It All Started with Dragon Warrior…

It’s funny how things often go full circle.

My first RPG experience came in the late 80’s when Nintendo Power offered a free copy of Dragon Warrior for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Like most kids my age I was going nuts over pretty much anything coming from Nintendo at the time and (recognizing my excitement) my Mom had offered to get me the subscription to the magazine to get all the gaming news I could in that pre-internet era. A free game was just icing on the cake! Eager to gobble down almost any action title on the system back then I remember the excitement at finding out what lay in store once I popped that cartridge in…just as I remember my disappointment when the game actually started. What followed were inventory screens, menus, static monsters and an open world I had to have a fold-out map to find my way through. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to enjoy the game, but I just couldn’t get past the menus, combat and random encounters. Sadly, after only a handful of attempts I stopped playing.

At the time it appeared that Super Mario Bros., Mega Man and Strider were more my speed and as a result of that first RPG experience I stuck with Mario, Sonic, Street Fighter, 007 and the more action oriented games, and really didn’t touch another role playing game until a good 10+ years later. It was actually Xenosaga Episode I: Der Will Zur Macht on the PS2 (2003) that proved to be my breakthrough game in the genre. I was looking for an engrossing story and after reading an editorial on the game I thought that perhaps this one would turn out to be something I’d enjoy, despite it being an RPG. It took me a little while to get used to the game play conventions of turn-based battles, leveling up, skill allocation etc., but unlike the last time there was this moment where everything just finally *clicked* and I really found myself having a lot of fun. I played through the game [2] additional times and to say I was hooked would be an understatement (still love the Xenosaga series btw). Obviously I’ve since gone back and played, or attempted to play, a number of the classic RPG’s I had missed during my self-imposed exile from the genre — and ultimately that led me back to Dragon Quest.

I had felt guilty for some time about my first experience with the series, and when Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2; 2005) was announced and I saw those first screens, well, I knew the game would have to be my first foray back into the world that Yuuji Horii and Akira Toriyama had painstakingly created — and dang if I didn’t pick a fantastic DQ game to jump start me back! I was so enamored with DQVIII, what with its dynamic world, rich characters and addictive game play that not only did I figuratively face palm myself in the head for not realizing its greatness back then, but I also decided to use it as a springboard to start up my own Dragon Quest collection. I quickly re-obtained that original NES version of Dragon Warrior, hunted down gently used versions of the Game Boy Color DQ Remakes I-III, Dragon Quest Monsters I-II, and DQVII for future rainy days.  I scarfed up Rocket Slime and Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker for the DS a couple of years ago, Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors for the Wii, and of course, the shiny new versions of DQIV and DQV on the Nintendo DS which with the future release of DQVI will bring the series up-to-date here in the states. Of course, Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Sky hit U.S. several months ago now and 150+ hours in to the game it has certainly earned a place in my Top-Ten already…but more on that down the road.

Point being, Dragon Quest has become my favorite series in gaming in spite of my initial frustrations with the original, Loto/Roto (the original DQ hero) is one of my favorite characters, RPGs are my favorite genre and, truth be told, after 20-something years I even picked up a subscription to Nintendo Power again recently, so as to enjoy some of those nice 3-4 page spreads again. Yes, things really do often come full circle.

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8 Responses

  1. Although is a 24 years old RPG and despite its poor graphics and limited sound of that time,it’s still a great game in my opinion,being the first JRPG ever created for a 8-bit console.
    I finished it a few days ago and I’m planned to play the entire original series (hope I can do it);you really should reconsider this series,you don’t regret it and the only thing I hate of this game is its level grinding that it’s too excessive….(less exp and gold received even when defeating the toughest enemies).

    Anyway….I’m Prince Arus from Dragon’s Den,nice to meet you ^___^

    • Nice to meet you Arus, though no worries, as I noted in the article I’ve long since seen the error of my ways and the Dragon Quest series is my favorite RPG franchise. I even bought a used Gameboy Color last month so that I could finally take DW1 with me on the go.

      Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself.

  2. Don’t worry, it happened also to me, when i first played DW. I love Dragons and when i saw at the title DRAGON my eyes went towards the game and bought it. It took me around 5 years to play the game again after i got dissapointed the first tiem. But as soon as i liked the game, i’ve never stopped beign a fan of it. So don’t worry im pretty sure you are not the only one.

    Regards

    • Glad to meet you Trinidad, and I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one to need some time to warm up to the game (though in my case I imagine it was more a need for non-stop action in my games than anything wrong with DW1 itself). Better late than never eh?

  3. My god, a blog I will actually follow 😛 Although you were a late bloomer Im glad that someone fell in love with this beloved series by going BACKWARDS. This being said, you wrote that you went back and got all the remakes, man, you MUST play the originals (1-IV at least), on the original councils. May not be the fastest or entertaining thing in the world forcing yourself through I and most of II, but trust me, you get to III and you will see why that game has forever been etched in my heart as the greatest game ever made and made me a Dragon Quest fan for life.

    • Thanks Hawkeye, though I have to tell you that after getting married, and trying to start a family, that I don’t know if I’ll ever really have the time and means to play the originals on the NES. I won’t say never though, maybe I could play them with my future young-uns and get them hooked. IYO how does DQW3 hold up on the GBA remake (I am still enjoying DW1 at the moment)?

      • (I hear you on that, cant exactly say I have the most time for anything either) Its a fair remake. Looks a little klunky on GBC even though on the flip side at the time it did things no one thought was possible on GBC. but for the original, maybe Im just bias cause I fell in love with it at a very young age (4) but there is a certain feel when playing the original on NES that is unlike any other DQ game. Plus its always nice to see the natural progression of games and you can tell they hit their stride with III while they were still fumbling around with I & II.

  4. I really look forward to playing it as I’ve long since heard it’s the breakout game in the Loto trology – really staying with a lot of people. And pardon me for calling it a GBA remake above, force of habit, GBC it is.

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