The first Dragon Quest is also the interestingly the worst Dragon Quest. Don’t get me wrong, I actually do like the game quite a bit and its innovation cannot be understated. DQI is the first Japanese roleplaying game, merging together elements of western and eastern game design philosophies to produce a title like no one has seen before. The game incorporates an open world design and forces players to piece together clues to eventually work your way to the end boss.
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It doesn’t hold your hand even a step of the way and overall the game is extremely experimental in nature, with a lot of tedious elements being present including only one save point being present in the game world and a seriously clunky menu system. Thankfully, the developers behind the game know how to learn from their mistakes, so the franchise only improves from here. The next game is probably the strangest entry on the list for a number of reasons. Dragon Quest X is the only entry on the list that is not a single player role-playing game. It is actually an MMO and so far has only ever released in Japan.
I had to jump through a few hoops to play it including getting a little program that automatically translates the Japanese text to English and let me tell you, I am a bit skeptical on how accurate this is. “Weird stuff” Uhhh Overall, the game hardly feels like a mainline Dragon Quest game, it’s more of a spinoff to be honest. In DQX you do loot quests, raids with friends and there’s even a bit of story to the game. I’m ranking it low because it is just so different than the main games and I probably only enjoyed it more than DQI, but for an MMO it is quite good and if it ever comes out in English, I would definitely get a membership.
Dragon Quest VI. It’s a game that took forever to make its way to the west. Originally a Super Famicom game, it got its English Nintendo DS remake over fifteen years later improving the game in many ways. The game sees a hero who has to travel between alternate realities, meeting new party members to eventually face off against the evil Murdaw. It is quite a good game, but overall, out of the DS Dragon Quest games I’d say it’s the worst of the bunch and widely considered a black sheep among the fanbase.
There’s just nothing overly remarkable about it, the story is just decent, the party members actually feel a bit flat with less companion dialogue than DQV had and it just does not shine as brightly as IV, V and IX do which is why I’m ranking it a bit lower. Dragon Quest II comes right off the heels of the first game and immediately you can tell it is far improved. It still follows largely the same formula as the first game, with cryptic hints leading you to explore a game world that truly feels open.
The world is huge, fun to explore in any direction you want and so many elements from the first game have been fixed including multiple save points, a more content filled world with more variety in equipment and multiple party members. The game is a great sequel that really paves the way for the series. Dragon Quest III is an iconic classic. Serving as the origin story of the series legendary hero, Erdrick, Dragon Quest III is an epic adventure in an open world that massively improves upon its two predecessors. The game features a day and night cycle, the new class system which gives players thousands of possible combinations and it introduces a new party system which allows the player to name and create multiple characters with different classes that come with their own strengths and weaknesses.
It’s a revolutionary game that serves as the refinement of the series and it truly feels like a role playing adventure, with players really needing to think about every choice they make going forward. The game also improves the narrative of the series greatly, boasting a very well thought out story involving Erdrick’s quest to defeat the evil Baramos. This strong focus on the narrative helps bring the world to life and the game still retains much of the investigative gameplay that the series is known for. The GameBoy Color remake makes the original NES classic even better. This is one GameBoy game that should not be missed.
Dragon Quest IX. This is the only game on the entire list that is available exclusively on only one system, the Nintendo DS and it is the last Dragon Quest game developed by Level-5 . The game is one of, if not the most visually and mechanically impressive DS games I’ve ever seen. It features full animated cutscenes, 3D graphics and a massive world. The game also made many changes for the series, discarding the random monster encounters in favor of having monsters out on the field.
The game follows a Celestrian, an angel like being, who falls to Earth and has to make his or her way back to the observatory. The game is very unique in that for the first time in the series, you can fully customize your characters down to how they look, their gender, and even the clothes they wear. Armor and weapons actually change the appearance of your character this time around, ensuring that no two people have the same characters. In addition, the game brings back the same party system of Dragon Quest III, which I actually am not a huge fan of for this game. Many people note that because you make your own party members with custom classes, names and looks, they lose out on having companions with personalities.
The companions in the game feel like empty husks and they do not talk to you, unlike the DS remakes of IV, V, and VI which feature unique story companions with interesting personalities that talk to you whenever you want to. This system was okay back when DQIII was out, but this kind of party system is a bit outdated at this point. Regardless of this, the game overall is extremely good, featuring an epic story, soundtrack, and even multiplayer options. It really showed off what the DS was capable of and will prove as a good reason to go back to the system. Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen.
It’s not just a name, the game is split up into chapters. DQIV, originally on the NES and later remade on the DS in an unfinished state and once again remade on mobile devices in a finished state, is a game that kicked off the Zenithian trilogy of the games including V and VI. The game is structured in a very unique way, focusing on multiple different characters from around the world.
You play as these different characters and learn their story, gradually leading up to everyone meeting up to defeat the evil Psaro the Manslayer. The game extremely cool because of the way it builds up the various characters you eventually meet and at times feels like multiple games in one. There’s tons of party members too and they all have unique abilities, making for a diverse lineup. Earlier I said the game was incomplete on the DS.
I really meant the localization was incomplete. The English version of Dragon Quest IV on the DS removes one of the coolest features of the franchise, party chat. Party chat basically works by pressing the B button whenever you want to talk to your companions and they will say something unique almost every time depending on the situation you are in, really making them feel like people.
Without this feature, thousands of lines of dialogue were lost, which is a huge shame because this is a game with so many great characters with great personalities and you won’t be able to even talk to them, however luckily the mobile port completed the game and gives us all of this party chat dialogue. It is identical to the DS version in every other way so it is the best version of the game for Westerners. If you have a phone, and yes you do, pick this one up. This is the one everyone knows about. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the PlayStation 2.
Dragon Quest VIII follows a band of four adventurers tracking down a wicked Jester to undo a curse on an entire kingdom. The game’s visuals are timeless. It’s a PS2 game, but it looks fantastic, with cel shaded visuals really bringing out the art style of Akira Toriyama. The game even has fully voiced scenes in the English version and is the only game in the series so far to have this. Dragon Quest VIII presentation is what really sets it apart and its story, full cutscenes and the interactions between its many characters bring it to life.
It introduces some new mechanics as well including the ability to psyche up, the new skill point system that allows different paths for weapon types and an alchemy pot to create new items and weapons with. The skill paths are especially great as they allow for so many different play styles, which brings me back to this game again and again. That’s not to say that it’s a perfect game, the battles are a bit slow to accommodate the flashy animations and you’re working with only four different companions, which is a lot less than most games in the series, leading to a less diverse team but when it comes down to the game’s massively improved presentation all while maintaining the feel of the series, I would say that this is a huge step for the franchise and one of the finest games on the PS2. Imagine a game that takes over a hundred hours to beat.
With thousands of lines of dialogue and tons of story to get through. That’s what Dragon Quest VII is. Originally released on the original PlayStation and nicely remade on the 3DS, Dragon Quest VII represents a huge turning point for the series.
The game stars a trio of kids who travel back in time to restore forgotten parts of the world. It’s a super mysterious game and is very notorious for a two hour long intro section in which you complete very challenging puzzles reminiscent of the game Myst and along the journey you meet more characters than you can remember. The game is just huge, boasting one of gaming’s largest scripts with over 70,000 lines of dialogue, and it introduces my absolute favorite feature in the Dragon Quest series, the Party Chat feature, which works well to hear the comments of Kiefer and Maribel who both have defining personalities.
In addition to just how massive the game is, it ramps up the investigative aspect of the time travel in the game requiring the players to seriously think at times and piece together the next objective without being told exactly what to do. The new class system is also really great, allowing you to change the classes of you and your companions while maintaining their personalities. Overall, its the definition of a hidden gem and definitely the PS1’s swan song. Dragon Quest V is the best game in the entire franchise.
Its a title that takes everything good about Dragon Quest and puts it into one package. The game is about family, friendship, and good versus evil. The story follows one hero’s transition from childhood to adulthood where he journeys to save his mother from the clutches of the underworld.
It’s an epic, emotional tale with extremely well written characters and a living, breathing world that is constantly changing around you as the years go by in the game. It also introduces many new aspects to the series including the ability to recruit monsters you’ve fought into your already bustling party that includes a wife that you choose yourself as well as many friends you meet across the journey. The characters in Dragon Quest V are so well written that you can feel a bond between them and the protagonist and the Party Chat feature in this title is the most robust so far, with your party members having something to say after almost any situation or talking to any NPC you meet. There is so much attention to detail put into Dragon Quest V its ridiculous and it ends up being the most enjoyable entry in the series to me, with every feature one could want, an extremely diverse group of multiple interesting party members and an epic story where you find new locations on your journey to defeat the franchise’s most evil villain yet.
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