Dragon Warrior

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North American NES box art.

Dragon Warrior, known in Japan as ドラゴンクエスト [Doragon Kuesuto], "Dragon Quest", is a role-playing game for the NES developed by Chunsoft and published by Enix in 1986. It is the first game in the Dragon Warrior series.

Around 1990, my mother bought us Dragon Warrior and River City Ransom at a garage sale, and I found both games to be a lot of fun. Although, by today's standards, Dragon Warrior is a pretty dull game. I spent a lot of time playing this at home and at my cousin's house, and I remember my aunt, who is very religious, being very concerned about the game having a "warlock" in it.

Status

I own this game for the NES and have beaten it with maxed-out stats.

Review

  • Overall: 4/10
  • Best Version: NES

Good

  • The monster graphics are fantastic for the time.
  • Even with the game's rather poor audio driver, the music is quite good. Enix was wise to hire a professional composer.
  • The player sprite graphic changes when he's holding a sword, shield, and the princess. A nice touch.
  • Showing the evil Charlock Castle surrounded by swamp in the distance is a nice way of letting the player imagine how awful it's going to be. Although, it create a plot hole: why doesn't Alefgard have boats?
  • I like the reveal in the final battle.
  • The game has three different endings, based on whether you accept the Dragon Lord's offer, and whether you have rescued Princess Gwaelin. And a good cut scene for 1986.

Bad

  • There isn't much to do in the game. If grinding wasn't necessary, you could talk to every NPC, collect every items, traverse every map, and beat the game in about an hour.
  • The combat is very basic. You only ever control one hero, you only ever fight one monster, and your actions are limited to fight, spell, item, and run. However, if given the choice between combat that it too complex or too easy, I prefer too easy.
  • The save-the-princess trope was pretty played out, even in 1986, and it's embarrassing now. Especially since you have to literally carry Gwaelin all the way back to the castle (are her legs broken?), and when you succeed, she professes her love to you.
  • Even with only a handful of items in the game, the designer's still managed to make a few of them effectively useless including the Fighter's Ring, Cursed Belt, and Necklace of Death.
  • The game only has a single role-playing element at the very end, and it's entirely predictable.

Ugly

  • The game is painfully grind heavy. The designers would need to make enemies give about 10 times more experience than they do to make the game bearable by today's standards.

Media

Box Art

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