Dragon Warrior hit the NES in ’89 and pretty much introduced the RPG genre to a new generation of gamers. I played Dragon Warrior growing up, but was never able to finish it thanks to my game cartridge always erasing itself. With Jarrod gifting me a fan-translated reproduction copy of Dragon Quest I.II for the Super NES, I was finally able to complete the original classic. While the remake itself was sadly never released in North America, it is the definitive version of Dragon Quest, and should be experienced by fans of Japanese role-playing games. Those who understand the language can import it for fairly cheap, and even play it on their SNES with a simple modification. For the majority of us, the only way to experience this gem is by emulation, or via a reproduction cart.
While Dragon Quest seems primitive today, it’s responsible for the birth of console role-playing games. Experiencing it again today with improved visuals and gameplay mechanics is simply a joy. It can be completed in about six to eight hours so it’s not too demanding either. Those that never played the original should start here. The game’s charm hasn’t aged a day.
+ While the overworld doesn’t look very different from the NES original, the castles and towns are ten times more detailed. Sure, for a Super Nintendo game, it’s not exactly a visual masterpiece, but it’s definitely an improvement over the original.
+ Level up faster thanks to a more generous amount of experience points given out after every battle. This is by far the biggest improvement. Grinding was painful before because of extremely low amounts of experience rewarded for defeating an enemy. That’s not to say all the grinding has been removed, just that it’s far less demanding.
+ A classic is a classic for a reason. While the story is clichéd and borderline non-existent, it didn’t feel that way in the 80’s. Rescuing a princess from a dragon has been used so many times now that it’s hard to care. As a child growing up, you didn’t need any other reason to play a videogame.
+ Exploration has always been my favorite aspect of the series. Every time I explore a new patch of land I always feel excitement mixed with fear as I have no clue what type of monsters I’m about to face. This is a game that opens up the world map right from the get-go, and lets you explore almost all of it. Because of that, you’re always one battle away from death. Finding the nearest town is always a race, and you’re never sure if you’ll make it in time. I love it.
+ A simple button press can now execute tasks such as opening doors, treasure chests, talking to people, or simply searching an area for items. In the original DQ, you had to open a menu and then select a different option depending on the task.
– Take out the grinding and this game could be completed in about 20 minutes.
Conquering Dragon Quest for the first time is one of my early 2014 moments. If you haven’t done so yourself, I really recommend checking out this game as it’s simply a classic in every way.
Final Score: 8.5/10