Sometimes there’s a game that just seizes upon you, and you become so taken with it that you need more to satisfy some inner longing built from its excellence. In these cases, there’s been plenty of ample sequels or prequels to fulfill that itch for me. These are the franchises I have been following the closest over my gaming existence, the ones that I hold the highest standards to and anticipate the greatest. They are not in any real order, because that would be agonizing to determine what I love more. It’s hard enough with individual games – uniting them all would be a nightmare. However, I will go into what game left the impact and which of the series I adore the most, as well as discuss each game I have (or have not) played and its furthering impact upon my feelings. There’s nine that I consider the finest – this particular one is a recent fave.
Dragon Quest (Square-Enix)
Game That Left the Impact – Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
The Game I Adore – Dragon Quest IX (DS)
There’s something very magical in the realms of Dragon Quest…and I’m not talking about Kaboom! Yuji Horii’s RPG series is incredibly charming with excellent character development and designs (which is sort of a surprise to me, as I thought I was worn out of Akira Toriyama’s work following Dragon Ball Z…), the compelling and kooky foes it throws into the fray, and keeping the series mechanics steadily along the course of the franchise with mostly minor tweaks and additions being made. Plus, it’s very experimental with its storylines, which is a big plus. All and all, I can consider Dragon Quest my favorite Japanese RPG saga without too many other contenders.
What I’ve Tried
Dragon Warrior (NES) – The very first game in the series is very simplistic, what with only one hero to control and a very primitive look and feel, but there’s a solid quest lurking beneath its antiquated bones. It’s more grind-y than some of the later games, though.
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (DS) – This remake of the NES original is a joyous one, with bright, cheery graphical upgrades, charming characters and a compelling story backing the action. I need to get back into this myself.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DS) – Another remake, this time of the Super NES cartridge we never saw, but this particular game is brilliant. It has some of the most emotional moments in any game I’ve played, the gameplay is full of neat twists (like gathering monsters to fight with you), and is just a riot to experience. This is another I need to finish, though – I got stuck on hunting down the fairy palace and got distracted by other things.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2) – Level-5′s first handling of the storied franchise was a genius move on Square-Enix’s part, as the devs brought the game into three dimensions beautifully. Lush environments to poke around in, plus some absolutely stunning characterization and plot, made my time with DQVIII memorable and a blast. The music too is incredible. Just a well-made game. Although, I’m realizing that Dragon Quest games are ones I regrettably drop, as I’ve done it here, too, and I need to rectify that pronto.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) – Arguably the finest game in the franchise and for the system as well, Dragon Quest IX keeps tradition intact while modifying key gameplay components, making the entry both fresh and familiar. Customization is maxed out here, and the game throws a ton of content outside of the story and despite the characters being silent throughout the game (as they are individualized by the player through costume and class), the overall quality outshines that nitpick.
What Haven’t I Played?
Dragon Warrior II (NES) – I have the game now, so now it’s just finding the time.
Dragon Warrior III (NES) – Ditto!
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (DS) – Ditto x 3!
Dragon Warrior VII (PS1) – This will probably be the hardest one for me to find, but I am looking!
What Makes It One of the Best?
Dynamic and Enthralling Plots – Every Dragon Quest game has made an earnest effort to do something a little different from the last, and there’s been a pleasant curveball thrown in all of the ones I’ve played that I did not see coming. The story is a driving force here, and it really is among the finest in the JRPG realm…if not all of gaming.
Perfect Characterization - Another asset to the Dragon Quest franchise are its excellent and whimsical characters that populate their worlds. Characters you easily attach to, get behind and want to help conquer their problems. Even Dragon Quest IX’s characters, created by the player themselves, manage to become investments to the player. The cool designs, among Akira Toriyama’s finest, help out a lot, too.
Fun, Clever Localization – Starting with Dragon Quest VIII, Square-Enix (and Nintendo as of late) have decided to let Dragon Quest’s kooky nature actually come across overseas, and allowed the series to be full of puns, jokes, goofiness and funny accents, which is such a refreshing change from most other overdramatic games from both sides of the Pacific. Never lose that!
Compelling yet Simple Battle Engines – Each DQ game runs on a core that sees expansions and tweaks per game, but never abandons what made it so engaging in the first place. The silliness spreads to the battle as well, with Underwear Dances and face lickings possible alongside bad-ass sword moves and devastating spells. While each game tosses something new into the mix, you can still leap right in and know what you’re doing easily enough and pick up the additions in a jiffy.
Music that Soars – Koichi Sugiyama’s been the official Dragon Quest composer since the beginning, and his work has become legendary because of the excellence he’s come up with time and time again. Each game has a killer soundtrack that perfectly suits its adventure.