March 15, 2018 at 1:07 pm #27394
Retro Dragon Quest: Not What I Remembered
I’m old enough to have been around in the 1980’s to play many video games when they first were published. I went through lots of games on several consoles, early handhelds, and early computers. Several of these games bring back warm memories to me, so when I recently saw an android remake of the first Dragon Quest (from 1986), I rushed to play it. I know I played several games in the Dragon Quest series, but I’m not certain I played this first one (even though I had a Japanese Famicom and several Japanese games).
Putting aside the retro graphics, less than modern controls, and the changes that make the android remake less challenging than the original, how entertaining is the game play? In a word…awful. I’ll note a few of the weak game elements below, but the main issue is the lack of opportunity player choice, in either tactics, equipment, classes, or anything at all. The following list of game features will provide a starting point to explain how Dragon Quest is just tap tap tap with no thought involved.
- no tradeoff for weapons–if you can afford it, buy it
- no difficulty setting
- no teleport except to home base (castle)
- no logs or lists
- NPC’s don’t contribute to the story
- no subquests
- no class or job change, no assignment of points
- no post/bonus game
- minimal scene at game end
- no open world, completely linear structure
- it can be difficult to know what to do next (you should write down all the NPC hints)
- only 1 playable character, no buddies or party
- only 1 monster per battle
- no minimaps (but not needed)
- extremely scare metal monsters (I only encountered 3)
- no way to speed up grinding (but not a problem)
- few battle options:attack, heal, bigger heal, sleep, seal, flee, magic attack, bigger magic attack
The limited number of options in battle are even less flexible than it might appear. Except for a few early battles, and the final monster, I only used “attack” and “heal.” With only 1 character and 1 monster, you don’t have to decide about battle order or party configuration, so just tap the attack button and once in awhile the heal button. If the monster is too strong for you, your only recourse is to grind to increase your level. Almost all increases in your character attributes come from leveling up, as there are only a few consumables to increase stats, and they are all found only in treasures and hiding places (you cannot purchase them). The good (??) news is that in the latter stages of the game you can grind to sufficient levels in just 1-2 hours.
So Dragon Quest has no story, no character development, minimal dialog, and no opportunity for the player to make choices or devise tactics. Even the most modest (and free) modern Kemco games offer more entertainment and engagement than this relic from the early days of video games. It makes me sad to think that the glow of memory from playing games 30 years ago has obscured just how limited many of those oldies but not goodies really were.
Older, but not wiser
March 15, 2018 at 5:32 pm #27395EXE Robo Grand TankerParticipant
- This topic was modified 1 month ago by 1oldtymer.
It’s actually funny that you wrote this, as I’ve been reading up and looking in to the Dragon Quest series myself.
Though rather than jumping on on the first, I read some suggestions on various sites and youtube videos and opted to download DG5 first, which is said to be a good starting point for newbies on mobile. Everything you wrote about DQ1, rather than being shocking or saddening, seemed to be completely right, since DQ1 was an innovator, first of its kind, and a highly cut down and simplified game. According to what I have read, DQ1 is cut down so much because they were just introducing the concept of the RPG to the Japanese mass market, rather than the techies that adored them already. As such, a lot of the options, story development, and everything else that’s been attached to JRPGs was not present, just a barebones system.
This video series by Mr Gentleman does a really good job at explaining the context of DQ1, and other early RPGs, and I recommend those curious about old games like that. He can get pretty gushy about the games in this series though, and you can especially feel how hyped he is for Dragon Quest 3 and Ys I&II.March 15, 2018 at 6:23 pm #27402MSG CommanderKeymaster
I actually played this game a few months ago for the first time (never played any other version of Dragon Quest I, so it really was my first exposure to the series).
I found it to be really enjoyable, pretty much because of all the reasons listed. I liked that there was only 1 party member, because it made me pay closer attention to making sure I didn’t die. 😛 (Even though if you do, you’re teleported back to the throne room – I think?)
I also liked that there were only a few choices for equipment, and only a handful of “battle” spells and “field” spells. Meant I didn’t have to pay too much attention to all sorts of different options; just “Is this armor better than what I currently have? Then I’ll buy it.”
I did read somewhere that the mobile version was made “less grindy” than the console version – and personally, I was thankful for that, as I tend to view mobile games as being more “entertainment” and less “I have to really think/work hard to beat this game.” (It does depend on the game, though. Sometimes I like a good challenge in the game, but “extra grinding” isn’t exactly challenging; it’s more like frustrating…)
I didn’t like that there was NO indication of “where to go next.” I had to use a gamefaqs walkthrough just to know where to go (and I don’t remember which one I used, or I’d post the link, but if I can find it I’ll update this message).
But, to me, it was a nice change of pace from the standard mobile RPGs.
Though, I would suspect that most gamers today would probably see it more as 1oldtymer does. It’s certainly not “amazing” by today’s standards, and by and large you’re not really gonna miss anything if you never play it…March 15, 2018 at 9:58 pm #27404
I forgot that “what to do next” was an issue (that number of paces one was nasty). So I added it to my list.
Older, but not wiserMarch 15, 2018 at 11:29 pm #27406inkwarriorParticipant
I never did finish that particular game. Yes, I am old enough to not only have played but OWNED (well, still own) the original, as well as a working NES (not the more updated remakes, but a bona fide original console). And yes, the grinding was so tedious for me as well I had to resort to Game Genie codes just to cut it down a few notches, though any of the codes had the side effect of me unintentionally clearing a sidequest that I wanted to clear myself.
Anyway, the first Dragon Quest is surely not -that- interesting by today’s standards. While Square-Enix were originally two separate companies, this version was Enix’s first foray into RPGs. This was released one year before the very first Final Fantasy, released by rival company Square (it came out after the second DQ game was released). After THAT came out, Enix began to take storyline and character development more seriously, and it shows from the third game onwards.
Out of all the early Dragon Quest games I’ve played, the one I prefer the most (and one I actually finished) is the fourth one, and the last one released for the original NES. That one has a multi-chaptered storyline and one of the greatest of its time, in my opinion.
Gone are the days when we even had time to waste for RPG grinding levels… well, to the many-hours extent of the late 80s, I mean.March 15, 2018 at 11:43 pm #27407
Yes, the later DQ games were very good. I no longer have a NES, or any of the other consoles, but I still own my original low-serial number Atari Lynx I got for my son for Christmas 1989. And still lots of carts for it.
Older, but not wiserMarch 16, 2018 at 12:00 am #27408
You’re right but as everyone knows Remakes are not a new game most of the time, it’s usually the same game as it was first released (well, Final Fantasy old games like 1&2 got additional things at different Remakes on each console.
Dragon Quest 1 was the first of the series and at that time it was an awesome game (and it’s still as good as it was) and I played all of them up to DQ 9 for DS. I think that Dragon Sinker was partially based on early Dragon Quest games but it’s not an old game (if it had less characters, skills and story we would see it’s almost as Dragon Quest).
It’s a classic RPG game and no one could expect a very complex game from it. Games were usually made harder to get player spend more time at beating it.
Overall every Dragon Quest game is good if we won’t think about how new RPG games are made (basically if a game hasn’t got sidequests and challenging post-game content the game won’t even be considered an RPG unless the story is excellent while old games were as hard as they could be (currently hard games are getting famous just because of that fact like Dark Souls series but every time you lose you learn something new to see the weakness or opportunity to strike).
*note that it’s my personal opinion and I respect everyone’s thoughts about the game because it was made a long time ago.
XV Member of the Organization XIII, The Heartless Angel.
God Of War 4 is awesome. 10/10.March 16, 2018 at 1:29 pm #27417LemmyTheLennyParticipant
Thankfully, The Later NES iterations of dragon quest become better over time with Dragon Quest IV being it’s peak featuring many stories to play through as well as the sidequests and the casinos.
We don't make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.April 20, 2018 at 12:38 am #27874famouscrystal1417Participant
D**n,we returned to the past
This one is telling the
2.lies(truth)April 20, 2018 at 7:49 am #27875
Yeah, it’s a classic and good game 🙂 (I didn’t play any DQ games on Android but I did on other platforms like old good PS2 or DS (I love VIII and IX).
XV Member of the Organization XIII, The Heartless Angel.
God Of War 4 is awesome. 10/10.
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