Nintendo Entertainment System
Dragon Warrior, known as Dragon Quest in Japan, undoubtedly had a great influence in the formation and development of the console RPG. Some of its ideas have become staples of RPG design, and its shadow can be felt in many subsequent RPGs. Despite its enormous influence though, Dragon Warrior is a flawed game. It has some decent design ideas, but it's just not terribly enjoyable.
One of the biggest flaws that plagues Dragon Warrior is its shoddy pacing. The game forces you to spend a lot of time leveling up just to be able to survive. In fact, with a little bit of bad luck it's entirely possible for you to die on your first monster encounter, two steps outside the first city. Gold is also scarce, and when you consider how expensive the items are, you'll be spending even more time collecting gold. It's annoying when you spend most of the game wandering around fighting a few monsters and running back to towns to heal.
Even if you don't mind spending hours mindlessly leveling up, the story isn't very interesting. You're a generic hero with no personality, going out to perform various fetch and deliver tasks on your way to rescue the stereotypical princess in distress, and eventually to your confrontation with the equally stereotypical bad guy. The game tends to drag even more because of its poor interface. To do anything you have to first bring up a menu of actions, then select the appropriate action. This includes seemingly simple things like opening chests, talking, or taking the stairs. There's also a very definite lag between input and response, and sometimes the game won't respond at all.
Dragon Warrior's graphics aren't particularly good either. The character sprites are nearly Atari 2600 simple, as they're basically square blocks of white and some other color arranged to look like a vaguely humanoid shape. The world map graphics are decent but simplistic. The city icons are squares with castles or towns drawn on a black background, so when you come across a city in the middle of a green expanse, you'll see a black hole in the middle of all the green, with a thing that looks vaguely like a castle.
The music and sound effects are equally disappointing. Dragon Warrior's music has the potential to be quite good but is ruined by shoddy playback quality. Furthermore, there are relatively few songs in the game, so you'll be listening to the same few poor quality songs repeatedly. The sound effects are a step above simple beeps, but not much more than that.
Dragon Warrior did have a significant role to play in the formation of the console RPG genre, and for that it should be remembered. But taken on its own merits, it's just not an enjoyable game to play. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide
Subpar graphics with very simplistic character sprites. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide
Dragon Warrior's music could have been good, but it's played back at poor quality and there's just not enough of it. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide
The game's pacing is slow, forcing you to spend long periods leveling or collecting gold. Its interface is clunky and its controls aren't responsive. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide
Dragon Warrior is basically a once-through affair. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide
The manual covers all the basics and then some, and is laid out in a nice format. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide