Role-playing games have never been my strong suit. I had a strong aversion to them growing up due to my lack of patience and short attention span..but there was an RPG series that I always admired from afar. Dragon Quest. I was first exposed to the series with the 8th entry and the artwork for it blew my mind. Seeing that the creator of Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama, was the lead artist really piqued my interest. I never played it but the game always stuck in my mind. Then in high school, I finally got to play it and……I never beat it! Like I said I had a really hard time keeping interested in RPG’s when I was younger but as I got older I started to appreciate them more. I’ve beaten several games in the genre since reaching adulthood and I always wanted to get back to the series but I just couldn’t find the energy to do so…..
And then this shit happened.
Suffice to say, this really got my ass into gear to finally get into this series proper but instead of playing through VIII…I decided to start from the very beginning. Now you may be asking “Why?”
I dunno. It’s my life leave me alone.
Dragon Quest tells the story of a kingdom having its peace threatened by the emergence of the Dragonlord as he summons powerful and dangerous monsters to cause chaos across the land. Using these monsters, he captured the Ball of Light and aimed to conquer the world. Seeing his kingdom in need and his daughter kidnapped, the King enlists the help of the main character, descendant of the legendary hero Erdrick, to rescue the princess and retrieve the Ball of Light to save the land.
And that’s all you’re getting. What can I say, it was the first of its kind.
Dragon Quest is the game that basically started the JRPG genre so it’s very barebones and archaic in terms of story and gameplay but it never really bothered me that much. When the game isn’t throwing constant enemies at you through random encounters the game genuinely has this sense of wonder and adventure to it that’s very pleasant and relaxing. WHAT WASN’T PLEASANT WAS THE LOCALIZED TEXT.
The iOS version of Dragon Quest, unfortunately, uses the Dragon Warrior translation so every character talks in “olde English” and while it’s not hard to decipher…it IS incredibly annoying. Thankfully I’ve heard that the following entries abandoned this so it never became a trend. While I wasn’t a fan of the dialogue in this game, I can at least say the presentation as a whole was very nice.
The game, while basic, looks fine for what it is. The town environments can be a bit on the rough side due to the grass textures but the dungeons and the world map look great. The music is also good but it’s….something Every track in the game sounds fine, I’m not really one to nitpick about the use of midi’s as long as they sound good, but the battle theme is way too loud and loses its charm REALLY fast. Thankfully though the sprite work on the monsters looks absolutely wonderful. Toriyama’s art style was always super appealing and every enemy sprite has a ton of charm and personality.
As much charm as this game has, though, I can’t say that it’s the most pleasant game to play. Again I know that this is a VERY old NES game so it’s totally understandable that the game has antiquated design choices but that doesn’t make it any less cumbersome to experience. The encounter rates are extremely high and the combat itself is fairly mindless and lacks any engaging strategy outside of deciding where to heal. Not to mention, in the iOS port at least, you get sent back to the castle whenever you fall in battle so you have to slowly walk ALL THE WAY BACK to where you died and it can get annoying really quickly. Hell, I save scummed the final boss just because I got sick of walking back to his castle after every death (Thank god for the addition of quick-saves).
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Dragon Quest. It’s rough around the edges and it’s aged VERY bad but, there’s something charming about it. I love the sense of adventure it envokes in its exploration and gameplay, I enjoyed the simplistic combat despite my complaints, I love the art direction for it. If you enjoy JRPG’s and haven’t played this I highly recommend it…just be sure to use a guide when you do because it can be a bit aimless and hard to follow. Dragon Quest is a great template and I can’t wait to experience the rest of the series.
Except for X. I can’t read Japanese.