Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure or playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with Chapters of the Chosen for the DS. I couldnít help wondering why I had never played a game in this series before. Iím always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how Iíd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics. Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since before I was born. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, Iíve set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entryÖ on the NES. Iíve spent months lurking around eBay, and Iíve amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.
If youíve played any of the games Iíll be talking about, Iíd appreciate your comments as I donít know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.
Part Six: Dragon Quest I Continued...
The last time I wrote, I had pretty much just started Dragon Warrior for the NES. I spent a long time puttering around the world map, fighting slimes & drakees for minimal experience and dying too many times to count. I decided to get the game rolling when I made it to level four and, armed with only a wooden club and a cloth shirt, I headed towards my first destination Ö
In the desert directly north of Tantegel Castle, I found the entrance to Erdrickís Cave. Once inside, I lit a torch so I could see a small perimeter around myself and cautiously navigated the stone maze until I found a staircase leading down farther. Once below, I realized that I hadnít fought a single battle; there were no enemies in this cave! I found a treasure chest containing a stone tablet that revealed to me that I was the descendant of Erdrick and that I must find three magical itemsóEntrusted to three wise menóin order to face the Dragonlord. After checking for any more treasure chests (of which there were none), I emerged from the cave and returned to the castle to save.
After resting and saving the game, I made my way to both Garinham and Kol. Why? Well, because the included Warriorís Handbook told me to! Iím not really sure what the purpose was, though. The two towns didnít have much that Brecconary didnít have as well. On the other hand, after crossing the bridge that led to Kol, I did fight some tougher monsters. I even died a couple of times, but it was worth it for the experience points they left behind. I probably should have just reset the game a couple of times; I died so often that, even though I was gaining experience and getting stronger, I had hardly any money. Iíd have to fight a few battles sometimes just to have enough money buy an herb or two. After reaching Kol, I rested, bought a few Chimera Wings, and set out north-east forÖ
The Northern Cave:
Here, I found the first old man. He was candid, saying that I first had to prove myself as the descendant of Erdrick and bring him the Silver Harp before he would give me the Staff of Rain (incidentally, the first magic item). I offered a blood sample for proof, but he didnít know what to do with it. I made that last part up.
The Mountain Cave:
This was a small detour, south-east of Tantegel Castle. I went there to get the Fighterís Ring, which slightly upped my attack power. Also of note in the cave was a chest containing upwards of 100 gold. Amazingly, this chest re-spawned every time you left the cave, so I visited it about a dozen times to make up for all the gold Iíd lost before. By the time I was done, Iíd fought enough enemies to reach level eight, and I had over 1,500 gold! I went back to town, upgraded my arsenal, and headed south-west, towards Rimuldar.
The Swamp Cave & Rimuldar:
In order to reach the southern continent and eventually the town of Rimuldar, I first had to travel through the Swamp Cave (Apparently, this is the same cave where the dragon and the kidnapped Princess Gwaelin are staying, but I dare not try to face the beast now). Even though there were monsters here (I think Erdrickís cave was the only one without), it was easy enough to make it through and to the other side. As soon as I emerged on the southern continent, however, I was shocked at how much harder the enemies had become. Gone were the familiar slimes and drakees, now replaced by wolves, skeletons, and metal scorpions. I hardly made it to Rimuldar alive, but I made it there none the less.
After resting, I searched for a secret shop along the outskirts of town that sold magic keys. When in Kol, one of the soldiers told me about the shop and said that it was the cheapest place to buy magic keys. I found it and bought six of them. Then, deciding that I needed to level up and earn a lot more gold, I circled the moat-surrounded town for nearly two hours, using the heal spell liberally and stopping to rest at the inn when I got weak. When I was done, Iíd made it all the way to level ten, and I was able to buy the broadsword and the half-plate. Feeling much stronger, I headed farther south to the second wise manÖ
The Southern Cave:
The small area of land surrounding the Southern Cave had even stronger enemies. Goldmen, Wyverns, and Wolf Lords interrupted every step of the way to beat my ass. It was like hazing. I had to run from a couple of fights, but I eventually made itóbleeding and bruisedóto the cave entrance. Once inside, the old man told me that I had to prove myself as the descendant of Erdrick (Aw, him too?!), and bring him the Stones of Sunlight, the Staff f of Rain, and Erdrickís Token. With that, he kicked me out of the cave to once again face the monsters. Wow, what a douche. Iíd taken no more than a couple of steps before I was stopped by a Wraith and, once again, was beaten to death.
I awoke in front of the King at Tantegel Castle. I was pissed that I died again but I didnít bother to reset because Iíd just spent pretty much all my money on new equipment anyway; there was hardly anything left for the game to take! Better yet, turns out I was supposed to return to the castle anyway! Take that, game! With magic keys in hand, I unlocked all the doors and made my way underneath the castle to where the third old man was waiting. I spoke to him, and he just straight-up gave me the stones of sunlight! What? No task to prove my lineage? Now this is my kind of old man!
My next task was to return to Garinham, but before I did that I really wanted to stop and take the opportunity to grind a ton more. I returned to the southern continent (I have really good luck grinding there) and proceeded to kill me some monsters.
It was at this point that I think the game really clicked for me. My favorite part in any RPG is this exact moment, when you catch up with the learning curve and really get a grip on how to play the game well. It feels a lot like that part in the first Matrix movie (you know, the good one?) when Keanu Reeves realizes the power heís capable of and just starts kicking ass and taking names. I suddenly stopped dying, started memorizing enemy attack patterns, and began generally beating the shit out of my opponents while making it out without a scratch. I felt like even the game itself knew, as enemies were missing more often and I was landing critical blows at an unprecedented rate.
After showboating all over the continent, Iíd made it to about level thirteen, and Iíd made enough money to buy both the full plate & large shield, with gold to spare. Being a total badass, I flew back to Tantegel Castle and marched north forÖ
The Grave of Garinham:
Hidden behind the rear wall of a locked room in Garinham, I found the path to the grave where I would find the Silver Harp. Inside, I was faced with a four-level maze, but I wasnít worried thanks to my trusty handbook. I deftly navigated the catacombs, always taking the correct staircase and eventually making it down to the fourth level, where I obtained the harp. Hooray!
Unfortunately, I now found myself in a bit of a pickle. Although I was pretty strong, the enemies still took a hefty toll on me. Harp in hand, I didnít have enough MP to cast the exit spell (used it all up on healing spells), so I had to exit the dungeon by foot. Worse yet, my radiance spell was fading and the darkness was closing in on me. I consulted the handbook and took the quickest possible route to get out, but my spell ended just mere feet before the exit and I was left in complete darkness, without enough MP to cast another radiance spell and, foolishly, without a torch as backup. I furiously stumbled around in the pitch black trying to find the stairs that would lead out, but I was hopelessly lost. At one point, I felt surprisingly depressed when I accidentally selected ďtalkĒ from the options menu and the game said ďBen, there is no one there to talk to.Ē Figuring that it was a lost cause, I nearly reset the game to just go through the dungeon again, but I just couldnít; Iíd garnered so much gold in here that I couldnít bear to just let it all go.
It took almost half an hour of listening to when my character would bump into walls and studying the map, but I eventually did make it out of the cave. I didnít think it was possible to feel this way in a game this simplistic, but I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. For a brief moment, I was seriously on top of the world. I took the harp back to the old man in the Northern Cave, and he traded me for the Staff of Rain. It was now finally time to slay the dragon and return the princess to Tantegel Castle.
Slaying the Dragon and Rescuing Princess Gwaelin:
Enemies that I used to fear fighting would now run before a battle could even start. When I did have to battle, the match was over in a single blow. I wasnít even fighting anymore so much as just taunting the enemies and obliterating them. Within the area of the world that I had covered at this point, I was untouchable. The monsters here existed only for me to humiliate them.
I entered the cave and marched straight for the dragon. When the battle started, I quickly used a sleep spell and proceeded to bludgeon him to death while he lay there unconscious. Within five turns, I managed to dispatch the dragon before he had a chance to touch me. Victorious, I marched past his corpse and approached the princess. She asked me to take her back to the castle and, in a shift that was actually somewhat heartwarming, the music transitioned into a sweet melody and my avatar changed to show the hero carrying the princess in his arms. I warped back to the castle and returned Gwaelin to King Lorik. The king expressed his gratitude, and the moment Iíd been waiting for the whole time had finally come:
My quest had just begunÖ
Thatís all for now. Iíve got to make my way around the world in the other direction, but Iíll save it for another day. In part seven, I will finish the game. I was really bummed out about playing for a long time because of the difficulty, but after chipping away at my experience for so long, I eventually got hooked. I canít wait for the conclusion!
As always, thanks for reading!
Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: 110 hours -
IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~10 hours
Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five
The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four
Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three
How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two
Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One