Dragon Quest (Available on Android and iOS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: September 11th, 2014
Parent Talk: Like the original NES version of Dragon Warrior, there is absolutely nothing damaging to children in this release. It’s fit for a five year old, or the ten year old at heart. There isn’t even direct action in the game, just static pictures that shake when your character ‘attacks’.
Plays Like: Dragon Quest is the game that laid the foundation for all other JRPGs to come, so you can expect lots of grinding, turn-based combat, and a simple magic and leveling system. Don’t expect anything robust or deep, this is the one that started it all, not a modern day RPGs with countless options and level trees.
Review Basis: Not only did I complete the original Dragon Warrior on the NES when it was originally released, but I took the time to play through the Super Famicom remake, and again on my iPhone 5. This is a fantastic port of a legendary game.
Wizardry and Ultima may have been the forefathers of RPGs on home computers, but it wasn’t until Enix’s Dragon Quest that RPGs literally exploded, especially in Japan. Sure it took a while before North Americans and Europeans warmed up to what we now call JRPGs, but in the East, Dragon Quest ushered in an entirely new way of playing videogames, and to this very day the series continues to dominate the Japanese sales charts. Sadly Dragon Quest has never been super popular outside of Japan, and because of that we have missed a truckload of fantastic remakes, side games, and even some of the coolest action figures and statues you could possibly imagine. Square-Enix has now decided to test the waters by releasing the series on mobile platforms running on Android and iOS, so let’s see how the very first console RPG stacks up several decades after its original release, being played on a touch screen no less.
I cannot believe I am actually writing these words down, but the absolute best version of Dragon Quest ever released outside Japan is on iOS and Android. Did you honestly ever think that would happen?!?! The graphics and sound are fantastic, and have all been updated from the Super Famicom remaster. While I still prefer that version, it never officially saw the light of day outside Japan. Several years back Square-Enix released a mobile version of the Super Famicom port, albeit greatly tweaked for the cellphones and this version is based on that version that was only released in Japan. Boy what a mouthful. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter where the game comes from, this is absolutely the best way to experience the original Dragon Quest outside Japan. Simple as that. The graphics and audio are leagues better than the NES original or the Game Boy Color port. So if you’re curious about where the series started, play this one. Nuff said.
- The gameplay might be incredibly simple by today’s standards, but it holds up perfectly, and dare I say it, but feels completely natural on a mobile device. The interface has been completely streamlined for single hand use. To walk around you simply move your thumb anywhere on the screen, or on the visible track pad. Simply tap a command to execute an attack, or check your inventory, equip a weapon, etc. It can take some getting used to since there is no tactile feedback, but it works far better than I thought it would.
You play as a descendant of Erdrick out to stop the evil Dragonlord. That’s it, the story never gets deeper than that, and you know what, it doesn’t need to. You only have one party member for the duration of this six to seven hour game. Like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and that is so true here. What’s interesting though is that Square-Enix decided to stick closely to the original translation of the NES version, known as Dragon Warrior. That means Erdrick replaces Loto, and some of the original old English also makes a return, although it has been streamlined and isn’t featured in the battle screens thankfully.
Like the original game there is lots and lots of grinding to be had here, however I don’t look at it as a negative since the game is on your mobile device. Think about it, grinding while sitting in front of your TV gets old really quickly, but while you’re on the bus, train, or elsewhere it makes time fly for some reason. I found myself playing for five or ten minutes, and before I knew it I had gained a level. While on the bus I was grinding before tackling the Dragonlord and I almost missed my stop because I was so into what I was doing. That’s a great sign, and perhaps I was wrong to be so worried about the series going mobile-only outside Japan.
The price is right! Coming in at only $2.99, that is an absolute steal for the original Dragon Quest. Seriously, if you enjoy RPGs and own an Android or iOS compatible device, give this one a purchase. For $3 it’s a perfect impulse buy and I think you’ll be surprised.
- I really would have liked to have the option to play the game with a landscape mode instead of being forced to play only in portrait. I suppose it’s not the end of the world, but it would have been good to at least have the option.
The original Dragon Quest might seem archaic by today’s standards, but it holds up well, and this port is the best one we’ve ever had in North America and Europe. I can’t stress this enough but if you’re a fan of the series, support it by purchasing this game. Yes the controls will take some time to adapt to, but damn is it pretty and it sounds fantastic too. The translation is perfect, and the gameplay remains fun, grinding including. I will be purchasing the entire series on my iPhone 5 because I adore this series and part of me hopes if we all show enough support that Square-Enix just might release the next numbered entry on a home console here too. Let’s make this happen Dragon Quest fans!
Final Score: 8/10