There had been others before--the wakka-wakka sounds from Ms. Pac-Man
, the stunning drama of pixelated manga cut-scenes from Ninja Gaiden
, and the futile attemps of having Mario survive a dip in the ocean with some Cheep-Cheeps from Super Mario Bros
. These were trumped by the strains of an 8-bit orchestral overture, a sparkling title screen, and a cute blue slime: Dragon Warrior.
I remember watching a friend playing the game when I was just in the first grade; he was just starting middle school. The gameplay was totally alien to anything I'd seen before--instead of running around killing things, you searched a town for clues to a poorly translated puzzle, open locked doors to uncover hidden treasure chests, and braved a fearsome battle with an army of slimes so cute you almost didn't want to slice them to gelatinous bits.
Part of what made this game appealing was how your character grew stronger as you won more fights against deadlier monsters. Being a pasty, short white kid, the idea of controlling an armored knight who grows stronger with time and gets to rescue a princess from a dragon was appealing in a certain way Mario wasn't. I didn't have to worry about poor reflexes and the act of grinding a character up a few experience levels helped me reach a nice Zen moment of slime slaying and weapon purchasing.
Although I still appreciate the RPG genre, I don't play as many games due to the time it takes to complete them. Still, a recent game that made me fall in love with it the way Dragon Warrior
did was Blue Dragon
for the 360: it might have been the familiar Akira Toriyama designs, the green and blue color pallet, or the high encounter rate, but it was love again at first byte.