Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I have a soft spot for Dragon Quest. Even as I sit here at work, there is a chrome metal slime staring at me between my monitors. He sits there silently judging me, with that mocking little smile that only metal slimes can pull off. His expression clearly says “I am going to fireball you once then bolt before you can kill me”. You smug yet xp-filled monster you.
It was always this way. Back in the earliest days of the NES (which was a Tuesday btw), there were several staple games that everyone had to own. Games such as SMB, Contra, and Blades of Steel were always playing late into many a summer night in my neighborhood. Then Nintendo dropped the atomic bomb known as Dragon Warrior. My copy came to me FREE by way of a subscription to a brand new magazine called Nintendo Power.
This game was like a first shot of heroin to drug users. It was mind blowing and addictive. I couldn’t stop playing this game. Later when Nintendo published Final Fantasy the NES RPG fans suddenly became split between the two competing games(and companies at the time). It wasn’t until much later when Square purchase Enix that the two games came under friendly terms. That aside, I always stayed with the Dragon Warrior camp.
While this was not the first RPG I played, I think this was the first time I actively made a choice that I was going to do everything to try and beat the game. RPGs before that always seemed way over my head. But Dragon Warrior’s gameplay in its 1989 August release just made sense to my 12 year old brain. It clicked. Imagine me, sitting there at 12 just a month before this game trying to understand the mechanics of Might and Magic 2 on my dad’s (brand new) color iMac. If you sat the two games next to each other you can clearly see the polished, almost cartoon-like appeal of Dragon Warrior at face value.
At this point, just accept that I have played so much of this game that I plastered my walls as a kid with Dragon Warrior posters. Finding extremely hard to gain at the time nuggets of release data about Dragon Warrior 2-4 games was epic moments of my childhood. I remember begging my mom to purchase international postage so I could snail mail Enix about details of Dragon Warrior 4 when I saw it appear in the “Coming soon” section of Nintendo Power. Back then there was no internet. You kids have NO idea how hard core it was back in the day getting gaming news. God do I sound like a geezer now ha ha.
So as the games progressed I saved every cent I could muster, doing odd jobs and chore to get money towards buying the newest Dragon Warrior releases. I believe the last one on NES (4) was upwards of $99+ which to an early pre-job teenager in the early 90’s was nearly insurmountable. The pain of waiting till Christmas was unlivable. I bought that game with my own money, and still have it and the box to this day practically sealed in museum quality preservation. Yet, Enix went dark when the SNES took off. They never ported any of the DQ 5 or 6 over to SNES, and then silently released 7 on PS1. It was like the ring of power that fell into the river thanks to that idiot Isildur, the game series to me faded from all memory and seemed lost forever.
Then year and years later Gollum, er… I mean Game Boy Advanced found the series and once again it became an exciting thing. They redid the entire series 1-3 on GBA as two releases and they rocked! Sure hardcore fans will argue left and right about the porting process, but ultimately lets all agree on one huge fact: we can replay the games without having to blow on cartridge!
I played those several times through, like a yearly re-reading of the Lord of the Rings. It was comfort food. Yet even on portability of the GBA system, there were faults that still prevents easy play. For one, you had to drag around that clunky device that took endless batteries. Also there is that whole no back-light issue. But I stomached the problems just so I could play these games.
About 2 weeks back I was talking with someone at work about each other’s “must have games if you were to be exiled to a desert island” and I said “God I wish you could play DQ on iPhone someday. On a whim I searched the app store and I heard angels singing. Hazza! Not only did they have DQ1, but DQ 2-6 and 8. My whole year was wrecked at that point. I forgot who I was for a few hours. Cats and Dogs started sleeping together, it was mass hysteria.
I bought DQ1 and played it several hours that night. I wore out the battery on my 4 day old iPhone 6s Plus. It was awesome.
Eventually I decided to dial back the obsession and just play causally here and there, utilizing the easy to use in-game-save-anywhere feature. Even the goofy d-pad controls became second nature after the first night’s play. 1 hour into the game it makes sense WHY they had the gall to play the game in portrait format vs landscape. You can play (and I did) the entire game one handed. Every problem I have read critics complain about really are not that bad once you get used to them. Just the mere fact that at any second of my day if I am stuck somewhere for more than 3 minutes I can just whip out my iPhone (its on Android also before some hater chimes in) and play a few minutes, or even seconds, is enough for me.
Welcome back Dragon Quest. You have been missed in my life. #hugs
TLDR Version: Its $3…just buy it.