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Game of The Week
Dragon Warrior - By Scott Miller

Dragon Warrior LogoSquare and Enix, Enix and Square. Today Square is the RPG king, releasing big-budget FMV extravaganzas that happen to be wildly overrated, while Enix trudges along, looking for anything that might give them a hit. Platform games, dancing games (ugh), the occasional RPG; you name it, they've done it.

It wasn't always this way. Back in the mid-80s, it was Enix that did all the hot RPGs, and Square was the tiny company trying anything to get a hit (they even did some platform games for the Famicom Disc Drive through a subsidiary called Dog, which was a good indicator of the quality of said games).

Game description:

Dragon Warrior ScreenshotIn olden days of yore, the realm of Alefgard was cloaked in darkness. According to legend, a brave warrior, Edrick, brought light back to the land by defeating an evil being. He used the Ball of Light bequeathed to him by a friend to drive off the enemies of Alefgard. He then gave the Ball of Light to King Lorik, who unified Alefgard. The land was at peace for many generations. In the time of King Lorik XVI, the Ball of Light were stolen from Tantegel Castle by the evil Dragonlord, and once again the Kingdom of Alefgard was plunged into darkness. Many travelers fell prey to the merciless fangs of monsters, and the beautiful was transformed into poisonous swamps that hindered travelers. It was also rumored that several Towns and Villages were destroyed; wiped off the face of the land by Ghosts & Dragons.

Many brave warriors tried to recover the Ball of Light, but none of them returned from Charlock, the Dragonlord's dark castle. The people longed for peace, but did not give up hope. The great Seer Mahetta predicted that "One day, a descendent of the valiant Edrick shall come forth to defeat the Dragonlord."

Who is this brave soul? There is only one possible answer.


Your quest is to find and defeat the Dragonlord. The time has come. This is the start of your adventure.

Dragon Warrior ScreenshotDragon Warrior (originally Dragon Quest) came out for the American NES in 1988. It may not have been the first RPG on some kind of game-playing device (RPGs had been around for a while already on home PCs), but it set the basic standards for almost every console RPG since. You've got your experience points, your spells, your random fights all over the world map. There's a battery-backed memory; along with Zelda, this was one of the first games to have BRAM. You get to name your hero. Even the basic set-up of shopping and exploring was pretty much invented here (you have your Inn to heal in, your Weapon and Item shops, generic palette-swapped NPCs that wander around aimlessly in towns whose only purpose in life is to speak to you, etc., etc., etc.). It was pretty popular at the time. Nintendo came up with the novel idea at one point of giving copies away with subscriptions to Nintendo Power, and Haim "Power Rangers" Saban even licensed a Japanese Dragon Quest cartoon for US broadcast in 1990 (if you blinked, you probably missed it; it was off the air within six months in most markets because most stations buried it on Sunday mornings when nobody would be awake to watch it).

So, how does it play? Well, it's extremely simple--you can attack, use a spell, or run. You have ten spells, at least--healing, attack, effect, and escape spells, mostly, although you get one spell which allows you to explore caves without having to go all over the damn place trying to find a torch.

The game's system is a little clunky and odd in places--you have to walk over things to pick them up, you can't open any door without a key, and there are specific commands in the menu to make your hero walk down the stairs and/or open doors (yes, folks, the hero needs to be commanded to walk down a flight of stairs; he's apparently too stupid to do it on his own).

Dragon Warrior ScreenshotAnother "feature" of the game is the odd language of the translation. Everyone speaks with "thou"s and "thee"s in an attempt to impress players with an Authentic Medieval Atmosphere; it can be charming, but it also gets annoying whenever you just want to save and the king decides to unload the same monologue on you that you've already heard 453 times.

The story is simple and not much to write home about (lots of stuff involving a kidnapped princess, which must be the most overused cliché in all of gaming, and an evil town-leveling villain), the graphics very much fit the early-NES standard (simple, sometimes attractive, sometimes not), and the game is kind of easy and short. On the other hand, even if it doesn't match, say, Phantasy Star in terms of quality, it's still a basically good game, and it deserves your attention, if only to see what Square had to borrow from in the first place.

Download the: NES Dragon Warrior ROM
Download the: Dragon Warrior Manual
Emulator used: NESticle

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Comments (1):

Posted by stinger92blue at 2008-04-20 16:16:36    
Was a very good game. would like to replay it again. I just can't find a game download and emulater for the pc running WINXP pro.

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