Dragon Quest - Mobile Review

The original Dragon Quest puts players into the role of an upcoming Hero descending from the heroic line of Erdrick who once defeated the Evil Dragonlord to bring peace to the land. Unfortunately for the continent that our upcoming hero is on, the Dragonlord is back and the once Hero is long past resting in his grave. Taking up sword and shield, this descendant sets out on a solo JRPG adventure to restore peace to this little part of the world.

Like the first few entries into its now brethren series of Final Fantasy, the original Dragon Quests saw a re-release late last year upon the Android and iOS platforms outside of Japan. These new versions contained updated graphical interfaces, touch controls, and some other enhancements from the original versions. So with sword and shield in hand, our hero sets out from the starting castle almost two decades later looking a lot sharper in order to take down the Evil Dragonlord.

Using a wide open approach, there are almost no limits as to where our hero can go on his quest. Once the castle has been left the rest is honestly all up to you. Visit the town? Head North? East? South? West? The open approach design that was taken carries a charm as there is no hand holding as the complete opposite occurs. Want to know how to make it further? Looking for an item in particular? Need to get through a locked door? Talking to everyone in order to paint the entire picture is almost absolutely necessary. While technically it is possible to find your way generally without talking to everyone, exploring and checking every nook and cranny is going to get our hero nowhere fast.

Journeying solo can be a bit rough, but thankfully this hero is more than just a swordmaster. Knowing how to wield steel and magic, there is not much that can stand before these destructive forces once enough levels have been acquired. Dragon Quest requires a decent amount of grinding in order to get anywhere. I’ll be honest that in certain cases exploration took a nose dive as our hero just couldn’t stand the hits. Grinding for experience and gold to buy new equipment is going to become necessary but as this is an RPG that’s just par for the course isn’t it?

Unlike a lot of other RPGs even now, Dragon Quest doesn’t believe in Gamer Over. It believes in punishing you for losing, but never in making you outright lose the experience that was gained in your failure. Instead of this, once our Hero’s HP drops to zero he is immediately brought back to the Throne Room of the King and berated for being reckless. Seeing as that is all he does before asking you to save it didn’t seem like much of an issue until opening the inventory screen and seeing that your wallet was now exactly half of what it used to be. This quickly taught that erring on the side of caution should be more than a simple guideline.

Wiping out at zero HP is going to happen and losing money can be frustrating especially when our hero was saving up for that new blade in order to move further into the continent. Thankfully knowing of the woes of the world we have wonderful people offering to hold onto our hard earned income. Bankers can be found through the various towns and can store money or items that can be accessed by any other bank that our hero walks up to. Depositing items is done rather easily while money can be slightly more tricky as the bank refuses anything less than one-thousand dollar deposits and withdrawals.

Exploration honestly surprised me as walking into the first cave our hero was smacked with a wall of darkness barely being able to see a foot in front of his own. Needing to light a torch to see anything further away was about the only real way to explore these darker reaches short of having a graphic memory of each and every step that was taken. Much later on as our hero’s magic increases he gets access to a light spell that is twice as potent as the torch. Being magic however, it will fade in time so making sure that a torch is always on hand should be a must if magic is to be kept for healing and escaping purposes.

Dragon Quest is a much much older game so there are a few things that can be frustrating but when compared to the tech available at the time, things were rather impressive. By today’s standards however, there are a few things that can come across as frustrating while others have work arounds. The first of these is that saving can only be done with the King. That’s it. An entire continent to explore with various towns, cities, and dungeons, and the King is the only person can record your life’s experience into the vaults of time in case you turn off your game. Thankfully players can quick save but doing so doesn’t allow for a previous reload in case you really did something dumb. Trust me. It can happen.

While saving wasn’t an overly huge deal as I did quick save a lot over the course of the journey since it was easier, traveling by foot across the continent to get back to where I was after teleporting back to the castle in an instant was a pain. For some reason using a Chimera Wing was only useful to make it back to what could be considered the central point of the continent. Wait… the King resides here… wow everything really does revolve around him doesn’t it? Having to walk all the way back to where you were exploring sometimes for nothing more than one item left in storage could really kill the groove.

The original Dragon Quest revamped for mobiles was interesting to experience mainly because it puts the rest of the series into perspective of where it comes from and how far that it’s actually come since on the road to the upcoming Dragon Quest XI.

Platform Android

Developer(s) Square Enix
Publisher(s) Square Enix
Genre(s) RPG
Mode(s) Single Player
Other Platform(s) Apple iOS

Note: Background designs provided by Hamza
Screenshots provided through a Google Nexus 6 during playthrough

Article by Pierre-Yves
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