Last year I began my journey into the world of Dragon Quest with Dragon Quest XI, which quickly captivated me with its beautiful world full of magic and nostalgia heavy throwbacks to JRPGs of yesteryear. Unfortunately for me I never had an opportunity to experience the cult-like sensation that swept Japan all those years ago. So although I loved playing it, I didn’t quite understand all of the references and callbacks it made to the older titles in the series.
Flash forward to 2019 and now the first three Dragon Quest games (known originally in the U.S. as Dragon Warrior) are available for the Nintendo Switch and I can finally start chipping away at my new goal of playing through each of the mainline games! Good luck to me.
This was my first play through of the original game that started it all, Dragon Quest. I knew the stories that it was the granddaddy of all modern JRPGs and despite my love of the genre, for whatever reason, I never got around to playing it. Now my sin can be forgiven as I’ve finally finished it.
Playing the first Dragon Quest is like opening a history textbook that says “Soviet Union” instead of “Russia.” It has a lot of the same information and is immediately recognizable to people that played a later installment, but it lacks all of the quality of life features you’ve come to expect in the genre.
That being said, Dragon Quest is still fun and playable to this day. It lacks the forgiveness of newer titles. It isn’t afraid to be too hard. There’s an endless amount of random encounters. It won’t hold your hand. If you can get past all that then you’ll find a game that is worth playing – if not for fun but just for the historical value. Not many games have the ability to take over an entire country and influence its gaming culture the same way this one has.
This is a port of the mobile version of the game that has updated visuals and music. The original launched on NES with limited graphical capabilities so this updated version is a little easier on the eyes if you’re a newbie like me. Dragon Quest looks quite nice considering it’s over 30 years old. This is a great game to play in handheld mode on the Switch or even better on the new Switch Lite. The only visual drop I noticed is when the character moves on the overworld screen there’s a bit of a blur.
The mobile version introduced a few new features, such as updated graphics. All of the monsters now have new visuals, which help a lot with newer gamers trying it out for the first time like me. I was delighted to see how pretty much all the monsters I saw in XI came from this original game.
Much of the music in the series hasn’t changed much since this title. The battle theme might make you go insane a bit with how many times you have to listen to it, but it still sounds nice to me. Nothing beats the title theme though – a mainstay to this day.
There is a lot of backtracking in the game, especially considering the player can only hard save at the castle where you start the game. With backtracking comes plentiful random monster encounters, which you’ll need to fight in order to level up because there’s a lot of difficulty spikes that are only solved through level grinding. There is a quick save and auto save, both of which help to alleviate the how difficult the game can be at times. Just make sure you save often because you will lose half your gold if you die!
Dragon Quest on the Switch might be the best way to experience this classic JRPG that spawned a monolithic series that represents the pinnacle of the genre. It still holds up quite well if you’re willing to trudge through all the monster battles, although they eventually get easier as you level up. Physical buttons make this the better version over the mobile entry by far. If anything it’s worth it to find out what a puff-puff is.
Dragon Quest Review
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
The granddaddy of the genre, Dragon Quest, is now available for the Switch and it might be the best way to play this classic title. Get slimed!