Dragon Warrior - Reader Retroview  

Textbook RPG
by Lucky Melchior

8 - 12 Hours


Rating definitions 

   In 1989 Enix released Dragon Quest in North America as Dragon Warrior. Over a decade later, in 2000, it was re-released in North America, paired with it's sequel, Dragon Warrior II, on the Gameboy Color. I received Dragon Warrior as a Christmas present in 1989 and it was my first console RPG. Since then I have relied on Dragon Warrior as the most basic definition of what an RPG is.

   The battle system is your most basic turn-based system. Since you have no allies, every battle is a one-on-one battle with a monster. You can either fight, cast a spell, use an item or run away. The one unique aspect of the gameplay is that caves and dungeons are pitch black. You must use either a torch or the magic spell, radiant, that you will eventually learn.

Very Simple Graphics On The NES Very Simple Graphics On The NES

   It's story is Dragon Warrior's weakest aspect. While the Dragon Quest/Warrior series always places the focus on the adventure and people you meet; rather than on deep character development, Dragon Warrior takes it to the extreme. The Dragon Lord has taken the Ball of Light and terrorizes the land, already destroying one town. You are the descendant of the legendary hero of old, Erdrick (Loto in the GBC remake), and take up the task of trying to save the Kingdom. You basically just have to collect a few artifacts in order to face the Dragon Lord. There is one sidequest and one optional cave.

   The graphics on the original version of the game were below average even for the NES at the time and certainly have not aged well. However, if you are going to try and pick up this game to play now you would most likely be picking up the GBC version to play on your GBA and therefore the graphics are improved and much more pleasing to the eye, although ultimately average. The best aspect of the game visually is Akira Toriyama’s monster designs.

Improved Graphics On The GBC Improved Graphics On The GBC

   Koichi Sugiyama is one of my all time favorite video game composers. Although his soundtrack for the original is fairly average at best, it plants the seed for much better soundtracks later on. The overworld theme happens to be one of my favorites, however, you will hear it an awful lot throughout this game. There are few other tracks throughout the game and they are all relatively average.

   In the NES version of the game the interface is quite clunky, the player being forced to use the menu system to do such basic actions as going up stairs. The GBC version rectifies this by using a universal action button. The menu is only used for items, status and equipment. The dialogue is improved in the GBC version as well. However, certain names are changed to be shorter, such as Erdrick changing to Loto and Dragon Lord to Draco Lord.

   Dragon Warrior is a short and basic game. But as one of the first console RPGs, it was revolutionary. With the backward compatibility of the GBA, players who have never played the original should pick up the GBC version for the chance to play a classic with a little polish on it.

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