Dragon Quest fans have had it rough over the years. First we were never properly introduced to the Dragon Quest series because the trademark belonged to the makers of Dungeons and Dragons so the series had to be named Dragon Warrior. Next, it took far too long for the translations to hit North America and as such the games started to look extremely dated next to games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the like. Finally we missed out on Dragon Quest V for the Super NES, even after the translation work was all but finished (or extremely close to being finished), when Enix left North America back in November 1995 due to poor sales of the Dragon Warrior series. That’s what I call rough!
Thankfully things turned around when Enix returned in 1999. Their first game was Dragon Warrior Monsters for the Game Boy Color. That was a great time for fans of the series because the company quickly announced that Dragon Warrior VII (PS1) would be making its way to North America shortly after the debut in Japan. In reality it took a year to arrive, but at least it was released. From 1999 to DW VII’s North American release in late 2001, fans were treated to Torneko: The Last Hope (PS1), Dragon Warrior I&II (GBC), Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (GBC), and Dragon Warrior III (GBC).
While it was awesome to have the Erdrick trilogy on the GBC, it was far from ideal. Sure these remakes had tons of improvements over the originals, from expanded and fleshed out storylines, to additional classes in DW III, the biggest improvements made were to the core gameplay. Now players could talk to people, open doors, and do other super simple actions with the press of a button instead of always going into the menu system. Another major improvement was made to the core combat system. In the original games if players had two people attack the same Slime, for example, and the first team-member killed the Slime, the second member lost his turn. These remakes adjusted that so the second member would automatically attack the next enemy on-screen. We take small improvements like this for-granted, but go back and play the original games and you’ll see how cumbersome and archaic they feel.
The biggest problem with the Game Boy Color remakes is that they look extremely dated today. Thanks to the small screen real-estate, Enix had to make everything super tiny in order to fit what they needed to. Enemies don’t look anywhere near as detailed and smooth as they should. Also playing Game Boy games isn’t as easy as it once was. You have to go and pickup a Game Boy Advance SP (best GB ever created!), or a Game Boy Player for the GameCube. Most people would likely just emulate the games and be done with it. Even the original NES games are extremely hard to find, and ultra expensive. They have yet to appear on the Virtual Console for either the Wii or the Wii U, making them true collector’s items.
So what’s the big deal you might say, only that Dragon Quest/Warrior III is widely regarded as the best game in the entire series. While I don’t agree with that statement myself, the game has sold over six million units in Japan since it was released. That number includes the two remakes. Two remakes you say?! That’s right, the purpose of this article is basically to enlighten those that may not know, but there is indeed another, far superior remake to the Game Boy Color version, the ones released on the Super Famicom. See, there’s a reason why I mentioned Enix leaving North America in 1995 ;)
Dragon Quest I.II was released in 1993 for the Super Famicom, with Dragon Quest III hitting in 1996. These are the ultimate remakes, and have never been released outside Japan. While there are fan-translations available for emulators, it would be absolutely awesome to have Square-Enix finally release them in an official capacity. Today, DQ fans can easily purchase DQ IV, V, VI, and IX on the DS, and with any luck we’ll be able to purchase the DQ VII remake on the 3DS sometime next year. DQ VIII is also readily available for the PlayStation 2, and odds are looking good that DQ X will be released at some point on the PC. So with all these games available for fans to play, it seems a little odd to be missing the original trilogy, wouldn’t you say?
Over in Japan the situation isn’t anything like it is in the rest of the world. Dragon Quest is their series. There’s really no equivalent in North America except maybe Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, but even then it’s not exactly the same. The Dragon Quest series is part of their pop culture like you couldn’t even begin to imagine. As such they get remakes every single console generation. I won’t bother listing all the remakes they’ve had that we missed out on, but they’re numerous. The original trilogy remakes were just released as part of an ultra cool 25th anniversary collection for the Wii back in 2011, that the rest of the world completely missed out on. I never bothered importing it because it required an import Wii to play, or one that cracked the region blocking. Here’s a teaser of this incredible collection.