Dragon Quest, created by Yuji Horii was released in Japan in 1986 with great success. Three years later North America got Dragon Warrior and, while I love this game, it was a year too late to compete with the much more successful Final Fantasy. I had both games, along with The Legend of Zelda, and all three of them were different enough that I have fond memories of each, and each shaped my love of all things fantasy and RPG.
Dragon Warrior is a pretty simple tale, with a bit of a twist in continuity. The hero shows up and accepts a quest to rescue Princess Gwaelin. In so doing the hero finds clues that lead him further into adventure to collect relics, defeat the Dragonlord and restore light to the kingdom. While it has the very basic elements of most RPGs of the time, Dragon Warrior puts them in an unexpected order. Also unexpected is the choice the hero gets at the end, join the Dragonlord, or fight him. Few games of the time allowed the hero to choose to join the bad guy.
Gameplay was like many other RPGs of the time, wandering the overland map the player would run into random encounters fought in a turn based style. It was set apart from its most notable competitors in that the battles were in first person view. I remember it being a bit of a frustration for me, despite how much I liked the game. I preferred games like Zelda where you could see the enemy monsters and avoid them, if you were in a hurry, rather than have encounters spring on you suddenly like DW or FF. While it’s a very simplistic game by today’s RPG standards back when it released it was a great game for budding tabletop gamers, and video RPG fans alike. Even the manual was one of the best I remember, giving you lore along with artistic renderings of the items you could find around the world.
If you’re looking for a classic RPG to have some fun with, and haven’t played Dragon Warrior, or haven’t played it in a long time check it out. I think you’ll like it. It has also spawned 9 other games in the franchise, with Dragon Quest X being the latest release in 2012, along with quite a few spin-offs.