Like it or hate it, you've probably heard of Dragon
Warrior or Dragon Quest in some form or another. With four
incarnations on the NES alone, it trails close behind Mega Man and
Mario for the highest number of serial games released on the NES.
It continues to be an extremely popular series in Japan, but is not as
well received here in America (evident due to the poor sales of Dragon
Warrior VII on the Playstation). What helped kick off Dragon
Warrior's brief stint of fame in America
was a promotional giveaway from Nintendo Power, where you'd receive a
copy of Dragon Warrior 1 for just for subscribing. That's right,
throw down $15 for a magazine subscription and they'd lob a $40 game
your way for free. Sounds like a good deal to me.
As you can see from these screenshots, there is more to the translation
of Dragon Warrior than a simple language change. Nearly all of
the game's sprites have been changed in the American release.
There is also a slight change in the gameplay; in the NES version, your
character can face any of four directions, and even has a two-frame
walk animation for each of these directions. in the Famicom
version, all of the characters would face the screen at any given time,
and to talk to someone nearby they would have a dialog box telling them
to indicate a direction to speak.
Up, down, left or right
Despite these minor (and seemingly unnecessary) changes, the
game remains the same at its core; a rather simplistic RPG. There
are a few puzzles to be found and dungeons to be explored, as well as a
"legendary" weapon and armor that you must find to stand a chance
against the final enemy. All pretty typical RPG fare.
Above left: Seeing a small slice of
dungeon through the minimal light your torch gives you
Above right: Wandering about Alefgard, looking for Magicians and
Drakees to bop
The main emphasis of the game, however, is leveling up. You'll
have to fight quite a lot of enemies to afford the weapons and armor
you'll need, as well as ascend in levels. Basically, what would
be a two-hour affair is extended to well over ten due to the minimal
amount of gold and experience most enemies give out. Thus, those
who are kept interested in RPGs by the story won't have much to find
Still, despite being rather dull due to the frequent leveling and
gold-gathering, Dragon Warrior isn't too bad of a game. Not the
most exciting title in the NES library by any means, but one worth
looking at nonetheless, especially since you can pick it up for $5
nowadays. A stark contrast to its three NES sequels, which are
all very rare.
-Skip the Bamboo Pole and the Clothes, they're useless. Go
right for the Club and the Leather Armor early on (even though you'll
have to fight without one or the other for a short time, it'll be worth
-Get Erdrick's Armor from Hauksness as soon as possible, it's good
stuff. Hauksness is overrun with tough enemies though, so you'll
want to get to level 15 or so before venturing in.
-Be at level nine or higher before you make the trip to the island
through the tunnel, the enemies there are quite tough on the southern
-Fighting Goldmen on the southern island is probaby the fastest way of
-Don't enter Charlock until you're at least at level 20, and don't take
on the Dragonlord himself until you're at 24 or higher.
My Dragon Warrior resources