Dragon Warrior - Staff Retroview  

Here's a Stick, Go Save the World
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

10-20 Hours


Rating definitions 

   This review is based on the Gameboy remake. The first game in the popular Dragon Warrior series begins with the princess and the light orb being stolen from the kingdom. The world is in peril and, as the decedent of the legendary hero, you're the only who can save it. To help you on your quest the king gives you a torch and about enough money to buy some basic supplies and a stick. Thus, armed with a stick, you go forth to save the world. While something doesn't quite seem right about the world, Dragon Warrior is a quick and fairly enjoyable game.

   Dragon Warrior has a very simple battle system since you only have one character the entire game. You can attack the enemy, use a spell, or use an item. Longer battles end up being a cycle of attacking until you are low on hp, healing, and then starting the cycle anew. There isn't very much strategy involved since you only have a single character and battles are generally uneventful. As you level up, you gain new spells and as you travel you can buy or find equipment to aid you in battle. The battle system is a bit below average, but still isn't bad for a NES game.

Dun dun dun Dun dun dun

   Since you travel alone, none of the enemies are designed to inflict massive amounts of damage. As long as you conserve MP and keep a good supply of healing items, no enemy in the game will be able to defeat you. Well, unless you wander into a really high level area when you're on a very low level or something. There isn't much of a challenge in the game and even the last boss is pretty easy.

   Since there aren't very many menus or even dialog in the game, it's hard to say that there's great interaction. It seems to be fairly average for the most part from what little there is.

   Being one of the first RPGs ever made, Dragon Warrior is fairly original. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of content in the game so the overall effect is only slightly above average.

   There is a slight lack of story in Dragon Warrior. Bad things happen so you leave to set them right. Along the way you need to collect some items and try to save the princess and light orb. That's about it. While that's not bad for a NES game, it isn't exactly good either.

Wow! All this treasure for me!? Wait a minute...this is barely enough gold to buy a stick! Wow! All this treasure for me!? Wait a minute...this is barely enough gold to buy a stick!

   Dragon Warrior is a very short game. Battles last only a few seconds and there aren't very many bosses. If you know what you're doing you could probably finish the entire game in about 10 hours. They don't give you very good hints as to where certain key items are though, so it might take you up to 20 hours total if you need to spend a lot of time searching for them.

   There are a few catchy themes, especially the opening, but there is very little variety. The overworld, battle, and dungeon themes quickly get old and there are few other themes in the game. The NES does have very limited storage space so it ends up being average overall though.

   Enemies are well drawn and well animated. There is a bit of enemy sprite re-use, but only an average amount for a NES game. The visuals outside of battle are plain for the most part, but overall the visuals are quite nice. In fact, the visuals are probably the most impressive part of the game.

   While the first installment of the Dragon Warrior series is only a little above average, it does leave open a lot of opportunities for improvement. The game is a bit repetitive, but it's over before it gets very annoying. It's worth playing if you want to see how the Dragon Warrior series began, but otherwise you probably won't enjoy it too much.

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