This year marks the 35th anniversary of the original release of Dragon Quest in Japan—on the Famicom. There have been eleven main-series instalments and countless spin-off games released since then. With the entire main-line series (bar the MMO instalment, Dragon Quest X) now having had an official English-language release, I figured it was time I explored some of those older Dragon Quest titles I never had a chance to experience. With the Nintendo Switch remastered releases of the Erdrick Trilogy (Dragon Quest I–III), I figured there was no better place to start than with the game that started it all. So, please join me as I endeavour to take on the quest that is the Erdrick Trilogy.
Dragon Quest on the Nintendo Switch is a remastered version of the original 1986 genre-defining classic, ported across from the mobile version and rescaled. The game feels immediately familiar, as a long-time JRPG fan, because this game was the innovator that started it all. Every JRPG that you’ve likely ever played features some element of gameplay that was first envisioned here in Dragon Quest.
The game itself has aged remarkably well. The gameplay is simple and an utter delight to play. By JRPG standards, the game is very simple: you are the hero, you must save the princess and defeat the evil Dragonlord. It is in the games simplicity, though, that it proves to be fun. Grinding in this game never feels a chore—and there are definitely a number of times that require you to grind and level up—but the combat is so straight forward and can be experienced both casually or intensively. If you want to just grind mindlessly while watching TV or something, you’ll find this to be the perfect handheld companion game. However, if you want to really focus in and play it in a hardcore way you can definitely do that as well.
There are no party members in this game; you simply play solo—as the hero—and build you character up as you journey through the open landscape, following clues from NPCs to discover pathways and, ultimately, to secure the legendary items of Erdrick before you can challenge the Dragonlord. Worth noting is that this remastered edition adds in a lot of quality-of-life improvements, which make the overall experience feel more modernised, removes unnecessary menus, and expedites processes such as talking to NPCs (being a simple click rather than selecting “Talk” from a pop up menu).
One of the major sticking points some Dragon Quest fans have had with these remastered versions are the redrawn monster sprites. They are not pixelated and look more like clean graphical artwork. I personally had no issue with seeing the iconic monster art of Akira Toriyama presented in this way. That said, it is a matter of preference. There is undoubtedly a group out there that would much prefer the game to present the enemies in their traditional pixel-art forms. Similarly, the game implements full orchestrated music rather than the original chiptune versions of the soundtrack. Again, I considered this to be a good thing; but, again, it is really a matter of perspective and what you are wanting out of these remastered editions.
All in all, Dragon Quest remastered for the Nintendo Switch is a glorious throwback to the classic age of turn-based JRPGs; one that has aged like fine wine and is truly a timeless experience. If you are new to the Dragon Quest series or have only played the more recent entries, Dragon Quest is a great game to dive right into; especially if you plan to quest your way through the remastered Erdrick Trilogy, which are all available at great prices on the Nintendo Switch eShop now.