Dragon Warrior / Dragon Quest

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, you'd 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 here.

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 it).
-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 island.
-Fighting Goldmen on the southern island is probaby the fastest way of earning cash.
-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

Rating: 6/10
One-line Synopsis:  Believe it or not, this game was pretty innovative for its time.

©2004 Spoony