Dragon Warrior

Dragon Warrior USA Rev A 188x266 Dragon Warrior NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper:
 Chun Soft

 August 1989
US Cartridge ID: NES-DQ-USA

Players:  1
Genre: RPG
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 640 kilobit
Mapper: MMC1 (64k PRG, 16k CHR)

Requires Flash10

The kingdom of Alefgard has known peace for many generations, thanks to the legendary warrior Erdrick’s heroic deeds. Having fallen into shadow, Alefgard was overrun by an unspeakable evil. Erdrick, using the orbs of light, fought to restore balance and prosperity to the land. Gifting King Lorik, the beloved ruler who unified Alefgard, with this light, the Dragon Warrior USA 002 256x224 Dragon Warrior NES Nintendo Review Screenshotkingdom flourished, history became myth,  and Alefgard remained untouched by war for
many years. During the rule of King Lorik XVI, a new evil emerges: Dragonlord, lord of Charlock Castle, steals the orbs of light, and history repeats; innocents are slain, cities are destroyed, and the land is polluted by evil. The people’s only hope lies in finding a hero than can overcome Dragonlord, a man with Erdrick’s blood in his veins.

The player, as this hero, must travel the land of Alefgard, battling monsters, surveying caves and ruins, and talking with townspeople for important information. The primary way of interacting with the world is through a pop-up menu, which must be accessed to do anything of import, including speaking with people, casting spells, and opening doors. The land is explored via an overhead perspective, and places of interest (towns, castles, dungeons) can be entered by stepping on a representative icon. People in towns can provide hints about what needs done next, information on different people, and sell important items (weapons, armor, healing herbs, etc).  The main world map and the dungeons provide opportunities for the hero to become stronger: as he walks, he will often encounter monsters at random, switching the game to a first-person view of the attacker.  Battles are controlled through another menu system, and all action is conveyed through a scrolling text box at the bottom of the screen.

Dragon Warrior, one of the most influential games ever released, introduced the western Dragon Warrior USA 095 256x224 Dragon Warrior NES Nintendo Review Screenshotworld to the Japanese role-playing game. The vanguard of development within the genre on consoles, Dragon Warrior established the confluence of ideas and mechanics that would ultimately become synonymous with the term JRPG.  It was not, however, a commercial success when it originally was released in America, and due to the number of unsold cartridges Nintendo had on hand, a promotion was run giving away a near half-million copies as a bonus for buying a subscription to Nintendo Power.  Though the game didn’t earn much, the promotion popularized the name and paved the way for future RPGs, including English releases of the three NES Dragon Warrior sequels.

The timing of the American release of Dragon Warrior was unfortunate for the game. The original Japanese version came out in 1986, and it was not an impressive spectacle, even when it was new. The US version improved the graphics significantly, but they still looked extremely dated for a 1989 release. The music composition is extremely good, though its Dragon Warrior USA 039 256x224 Dragon Warrior NES Nintendo Review Screenshotin-game synthesis sounds tinny and hollow compared to its late 80’s contemporaries. The battle system is intuitive, quick, and fun, though quickly becomes annoying due to the amount that the player is required to ”grind” levels to become strong enough to survive later encounters. The story, though simple and linear, drives the game well, and the endearing use of faux Shakespearean English gives the game a lot of character.

Dragon Warrior is a dated but incredibly fun look at the origins of the console RPG, and rightly deserves its status as a landmark game.

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flag us Dragon Warrior NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDragon Warrior
Nintendo, 8/1989
ドラゴンクエスト (Doragon Kuesuto)flag jpn Dragon Warrior NES Nintendo Review Screenshot
Dragon Quest
Enix, 5/1986