Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jan 182016
Given the amount of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, maybe the lack of story is a blessing.

Given the amount of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, maybe the lack of story is a blessing.

With lots of Dragon Quest news catching my eye, I resolved to finally get into the series. After consulting fans on the best place to start, I officially decided to either dig out my copy of Dragon Warrior III or buy the iOS version of Dragon Quest IV.

So of course, I played the original Dragon Quest instead.

It wasn’t my intention, but when I went to buy Dragon Quest IV, I saw how cheap Dragon Quest I & II were in the App Store and couldn’t resist. Once I had them, why not start from the top?

I went into Dragon Quest worried I wouldn’t like it. I couldn’t get into the original Final Fantasy, and my memories of Dragon Warrior III revolved around too much grinding and getting frustrated (admittedly, I was 12 at the time). However, Dragon Quest pleasantly surprised me.

The story is as basic as they come. You’re descended from a legendary hero. You must reach the Dragonlord’s castle to defeat him and save the world (and save the princess, though I think that’s actually optional).

Gameplay is also pretty basic. You only have one character, and it’s a simple turn-based battle system.

It technically has an open world, but it didn’t bother me. The sheer difficulty of enemy encounters if I went the wrong way was as much of a deterrent as a physical barrier. I enjoyed edging a little further into new areas to see if I could handle it yet.

And it was nowhere near as grindy as I expected.

As far as I can tell, the iOS port is based on the SNES remake, which rebalanced the gameplay. Maybe that’s why, but I rarely felt like I was really grinding. There was always a new direction to try, a new set of monsters to test myself against.

Only at the very beginning, when I was weak, and at the end, when I had a single goal, did I feel I had to grind.

I liked the gradual sense of becoming stronger as I leveled up, and I loved talking to NPCs to figure out my next objective. Without a story to compel me, I still found myself anxious to return to the game to see if I was right about my next destination.

Of course, Dragon Quest is also short. I don’t think I would have enjoyed such a bare-bones RPG experience for too long. As it was, I enjoyed it, and I understand why it resonated with players way back when it first came out.

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  8 Responses to “Dragon Quest: My Journey Back to Early JRPGs”

  1. So you gonna play the games in the series people actually care about?

    (And…are much longer?)

  2. […] ago when I played the first Dragon Quest, my plan was to play II next and progress through the series one game at a […]

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