Or so I've heard, I've never actually played the game. So I'm going to shut up, turn it on, and get myself educated about a piece of genuine videogame history.
I tried to look up what the series was called here in Europe, but it turns out there WAS no series in Europe. Well okay we got Dragon Warrior Monsters in 1999, but the first main series DQ game to get a release here was Dragon Quest VIII in 2006, 20 years after the first game hit Japanese shelves. Took their bloody time.
The King explains that there once was a brave knight called Erdrick, who sought evil out and destroyed it. But after his fall Dragonlord stole his Ball, and it's me who has to retrieve it. PS. Rescue the Princess.
Dragon Warrior might not look so great even for a NES game, with its basic top down view and... you know I think those yellow boxes are meant to be a throne, but this is actually a graphical upgrade from the Japanese release.
|Dragon Quest (Famicom)|
If you're wondering how you interact with people and objects without being able to change direction, well they thought of a cunning solution: you have to specify the direction you want to be facing using a menu each and every time. Fortunately that's all gone in the US release.
You can really see the adventure game influence on the game here, as I have to bring up this command box before I can interact with anything. Even going up the stairs requires me to choose the 'stairs' command. The rival Final Fantasy franchise solved this clunky interface flaw about 19 months later by adding... a second button for context sensitive actions. So Final Fantasy 1 you can TALK, DOOR and STAIRS without ever opening up a menu!
overworld theme. It perfectly suits the lonely journey of a single brave hero in a grim and unforgiving land.
Right, before me lies two choices: I could send Erdrick's daring descendant wandering off in the general direction of adventure and end up getting him killed by some level one imp creature, or I could visit the town conveniently situated nearby and purchase a sword.
So this is a town then is it? It looks like they've put an outline of paving stones down in place of walls and they're all pretending that they're shops. I suppose that familiar yellow square is meant to be the counter now.
|Final Fantasy (NES)|
Next I guess I should go interrogate the peaceful townsfolk until one of them reveals where the next part of plot is hidden.
To be honest, I'm surprised I've made it all the way up here without a single random encounter.
Battles play out from first person view and I get four commands to chose from each turn. Only Fight and Run do anything right now though and I've only got the one hero in my party so I only get the one move each go. Pretty basic really.
I think my calculations were a little off earlier, cause I'm gonna need a lot more trips to the inn before I get my sword. Still, I've reached level 2, woo.
But, I can see the stairs. I'm looking at stairs right now! Oh right, I don't need the Stairs command here, because I can just walk over steps on the overworld to automatically use them. Unlike staircases inside a building which MUST ONLY BE ACCESSED WITH THE COMMAND PROVIDED.
I'm level 3 now by the way. Still no sword, but I have earned a free HEAL spell which can recover a fair chunk of health at the cost of most of my mana. Without any items to recover MP, I only get the one shot each trip.
At least there's no enemies down here. Yet.
Whoever wrote the tablet in ages past seems to have been pretty confident that I'll be the first person to ever find it, which is impressive considering I had zero reason to come down here except for curiosity. The tablet explains that I'll need three items to reach the Isle of Dragons, and that they are guarded by three worthy keepers whom I shall need to seek out.
And then... that's it. Obviously the guy couldn't tell me names as the original keepers would be long dead by now, but a map would've been handy. Or I dunno, he could have TOLD ME WHAT THE ITEMS ARE. 'Yeah you'll need three things guarded by three people, so good luck with that'.
And that's the story of the time I made my way to the bottom of a labyrinth in the dark. Now I just have to get back out again.
SOME TIME LATER.
I've been talking to the townpeople too, hoping to find out if anyone knows anything about the items mentioned on the tablet, but sadly there's no 'ask something useful' command on my menu, so the best I've gotten out of them is a warning about bridges.
Actually maybe I should do a bit more grinding before I see what's over there. I mean I'm sure there's other places I could go check out first. I never did reach that town on the north coast for instance.
Aw fuck it, I'm going over the bridge. I'm level 4 now, I've unlocked HURT magic, I'm a fucking badass, I'm sure I can take whatever they've got to throw at me.
With any luck this town will have an inn to rest at and maybe some affordable weapons. I've kind of given up on that 180G copper sword for now because it's taken me forever just to earn 102 coins. It really does seem to take a while to get anywhere in this.
King Lorik's kind of like the dad in EarthBound now that I think about it, there to tell me how far I am from my next level up and to record my progress so far... in his Imperial Scrolls of Honor. He's been writing down everything I do, so they must basically read like an ancient version of Super Adventures right now, except with less swearing and more words like 'thou' and 'dost'.
Wait, does that say 35G? What the fuck happened to all my money? I'm sure I had... back when I... oh shit, I must have lost half my cash to pay for the resurrection. Well shit, now I'm buying even more HERBs, because I'm not letting that happen again.
A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF GRINDING LATER.
Oh. It seems to lead to a hole.
I hate to do this, but I'm going to look for a map online and see if there really isn't a way to get to them.
So far the most noticable difference between this and Final Fantasy 1 hasn't been the graphics and the battle system I reckon. It's been the fact that everything I do in this bloody game seems to take forever and be absolutely pointless in the end. I must have been playing this for at least two hours and all I have to show for it is a ring that may or may not do absolutely fuck all, and a tablet that told me I need to find 'things' guarded by 'people'.
Oh fuck it, if a 1000G suit of armour isn't strong enough for this place I can't be bothered grinding until I'm ready. I can't even just run through all the fights this time, as they've been attacking first before I got my turn. So that's it, I'm done with the game.
Dragon Warrior actually gets a lot of the fundamentals right I think. Going around slaying slimes and earning cash for better gear is a formula that works and has become the basic foundation of the JRPG genre. Plus it's great to be able go wandering across half the world right from the get go, something I've always appreciated about the Elder Scrolls games. But I never got any sense of achievement from anything I did, I didn't help anyone or find any quests to complete. I was just searching for crap in dark caves and making my numbers go bigger so I could cross more bridges and find other crap in other caves. It seems to be built around grinding to a degree that even other classic JRPGs would find 'a bit excessive'.
I do still like the original NES Final Fantasy, but this one's a bit too basic and a bit too much work for me. I couldn't find the fun in it.
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