The original Dragon Warrior released in 1989 was my first Roleplaying game, and includes many many fond memories. I remember my cousin owned the game, but I didn’t – so I had to rent it. Renting an RPG at that time meant your save game was stuck on the cartridge. I remember crossing my fingers and hoping no one deleted my save game between times when I had enough coins to rent it.
This is a solo quest, the main character (you get to name them) is a decendant of Edrick ( a great hero of the past). Your job is to defeat the evil Dragon Lord who is wrecking the world. Simple enough, time to get to it.
As your character progresses in levels you gain more attack power, HP, MP and may learn a new useful spell. There are 30 levels in the game, I tried to finish at around level 20 but wasn’t strong enough – so levelled up to 26 and it was a snap.
The most interesting thing about this world, is that you can see the final dungeon across the river from the starting castle. Interesting huh. Now it’s just a matter of getting there and doing what needs to get done.
There are plains, hills, mountains, forests, swamps, deserts, stripy things and rivers/ocean. The only way across rivers is by bridge, and the only way across mountains is to find the way around. The swamp tiles damage your character, as well as the slashy stripy tiles (I have no idea what these are supposed to represent).
The world isn’t very large, and the transitions from fighting certain monsters are very rapid. Walking too far in one direction, or crossing a bridge can lead to some dangerous territory if you’re not prepared for it. There isn’t a huge variation of monsters in the game, most are just recoloured flipped versions that are stronger with different spells.
All towns are single tiles on the world map without much variation. The towns themselves are fairly basic, there are no house, just blocks outlining where a house
might be. Some have doors that can only be opened with magic keys.
Dungeons are the same, linear hallways blocked off by squares that don’t allow you to pass. Not sure who designs dungeons with corridors, but there you have it.
There are lots of people to talk to, most of them are not helpful, but a few have tips that are very important. Writing them down is sometimes necessary (like the guy that says you have to search X and Y distance from the starting castle). Either way, make sure you talk to everyone – that or read a walk-through, because you won’t get anywhere in this game without the right clues.
One thing about this RPG – it is necessary to grind levels. Very necessary. You have to grind at least 3 levels before even travelling away from the starter area. Getting gold and grinding levels goes hand in hand. The basic premise I followed, was buying the best stuff I could at each town before moving to new areas. Having to grind for that much gold put me at appropriate levels to continue to the next areas without much trouble.
Combat is straight forward. One enemy appears and you have to fight it. The enemy can attack, or cast a spell – you can do the same (or run away). Each combat is a random encounter (totally random, there is no “step counter”). Some monsters have the ability to put you to sleep, then beat on you while you’re snoring. These are the most dangerous ones, and need to be taken down with care. You can do the same, but your MP is limited and you need to use it wisely.
If you get low on health your HUD will turn red, all the text and outlines, which is a pretty startling change and you sure take notice.
As you get stronger, weaker enemies will run from you without warning. This is annoying, but until you get the “repel” spell there isn’t much you can do about it.
There is a short list of spells you can acquire. Heal and Hurt are self explanatory. you get a Radiant spell, which lights up dungeons. You’ll need to use that, or a torch to get through them.
The sleep spell can put an enemy to sleep for a random number of rounds. Each round they have a chance of waking up. Same with you when you get put to sleep, often it lasts one round, but sometimes can last 5 rounds.
Stopspell prevents your enemy from casting any kind of magic. This is useful for enemies that cure themselves. Watch out for enemies that will cast it on you to prevent the same thing.
Repel prevents random encounters on the world map only, and lasts a pretty limited time.
Outside exits whatever dungeon you are in, and Return takes you back to the starting castle.
Plot Summary – (spoilers)
You are first tasked with rescuing the princess who was kidnapped (by a dragon – for realz!) and is locked a long way from home. This takes a while to accomplish, mostly because of the level grinding before you even get to that area.
On the way the hero finds a tablet left by Edrick telling him about his destiny to defeat the dragon lord. Lots to put on a poor guy’s shoulders eh? Just because your dad was a hero …
Once you rescue the princess you get to carry her all the way home. Good thing you’re a big tough hero and have been working hard to gain all those levels and up your strength.
Returning the princess grants you her love (you carry it around as an item), which tells you how far you are from the castle and how much exp you need to level up. Handy thing, a woman’s love.
After that the hero decides to take care of the dragon lord once and for all. He needs to collect some relics from all over the world to create a bridge to the Dragon Lord’s castle. With that accomplished the hero also needs to retrieve his father’s armor and sword. With those in hand he can finally challenge and defeat the Dragon Lord.
FInal Thoughts –
While this game holds a place in my heart for being my first – it really isn’t a great game. Most of my time was spent grinding for levels (hours and hours of grinding). The story was short, and not difficult to follow. Finding everything was simple and straight forward, and other than having to beat a lot of enemies up on the way, there wasn’t much else to the game.
You do get to marry the princess at the end, and carry her around for the rest of your life (apparently). Which is a plus, and with the king being that old you probably get to take over the kingdom pretty soon.
The Dragon Lord himself is pretty tough, mostly because you can barely keep up with the healing necessary from the damage he does to you. Hit, heal, hit, heal, hit, heal – is basically the strategy involved in defeating him. Hope your hitting does enough damage before your MP runs out.
You also have restored peace unto the world, and stuff. Isn’t that worth a little level grinding?
I’m curious though – where is Edricks shield? I mean, he probably used a shield didn’t he? That would have been pretty helpful against all that dragon fire. Just sayin …