, and while the game definitely was a lot of this to some extent, what I got was something pleasantly surprising. Now I won't say this has necessarily aged gracefully by any stretch of the imagination, it was the starting point for JRPGS as a whole after all, so it was all a bit of a learning process, but at the same time, this is such a well realised artistic vision that I can't help but be impressed at the same time with how much I actually enjoyed this and what a strong starting point this style of game had.

I think a huge reason for this is that the game manages to feel both ambitious yet also extremely restrained in what it has going on. There are very few items, certain things feel very streamlined, such as buying equipment instantly having the strongest option equipped and selling the piece it replaced, and having a small selection of spells that are fairly obvious to understand what they do. There feels like there's a fair amount to the game in terms of its scope, but at the same time, almost every aspect of it feels intentionally simplified in such a way to be as digestible as possible, which is appreciated for a lot of reasons. The biggest one to me is that due to this intention to make a game that can be easily understood for the most part, there's way less cryptic nonsense than one would think to the point where a guide is barely necessary, with ample hints and avenues to figuring out how to obtain what you need to beat the game, at least once you start to understand the way the game generally operates and works. Despite this simplicity however, in terms of atmosphere and general vibes, this honestly works really well at creating the sense of adventure set in an inhospitable land.

I respect how the game just starts off, gives you a very quick and basic rundown of your goal "rescue the princess and defeat the dragonlord" and then sets you out on a journey without much direction, having the player just explore the land and figure a lot of things out for themselves. While this easily could have led to a game that you'd be required to take a walkthrough with you every step of the way, Dragon Warrior leads the player pretty nicely for the most part through a combination of vague hints and directions and through expecting the player to thoroughly look into everywhere they can go and figure when it's time to go back into uncharted territory. The game doesn't hold your hand but doesn't make you feel hopelessly lost either, you can go anywhere from the start, the only thing stopping you is the fact that enemies are of varying strengths, so if you get destroyed, chances are you just need to look somewhere else for a bit and come back stronger. The idea of having crossing bridges on the overworld being the indicator for a jump in difficulty is pretty clever as well, both signalling the player of some key information while also not feeling totally out of place.

Despite the limited overworld sprites, there also felt like there was a lot of effort put into making the world feel alive, with each town having its own important parts to them while also feeling aesthetically different from one another. To further add to this is the way the NPCs are cleverly a mix of useless but often funny dialogue to make the towns feel lived in, while also often giving vital pieces of information that are just clear enough for it to feel more like a puzzle to figure out what the game wants from you, rather than another signal to look something up online. One of my favourite examples of this is the way that the final boss takes 1 damage from anything other than the ultimate sword, so to telegraph this in game, you've got one NPC who says "The Dragonlord's scales are as strong as steel" and then another one later who says that this ultimate sword can easily cut through steel. It's stuff like this that I find clever in that it's conveyed in a slightly higher order way than simply telling the player exactly what to do, while also not keeping it entirely hidden and borderline impossible to figure out on your own, and this sort of storytelling and instruction is used throughout the game as well, often requiring you to put a few bits of information together to get the full picture.

I also feel like the artwork in general goes a long way in making this feel appealing, thanks to Akira Toriyama's monster designs being super appealing to look at and giving some very clear and cohesive visual direction to the game that makes you a bit excited every time you're able to see yet another fun enemy. The issues of limited inventory size also feels somewhat mitigated thanks to the way there are barely any actual items, so there'll basically never be a point where you'll have too many and feel like you need to pointlessly micromanage, but also, the way that spells work in this further contributing to needing very few consumables. When the spells you get from levelling up don't directly contribute to dealing a lot of damage or some other vital combat utility, these often will have the same effect as one of the consumables in the game. This essentially means that after certain level ups, you no longer require dedicating a slot to said item, making things a constant process of streamlining your own inventory in a pretty seamless and satisfying way. I also think it's a nice touch how from the very start of the game you get a clear sight of the final destination and ultimate goal of the game, with everything being dedicated to working your way towards it, providing both a sense of cohesion and a strong driving force towards your goal, it being in sight but always out of reach. This is made all the more powerful by the way that they really make you feel like the world's against you, not only having monsters after your throat at all times basically, but even having the townsfolk express little faith in you, saying that they believe that the Dragonlord is far too powerful and other statements in the same vein.

While I've had a lot of positive things to say about this, Dragon Warrior is also far from a perfect game either, in fact, in some ways it's borderline painful to play. A lot of these issues come down to enemies as well, as despite how awesome they look, there's also a lot of frustration associated with them. The one that is most irritating is the way that while these spike in difficulty might result in a world that somewhat immerses you in the fact that it feels overrun by evil, it also means grinding, and quite a bit of it. I'd hazard a guess that most of the time spent playing this game was dedicated to grinding, and while this at first wasn't anything too bad, there being a certain relaxing quality to hacking away at things for a bit while playing some music in the background, it definitely hits a point where things begin feeling very tedious. This is exacerbated by a terrible EXP curve that sees the player hitting a point near the end of the game where they'll be needing around 3000 EXP per level where the average enemy at that point yields around 50, which I'm sure is pretty easy to see, it's kinda ridiculous and a real test of patience and kills some pacing especially near the end. Further adding to my grievances with the monsters is the encounter rate being painfully inconsistent. There'll often be these stretches of time where you'll barely encounter anything and then all of a sudden, it feels like every other step results in another encounter. I'd argue that this inconsistency is not just annoying, but the worst way this could go, as despite how frustrating it would be to constantly have these random encounters, it would at least make grinding far quicker, and if the opposite happened, where the encounter rate was low, exploring would feel more enjoyable even if grinding became a more tedious process. This middle ground simply feels like it has the annoyances of both sides of the spectrum without much of the benefit.

There's also a point in the middle of the game where I feel like the pacing gets thrown very far out, with this largely intuitive progression being completely destroyed, where it feels like you're expected to traverse into lands far outside your power to get information, leading to a situation where you're either grinding against weak enemies for a while or having to pray that you can get through that part of the overworld while successfully running away from everything. This once again makes the latter part of the game feel a bit off despite still carrying a lot of previously mentioned positive qualities as well. The menu system here is also kinda weird with how you need to talk to people or even walk up stairs by going into the menu and hitting a certain option, but this honestly just took a bit of time to get used to before feeling natural, so it isn't too bad. In the end there are enough drawbacks to this game that I can't really wholeheartedly recommend it or say that I outright loved it either, but I really respect this and think that it's way cooler than it had any right to be. By essentially having the absolute core mechanics and systems of a JRPG and very little else, this actually feels like it suits the limited nature of the NES and feels very streamlined and cohesive in the end. An amazing example of less being more, with the things this game leaves out ultimately contributing to a more fulfilling experience, even if there are still some serious flaws with the experience as a whole.
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Kempokid 2021-10-03T12:32:00Z
2021-10-03T12:32:00Z
3.0
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Dragon Quest is a terrible game, especially considering the time it was released in. Keep in mind that Ultimas 1-4 and Wizardrys 1-3 already existed when this came out and then consider that this game basically just takes the world of Ultima 3, rips out everything that made that game world interesting, and takes the combat of Wizardry and reduces it exclusively to one-on-one battles. This latter example is the main reason why this game so completely falls flat on its face. Every single combat encounter is just a repetitive mashing of the attack button, occasionally taking a turn to use Stopspell, Sleep, or Heal instead. Resource management is stripped down to its bare essentials with little tactical planning at all outside of whether to heal or not before a battle or to retreat altogether. This is incredibly dull but could be forgivable if the game was nice and short. After all, it was designed to be played by kids and had no intention of being the next Wizard’s Crown or anything complicated like that. Instead, you will fight hundreds of the same repetitive battles over and over again because you level up so slowly and there is so little content available that the only solution to advancing the plot is to walk over practically every square inch of the game world, wasting hours on the same fights again and again.

I could almost forgive Yuji Horii for thinking this was acceptable if this was his first attempt to make a role-playing video game without any prior knowledge of existing titles, but I know he played Wizardry and was therefore well aware of how that game succeeded on account of its intricately crafted dungeon with a much wider array of potential combat solutions, traps, and navigational difficulties that culminated in one large puzzle to be solved through careful planning and tactics. The only tactic in Dragon Quest is to run around mashing the A button until you finally manage to make it to the next town over, usually because you leveled up. The dungeons are also empirically simple and require no planning or mapping to navigate whatsoever, which feels more like a relief in this game anyway because the core gameplay loop is so unsatisfying.

I understand that anyone who played this game back in 1986 (or 1989 outside of Japan, which… ugh, is the version I played and this one apparently is less grindy and more graphically advanced!) who did not have a home computer was likely first exposed to this style of gameplay through Dragon Quest, but that honestly makes it seem even worse that Yuji Horii chose to dole out content he already knew existed over the course of three games to unsuspecting audiences who wouldn’t have known any better. Dragon Quest is, honestly, one of the worst games I’ve ever played and it baffles me that this game isn’t universally panned in hindsight when everyone has access to its far superior influences. It’s just one long, tedious unfulfilling grind that culminates in nothing of substance whatsoever. Also it has input lag.
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This is about as basic as an RPG can get and not just be Dungeons and Dragons or this games immediate influence Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. This is the template from which all other JRPG's come and it really shows. The game play is basic and tedious for it's time period. By that I mean grinding and lots and lots of it, to say the least. You fight in little screens that pop up in basic turn based battles. Showing only the monsters and not yourself during combat. You only have 1 character throughout the whole of DQ1 and no party members. There are no classes and magic is even kind of scant in this. See what I mean by this being bare bones?
The game has a few towns and villages to visit and one thing I will say in this games favor and that of it's most immediate predecessors, is that unlike a lot of early RPG's on the NES and other early consoles, the people in town are actually very useful and they have just enough personality, to make it all not seem like it isn't just exposition and plot arrow signs. The puff puff girl being the absolute greatest character in the game... Ok, I'll calm down a bit. We all need a little puff every now and then though.

The story is also Mario the RPG edition, I mean you know, before that actually existed. You save a princess as a key part of a plot, which includes an admittedly humorous element where you carry her all the way back to the castle. Which is about half a continent away and through a long cave. At the end of the story like Mario you fight a big lizard man at the end, who is called the Dragonlord. Future Dragonquest games have more things to do and see but this plot is about as rudimentary as possible. One thing I like about this games map layout is you can see the Dragonlords castle from the very start of the game. I like when a game makes it's main goal clear from the start and there is this nagging carrot on a stick element to this basic design that makes you feel like getting there must be a lot easier than it actually ends up being. I can say in the stories defense that it never feels overly complicated or hard to understand but on the flipside it also isn't very memorable on it's own. One interesting aspect of the story is that you can choose to become a servant of the Dragonlord thus giving us one of the earliest "Evil" endings in a video game. The canon story is of course that this didn't happen, but interestingly decades later Square Enix used this plot device as an alternate timeline for the Dragonquest builders games.

There is some charm here with Akira Toriyama's monster and character designs and in the music. I don't quite like it as much as Yoshitaka Amano's art direction and Nobuo Uematsu's music from Final Fantasy [ファイナルファンタジー]. Neither of these games look as good as motherfucking Phantasy Star [ファンタシースター] though, fishmen be styling. In Dragon Quest's defense even in the NES iteration Akira's artwork is more apparent than Amano's in the actual execution of the game. Even now I don't think the Final Fantasy games have lived up to Amano's designs let alone in the 8bit era.
Town's in this game look extremely primitive in their display, they're barely a step up from Ultima's early iterations, in that the buildings don't have roofs and doors are only put on certain buildings to be an obstacle and not a function of aesthetics. This extremely basic design would be the case until the games were remade for the SNES (Best versions of the first 3 games.) and even then then the buildings don't look fully formed or upgraded much until the 3rd game.

If I'm rating this game on it's influence and importance to video game history it would be beyond a 10/10. The Dragon Quest games are loved far more in Japan than in most of the rest of the world and they have influenced basically every RPG series that has ever come out of the country in one way or another. I always thought for instance that the rest of the world saw Shigeru Miyamoto as the Walt Disney of video games, you know without the antisemitism... I think. Anyway, I thought this must be the case especially in his homeland but, the reality is even Shiggy Diggy himself plays second fiddle to Yuji Horii creator of Dragon Quest in Japan. When people think of a "video game creator" in Japan, Horii is who they think about, his name is almost synonymous with the job title, in the way that "Spielberg" was with directing in my lifetime. Or at least that is what I'm told. Please tell me in a million and one ways how I'm the worst person ever for being wrong about something I can only know secondhand. My body is ready and willing.
If I rate it for personal enjoyment even with some of the improvements the Super Famicom version and GBC version bring it wouldn't be massively high in all honesty. It holds up for what it is and it can be fun in it's raw simplicity, but again it's not a very memorable experience on it's own. I'm inclined to give this game a slight bump in my estimation of it given some things that happen later in the series that make the plot to this first game seem more important in hindsight. I don't want to spoil anything about future releases, but the Roto trilogy (the first three games) make this game and the land of Alefgard a central building block and even though the plots to those games don't get a whole lot more complicated than this one, at least it all feels natural and necessary and some of the things you learn about this game in hindsight were genuinely interesting to me. As it is it's a pretty solid minimalist experience now, with an influence more gigantic than almost any other game I could think of in it's genre.
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Catalog

iq070 ドラゴンクエスト 2022-11-29T02:33:50Z
2022-11-29T02:33:50Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LuxInterior_00 ドラゴンクエスト 2022-11-22T10:14:23Z
2022-11-22T10:14:23Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bci9215 ドラゴンクエスト 2022-11-12T00:57:02Z
2022-11-12T00:57:02Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Zephiel87 ドラゴンクエスト 2022-11-09T14:53:32Z
2022-11-09T14:53:32Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CrankyKong98 Dragon Quest 2022-11-06T03:26:46Z
Switch
2022-11-06T03:26:46Z
9.0 /10
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Faceplantfloor ドラゴンクエスト 2022-10-25T04:43:29Z
2022-10-25T04:43:29Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LaserPH ドラゴンクエスト 2022-10-21T09:17:02Z
2022-10-21T09:17:02Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
crapballa ドラゴンクエスト 2022-10-19T08:07:12Z
2022-10-19T08:07:12Z
1.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
gunlantern ドラゴンクエスト 2022-10-17T19:48:22Z
2022-10-17T19:48:22Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Aidenbowe45 ドラゴンクエスト 2022-10-09T17:58:32Z
2022-10-09T17:58:32Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mcgarnickle ドラゴンクエスト 2022-10-09T16:45:02Z
2022-10-09T16:45:02Z
4.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
smitwil1 ドラゴンクエスト 2022-09-21T03:52:16Z
2022-09-21T03:52:16Z
2.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Dragon Warrior
  • Dragon Quest
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  • Previous comments (3) Loading...
  • UnmistakableRin 2020-12-21 21:22:52.889159+00
    Grinding: The Video game
    reply
    • UnmistakableRin 2021-10-29 04:04:22.534225+00
      It's fun, doe.
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  • switch1e 2021-05-10 19:05:05.447937+00
    certainly not that special today but monumental for its time
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  • Pegarange 2021-06-28 22:10:13.376845+00
    The amount of tedious grinding in this is unholy
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  • TheDavidLol 2021-06-29 00:26:02.952465+00
    Extremely boring and not worth playing more than once. At least it helped form the JRPG genre, though.
    reply
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  • Saturnome 2021-07-02 05:12:08.246519+00
    The perfect minimalist RPG. How wrong this website can be
    reply
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  • hopeascendchaos 2021-10-20 00:58:55.829534+00
    yeah I actually really like how minimalist it is. makes it a comfy playthrough
    reply
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  • jasterlaf 2022-05-05 21:09:58.0547+00
    I tried playing the nes original and couldn't keep going, then I got a translation of the super famicom remake and beat it in about 8 hrs. It cuts down on the grinding so the progression feels pretty natural. So then I just started to appreciate some of the subtle writing, puzzles, and quirks in the game. One of the most important games ever, but even today it's pleasant and interesting.
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  • ResetRPG 2022-06-02 00:13:30.851488+00
    Currently playing this on my Switch, and it's a pretty great experience in my opinion. I don't have much experience with Famicom style JRPGs, so this has been a bit of a culture shock when it comes to experiencing it, but this is like a comfort food game. It's super simple and easy, but enjoyable enough to keep you coming back and grinding.
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