Dragon Warrior

dragon warrior box art nes dragon quest
7.5 Overall Score
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Controls: 7/10

Fun intro to RPG video games

Not as expansive as later entries or Final Fantasy

Game Info

Game Name:   Dragon Warrior

Developer(s):   Chunsoft

Publisher(s):   Enix (Japan)/Nintendo (US)

Platform(s):   NES

Genre(s):   RPG/Retro Gaming

Release Date(s):   May 27, 1986

ESRB Rating:  Not Rated

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The Dragonlord has taken over the land and a hero must arise.  A young warrior has set out on a quest to liberate the land, but he isn’t ready to take on the Dragonlord.  He must fight his way through monsters, find the armor he needs, retrieve the stolen Balls of Light, and save Princess Gwaelin.  Journeying from King Lorik’s Tantegel Castle, the adventure is beginning and a hero will be born!

Dragon Warrior is the American version of the first Dragon Quest game.  The video game was released for the Famicom in Japan and the NES in the United States.  It was well received by fans and critics and launched the Dragon Quest series.  The United States version of Dragon Warrior featured a back-up battery to save video game progress while Japan’s edition was password based.

Dragon Warrior was a gift.  I was a regular Nintendo Power reader and one year, Nintendo Power offered Dragon Warrior as a renewal “reward” for subscribers.  At the time, any game you received you played and Dragon Warrior was one of my first forays into roleplaying games.

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Be prepared for inane conversations in quasi-English dialect

Dragon Warrior is a very basic roleplaying game in that function.  A lot like its predecessors like Ultima, the game honestly doesn’t have much to do.  I spent much of my time just outside of the castle leveling up and gaining money.  I would power myself up enough to get my next mission and while it wasn’t necessarily fun, it was necessary to advance in the game.  It was a simple chain of fights that ultimately paid off with patience.  Unlike something like Final Fantasy, the plot of Dragon Warrior didn’t really propel you forward as much.

The graphics are essentially Nintendo graphics.  The character walks around a world map and is sucked into battles with various creatures.  Unlike later versions of the game, you can’t see the creatures coming at you (and I can remember my horror of facing off against a big creature when I was just trying to get to a save point).  Fortunately, the game features characters designed by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama and that is a bit of fun.

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Kill the Dragonlord…for a lackluster ending

Since the game is turned based roleplaying, controls really aren’t much of an issue.  Everyone can pick this game up and start playing it.  It takes little skill, and the real challenge of the game comes down to strategy.  As a result, it is a great entry point for younger RPG players (and it does teach patience and saving…don’t waste your gold on stupid stuff if you can help it.

I can understand how Dragon Warrior isn’t for everyone.  The game is very low-key, turned based, and the creatures attack at random.  There isn’t quite enough to do in the series…get the sword, get the armor, defeat the Dragonlord.  To try to mass market the game to players of the NES probably was a bit odd at the time, but for me it worked and reeled me in.  Nintendo’s next big RPG series Final Fantasy cemented my love of RPGs and has left me always toying with at least one as I continue jumping and bouncing my way through games like Mario.  Dragon Warrior (or Dragon Quest) was followed by Dragon Warrior II (or Dragon Quest II:  Luminaries of the Legendary Line) in 1987 and Dragon Warrior III (or Dragon Quest III:  The Seeds of Salvation) in 1988 served as prequel for Dragon Warrior.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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