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randombullseye avatar 4:42 AM on 08.12.2008  (server time)
Old School Games: Dragon Warrior

Did you ever hear of Dragon Warrior? Chances are you have a copy or can find one easily. It was actually given away with subscriptions to nintendo power at one point. Oh and its an awesome nes role playing game.

First off, lets take a look at the box art.

I always love an epic box art.

My first experience with the game was back in the early nineties. I had received it as a gift, due to someone else not being able to get into it. I of course wandered too far and was murdered by ghosts and magicians. After some leveling up and talking to the villagers, I realized how epic an adventure Dragon Warrior could be. Crossing a bridge meant more difficult enemies. A difficult green dragon was in a cave. And oh so many more early memories. True fact: One of the first things I looked up on the internet were maps to Dragon Warrior. The game requires a bit of imagination to fill in the gaps, but that's forgivable considering the time of its original release.

The premise is that your guy is a descendant of a legendary hero. Among your tasks you have to save a princess and recover a magical light orb. A cool thing is that the final dungeon is right across the water from the starting area. If you've read my writing, you'll now how I like the air of mystery about a final stuff. Talking lets you find out about a guy called Dragonlord who is the enemy who stole the princess and magic orb. You only really can find out about the story and exposition by talking to random townsfolk. Kind of hard to piece together, but the manual explains some exposition. Playing it now makes me wonder how I stuck with it as a kid. It plays slower than other games, but somehow is more rewarding than the average action platformer.

As far as the gameplay goes, its pretty standard role playing stuff. Your guy levels up and increases statistics to take on bigger monsters. Collect money from fallen enemies to buy better equipment. Gain levels to gain more spells. Just one more level. I've heard complains that it takes forever to grind enough levels, but at one point I could finish the game in one sitting. All about risk versus reward.

The enemies are mostly color swaps of other enemies with a different name. Everything was designed by the Dragonball guy, so if you're into that sort of thing, its a plus. Most of the background music and sound effects are appropriately epic in nature. One annoyance is that to use a door you need a key and have to pick from a menu the word "door." To use stairs, you have to select "stairs." Kind of awkward. Another mechanic is that when you die you're sent back to the king with half gold.

Another thought about gameplay is that your party is made up of just your one hero. All alone, you have to save the day. It can be a bit of a grind, but that's the fun of it. According to my research, what you name your character determines his statistical growth.

Not a lot to say about the game other than keep leveling up, when you cross a bridge enemies get more difficult, and that Dragon Warrior is a classic old school game. It sucks me in every time I play it. It was 2:06 A.M. when I started playing a new level one game with the name "Random." Its 3:04 A.M. now, and I've gotten pretty far. Maybe a 1/3rd of the way through the game. The game is beatable around level 17, but unless I'm mistaken I've beaten it all at level 12 before. What do you guys think? Does the grinding take too long? Its a little more fair in the sequels, but here it seems like the majority of the game is trying to level up your guy and collect gold. You need a couple things to get into the last castle. Fight the dragonlord. And done. A great game.

I was playing the NES version, but its also available with updated graphics for the gameboy color. At my old job I would be play that version in my downtime. Its bundled with Dragon Warrior 2 and is probably the version you want if you've never played Dragon Warrior before.

One last thing, Dragon Warrior is always going to be Dragon Warrior to me. Never Dragon Quest. Even the ones that are rightfully called Quest now, I refer to as Dragon Warrior. I don't know why I'm so stubborn about that.

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