Dragon Quest is one of the first few known RPGs back then, created by Enix (now Square Enix, after joining forces with Squaresoft). It was a decent RPG for its time along with Final Fantasy, but DQ didn’t have as much recognition in the US (DQ was renamed Dragon Warrior in its US release) compared to FF, and was an underrated game. Today, ever since the merging of Enix and Squaresoft, DQ games started to gain popularity in the west little by little as they were able to reintroduce old DQ titles by remaking it for certain consoles and, very recently, for handhelds.
For all of you who didn’t know, DQ is one of my all-time favorite RPGs, the reason being that it was actually the FIRST role-playing game I ever played, and I grew to like it much more than FF, which I only learned about around the late 90’s. Because of that, even though there are now new DQ titles available, I still love the original series of DQ, which is also known as the Roto (Erdrick in the US version) Saga.
The Erdrick/Roto Trilogy
The first three DQ games cover the Erdrick Saga, essentially making it a trilogy. The series basically tells of the story of warrior descendants of Erdrick fighting evil in the land of the Alefgard Kingdom, which was the main setting of the game and later sequels. In the story, Erdrick was a legendary hero who freed the Kingdom of Alefgard from darkness. Main characters in the game are referred to as Erdrick’s descendants. Erdrick’s legend was revealed in Dragon Quest III, the final part of the trilogy.
Dragon Quest I
The story here revolves around a land called the Kingdom of Alefgard. It starts Tantegel Castle. The king calls upon the descendant of Erdrick (namely you) to journey to Charlock Castle to defeat the evil Dragonlord and reclaim the Ball of Light, which the Dragonlord had stolen, to restore the peace to the land. The hero will also have to rescue Princess Gwaelin, the king’s daughter who was abducted and held captive by a dragon in a cave located far away.
DQ I was a very simple RPG with very basic RPG elements, so basic that you might think you can actually do better if you created your own RPG in RPG Maker. Its battle system was also very simple. Monster encounters were only 1:1, but the simplicity of its battle system became one of the game’s trademarks, which they also applied to future DQ games. Because it was so basic, the game has its fair share of grinding to level-up and buy equipment, so that you can keep up with the adventure.
Dragon Quest II
Set a hundred years after the first DQ, a new evil has appeared by the name of Hargon, an evil wizard who started attacking the Moonbrooke Kingdom. One soldier of Moonbrooke had managed to survive long enough to travel towards the Kingdom of Midenhall and tell everything to its king. After being informed of what happened, he ordered his son, the prince of Midenhall and a descendant of Erdrick to travel and defeat the evil wizard. As the prince travels, he is joined by his two cousins: the prince of Cannock, a neighboring kingdom, and the princess of Moonbrooke, who was cursed after her kingdom was attacked, but is later freed from it with the help of the two princes. Both cousins also share the same bloodline as Erdrick. Together, they travel the world to stop the evil wizard Hargon.
DQ II shares the same elements of the first DQ with some improvements. Graphics are much improved here. You can now command three characters to each have its own preferences. Monster encounters now spawn a number of monsters instead than just one. The world of DQ II is much bigger, allowing for travel from land to land, and also across the sea using a ship. Overall RPG gameplay was still basic, but expanded enough to give players a more solid RPG experience.
Dragon Quest III
DQ III is the prequel and the final story of the Erdrick series. When Aliahan’s hero, Ortega, fell in battle with the evil fiend Baramos, who is threatening to destroy the world, all their hopes are passed down to his only son: you the main character. When he turned 16, the king of Aliahan summons and gives him the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps to be the hero who will save the world from Baramos. The new hero of Aliahan travels the world along with hired warriors towards the castle of the evil fiend, but later realizes that saving the world is just a small part of the quest. A greater one was still to come.
DQ III was the most expanded DQ game among the three. It presented a whole new and much bigger world to explore. The game now allowed you to form a party with up to four members and let you choose from a variety of characters with different job classes. You can now save/store your money, items and equipment at certain storage shops available at the start of the game. The interface and battle system are still pretty much faithful to the standard DQ style. It was still basic as always but the many new features thrown in still made it worth playing.
DQ probably may not be the most engaging RPG you could play, but the traditional RPG style is something that separates it from other RPGs. It has its share of charm because of its not-so complicated story that might be too generic for some, but totally works all the way. To think that the character designs were done by the famous Toriyama Akira, of Dragon Ball fame.
I personally love DQ III because of its expanded gameplay and also because of my ever-so-geeky tendency to follow the story of an RPG all the way to how its legend started, which made the story of DQ III interesting to me. If you’re looking for a much simpler yet very good retro RPG other than Final Fantasy, then I would recommend you playing these first three DQ games, l and of course I would also recommend you to try DQ IV to VII and even the recent titles DQ VIII and the recently-released DQ IX. So that’s it for now.