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Dragon Quest Ios review-how is questing for dragons on a mobile device

Updated on November 4, 2014

Note Dragon Warrior and Dragon Quest were made by Enix (now called Square Enix) all pictures were taken by my Ipad but the game and everything in it belongs to SE.

Back in the good old days of the 8 bit NES there was a series in Japan called Dragon Quest. The game was big, it was revolutionary, bringing table top RPG’s to the video game realm. It was a hit in Japan and to help get the series a foot hold in America NOA decided change its name to Dragon Warrior (due to copyright concerns with another PC game) and to give it out free to anyone who subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine. That is however not how I first played the game, buying it used from a video rental store several years later is how I got my first taste of Dragon Warrior. I also bought the GBC remake several years after that. And just because I was curious and unlike other SE games it was cheap I decided to buy the new IOS version. How is the IOS version of Dragon Quest, well it’s the best version of it yet to hit American shores, that said this is still a really old dragon were dealing with so it might not be for everyone.



A view of the overworld in the iOS version
A view of the overworld in the iOS version

Story

The Kingdom of Alfeguard was once a peaceful place until the evil Dragon Lord showed up and kidnap the Princess and stole the ancient ball of light used by the hero Edericks and buried deep underground. Without the ball of light the kingdom is now being over runned by monsters and its ruin is now inevitable. The only one that can stop this is a descendent of Ederick and you are that descendent. You must find where the dragonlord is hiding the princess, the items needed to create the rainbow bridge into his castle, plus your ancestor’s ancient armor and sword if you have any hope of saving the kingdom.

The puff puff ritual.
The puff puff ritual.

Yeah that’s pretty much the story it’s not deep or long in exposition, basically the whole of the story gets dumped on you at the very beginning by the king, and some a little bit when you rescue the Princess other than that it’s not big on story. Kind of surprising the way JRPG’s are done now. Also if you’re expecting any type of narrative to tell you what to do next and where to go your SOL. Sure the towns people drop plenty of clues but overall the person who is going to have to figure out how to save the kingdom is you.


I should also mention that this version of the game has reverted back to the old English version found in the NES, while the GBC used modern English. But at least it’s probably translated old English rather than broken and nonsensical Engrish like was found in the NES version. I should also tell you the game is now uncut, while there wasn’t a lot censored out of the original, there was something called a puff puff ritual that you can get in a bath in one of the town. It was changed in the NES version to Powdered puff message. So what is a puff puff, well let’s just say it’s a crude Japanese joke that indicates are hero is getting more than a message in that public bath (all be it not necessarily implying a happy ending either).



I should also mention that Square Enix took the time to change some of the names. I don’t understand why it’s not like the new names are any better. But anyways some monster now have new names, for example the magician is now the predesisgtator, and the wear wolfs are now called Tearwolfs.

Graphics

Dragon Quest has never looked better in my opinion. The graphics are done in 16 bit looking sprite art, it’s not the same has the Super Famicom videos I have seen has the sprites are done much larger and with different animation. Still it looks gorgeous on the apple device I play it on. The backgrounds are better, and the sprites which were done by Dragon Ball Z creator Akira Toriyanma now just look outstanding. That said there is still very little to animation during the battles, screen shakes and glowing enemies is all you’re getting in this one.


My only complaint about the graphics would be in the final fight. In the final fight Dragonlord has two forms one of them is this puny looking guy who looks to Emperor Pilafs older brother. But then he transforms into a dragon. In the NES version the screen completely change, while all your stats and menus were there, the rest of it was just either black, or giant dragon that filled most of the screen rather than the standard box. This gave you a clue to just how enormous and powerful the final boss is. In this one the box and the rest of the screen stays the same after he transforms, and the dragon he transforms into actually looks punyier then his original form (that said he can still kill you 2 to 3 hits so watch your HP)

Sound

The music in this game just sound awesome. While I liked the old sounding music the NES limited sound range does sound a bit obnoxious after a while. Here since it’s quite and it sound more instrumental the music just kind of flows and it does make you feel like you’re in some old medieval fairy tale hunting down dragons and saving princesses.


My only complaint about the Ios version is the NES version there was an audio cue when your about to fight. This one the fights just start has does there music. It can be pretty jarring hearing the audio changes when it comes to the music.

Gameplay

Being one of the first console RPG’s Dragon Quest does suffer a lot from age. Don’t get me wrong it is still a decent game, and the fact that the IoS version is more of a remake of the Super Famicom (Japanese Super Nintendo) then the original NES Dragon Warrior is a good thing. Ok like I said you’re not going to get a lot of help from the narrative and there is next to no hand holding. But the basic premise of the game in order to beat it you have to do 3 things.

  1. Rescue the Princess doing this gets you your love which is a handy item that tells you how much EXP you have to earn to level up (yeah stat screens didn’t show you that back in the day) it also tells you how far from Tantegel Castle you are and you’re going to need that information to find an item you need for number 2.

  2. Restore the rainbow bridge that leads to Dragon Lords castle. Yeah you can see the bosses final lair the moment you set out from Tantegel Castle, but to get there you have to go the scenic route through a cave onto a nearby island that is castle is on. Unfortunately there is also a river where a bridge to his castle use to exist but it’s been destroyed. Again you’re going to need to find some ancient artifacts once used by Ederick back in the day if you want to get into the castle.

  3. Sure now you have done things to get into the final bosses lair but Dragonlord breath can melt steal and his hide is really thick. You need to find Edericks sword (which is in the final area) and then find out who he loan his armor too if you want to stand a chance.

Those are the 3 things needed to win the game, and you can do them in any order you want. The game world is completely open to you to explore. The only thing stopping you is the enemies. The further away from the castle the stronger they become. And if you wonder into an area that you are under level and underequipped for the monsters there will gladly give you a quick trip back to Tantagel castle for half your gold (that is the penalty for dying.).


Which is the main problem with Dragon Quest to prepare for these areas you have too camp in an area where you will find monsters challenging but at the same time ones that won’t easily kill you and then grind, a lot. A good chunk of the time will be spent near villages just walking around and killing monsters in a one on one fight so they can give you enough gold to afford the latest armor and exp to level you up enough to survive a new area.


Has for dungeons there are 4 of them, but only 2 of them are of notable length to get lost in or really explore. One of them is a tomb of minstrel needed to get a harp to trade for an item needed to recreate the bridge, and the other one is the final dungeon. So yeah most of the time is going to be on the over world fighting monsters for exp and gold to level up. Yeah this Dragon Quest really does seem to drag on sometimes (get it).

Touchscreen

One of the things that keeps me from buying a mobile version of the game is the touch screen. Call me an old fashion game but I like buttons and sticks over a flat screen. Fortunatley the turn base action of Dragon Quest fits the touch screen quite nicely. There is a box to pull up the menu, and a virtual analog stick that you can press on the screen to move your characters, it feels natural and moves quite nicely. The attack inputs are once again done by touch. It works nicely and I didn’t find myself missing my old NES controller for one minute.

Just touch your selection in combat
Just touch your selection in combat

Final Recommendation

Dragon Quest (or Warrior) is a really great old school RPG. It has a fair bit of old school charm and is worth checking out. Just be prepared for the high amount of grinding you’re going to need to do get through this game. If your someone who likes some strategy and a relative slow base to your RPG check this game out. Want a faster moving game, you might want to find something newer.


It gets a 3.5 out of 5 from me.

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