From the beautiful artwork by Akira Toriyama to creating the Japanese role playing game, Dragon Quest is a series that’s known for many things. The first game in the series was released for the Famicom in 1986, and it has been ported to numerous platforms ever since. The most recent version of the game is available on Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS. It may not be the best version of the game, but it’s serviceable for anyone curious about this classic game.
The Story of Dragon Quest
The Dragonlord has kidnapped the princess and stolen the orb of light. It’s up to you to go on a quest to save the princess and retrieve the orb. This will involve traveling the world and retrieving items left behind by your ancestor, Erdrick. Much like everything else in the game, the story isn’t bad, but it is very basic. The plot really doesn’t develop much past the initial set-up.
This is a stark contrast to modern JRPGs, which have a reputation for complicated stories. When playing the original Dragon Quest, it is important to remember its place in history. Before this, role playing games were never seen on home consoles. The genre had to start somewhere, and this was a solid start.
The Beginnings of Turn-Based Combat
Progressing through the game is a process of getting to a new area, then grinding for levels until the monsters are no longer a challenge. The gameplay is as basic as turn-based combat can get. All battles are one on one, and only one fight has a strategy that is deeper than “hit it until it dies”. This makes most battles go by very fast. That is a good thing because the game has a very high random encounter rate.
The amount of grinding in the original Dragon Quest can make the game feel like a real chore at times. The lack of story and side quests means that level grinding takes up the vast majority of the game’s playtime. There are very few towns and dungeons, so most of the game takes place on the world map, which is very small.
The overall experience of Dragon Quest is a very short one. It should take most people only about six to eight hours to finish the game. Since so much of that time is spent in repetitive random battles, it’s a game that’s probably best played while watching TV or listening to a podcast.
The Dragon Quest Look and Feel
Dragon Quest is a very lighthearted adventure. This is largely due to the brilliant monster and character designs by Akira Toriyama, combined with the soundtrack by Koichi Sugiyama. Akira Toriyama is also known for creating the Dragon Ball franchise; many designs in Dragon Quest are similar to designs seen in Dragon Ball. Since Toriyama has done designs for the entire series, the Dragon Quest franchise has a more unified look than most other long-standing JRPG franchises.
Each track of music composed by Koichi Sugiyama has a light tone and an epic feel. The world map and battle theme are the two pieces of music that will be heard most while playing Dragon Quest. However, since battles go by so fast, the player usually doesn’t hear much more than the first few seconds of the battle music. After a few hours of playing, those first few seconds can get annoying.
VIBE Score 7.5/10
Despite how tedious it is, the original Dragon Quest is still a fun and satisfying experience. Since the game is so short, it’s easy to recommend this as a weekend playthrough for any JRPG fan who is curious about the origins of the genre.
32, living in Arizona with a passion for video games, music and movies.