RPG Review #76: Dragon Quest (or Warrior)

NuMetalManiak And so I finally get up and get to this particular RPG series, the Dragon Quest series, by starting out with an NES RPG classic, Dragon Warrior. They renamed it Warrior because of a tabletop role-playing game already held the name of DragonQuest. As far as I know, Dragon Quest is about as old as Final Fantasy, and surely enough, was made by none other than Enix. But this series manages to be somewhat different than the Final Fantasy games overall, just not as popular. So how did an original classic like this, which of course got a ton of other remakes, hold up for me? Especially considering how quickly I get to reviewing it?

Gameplay: Put short, this game is DIFFICULT. Expect to be grinding a whole lot in this game. This isn't the grinding for experience because enemies are tough. This isn't like the Phantasy Star games where you're more likely to grind for money to get the expensive equipment. This is BOTH of those. And let me tell you, I hated it. Most of the time is gonna be spent on the world map, fighting enemies that don't give a lot of experience or a lot of gold. The equipment is very expensive, and the level chart shows that you need lots of experience for even one level-up. Overall stat gains tend to be in single digits, and overall HP and MP are only in double digits pretty much all the time. And enemy encounters are easily segmented, so remaining in one area means you will find only a certain set of enemies.

As far as battles go, you only control one person the entire game, and enemies are always gonna be solo as well, meaning every battle is a one-on-one. This is fine, but given this is a totally random encounter rate, there can be tons of fighting, or not as much. As I said before though, very little in gold or experience is a big minus. Only two monsters in the game give good rewards, and even THEN they are not worthwhile. Seek out the Goldman enemies to get the best out of the gold reward, and seek out the metal slime for the best experience award. The metal slime has inspired a certain trope of enemies known for being hard to kill due to high defense and running away often, and Dragon Warrior was the first game to have these. As for other battles, many can be annoying, as enemies often have high damage, can inflict sleep or silence with their own spells, and of course, have the annoying tendency to surprise you.

So apart from battles, there's not much in the way of anything else. The towns are simplistic enough, although there are some hidden things sometimes. Dungeons are always dark, so either a spell or a torch item is necessary to see where you're going, but even dungeons aren't all that interesting because they are usually short. The menu screen for this game is unique. You can't just open a chest or door directly or talk to someone directly, or use a staircase directly, you have to use the right command in the menu to do that. While interesting, there's almost no point to it. Putting aside the grinding, this game is relatively short. It's only made long because of that grinding aspect. Grade: D+

Characters: No real treat here, I already said there's only one playable character, your unnamed knight. He is a descendant of the legendary knight Erdrick, tasked by King Lorik to save Princess Gwaelin and defeat the Dragonlord. I just mentioned all the main characters already. The GBC remake of this game named him Loto, but for this game, I had named my main character EpicFail. Oh, and every text in this game is presented in Ye Olde English. Grade: C-

Plot: Saying the characters above, I basically summed up the gist of the plot, save the princess and defeat the Dragonlord. Of course, this is easier said and done given this game's gameplay. There's a few other things to have in mind. Make sure that everyone knows that your knight is in fact a descendant of Erdrick by getting the right items. Make sure to actually get the right items to build a bridge leading to the Dragonlord's castle. Also don't forget to rescue the princess. The sprite for when you actually carry her is hilarious by the way. At the end, surprisingly, there's multiple endings, which raises my score for it a bit. Choosing to join Dragonlord is a bad ending as usual though. The good ending is where our protagonist actually speaks for the one and only time, not declaring to rule over the same land King Lorik does and instead going with Gwaelin to find a land to rule over. Grade: C

Music: You will learn to hate the battle theme after awhile, and not a whole lot of interesting tunes exist here. Thankfully, there's a final boss theme, and the overworld theme is nice. Also, NES sound is nice to hear every once in awhile. Grade: C

Overall Grade: C-

This is a game more recommended for its nostalgia moreso than its gameplay and plot. This game is very simplistic, perhaps to a fault which makes it so darn hard to play through. The remakes probably did a better job, but I don't feel like grinding so much in a game like this.