Dragon Warrior is one of the first Nintendo games I remember having. Like many kids of the time, I got Dragon Warrior through the awesome Nintendo Power promotion…you got the NP subscription and the game with all the trimmings, including maps, guides and posters. Having all that stuff was pretty awesome and I thought the game fun. My friend and I played non-stop, tracking all our things and carefully plotting our path.
It was the first RPG either of us had really played (excluding maybe Zelda) so the novelty of the game not being a platform jumper like Mario was certainly a draw. I remember Dragon Warrior taking a long time to complete. Leveling up took endless grinding and keeping track of all the NPC hints and tips was tedious at best. As I said, at the time that seemed like fun but looking back I feel that Dragon Warrior probably planted the seed for me being somewhat anti-RPG.
I never played Dragon Warrior 2 or 3 or…however many there are now. As long as it took the finish that first game, even as kid I wasn’t about to go through all that again. I had other games to play! I’m not going to waste my time fighting blue slimes (again) when Mega Man 3 is sitting right there. So right there in the midst of 1990, role-playing games lived and died in my house.
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With exception of a few rare stops, I haven’t revisited the grind-heavy RPGs like Dragon Warrior since then. But then just a couple weeks ago I see that Dragon Warrior got ported to iOS for the iPad – although now called by its original name, Dragon Quest.
The happy memories of the game started rushing back and for some reason I figured that now, almost 25 years later, Dragon Warrior would seem different…maybe easier, maybe more interesting. Maybe my adulthood understanding of things (and just a long life of gaming) would change how I play and enjoy the game.
And it might have actually gotten worse. The iOS port looks better than the original NES version but still keeps it’s retro roots, and I’m cool with that. But it’s still Dragon Warrior, and that means grinding and grinding. It means more slow walking through forests beating slimes. The thing is, I knew all this before I bought the game. I knew it wasn’t a different game…so why’d I buy it?
I have no good reason outside of sheer nostalgia, of which I am very susceptible to. Congratulations, Square Enix, you got my $3 for a very short trip down memory lane. However, despite this journey being short-lived and regrettable, it doesn’t change the fun memories of Dragon Warrior I had when I was 11-years-old. I still have my original NES cartridge and all the maps. I’m still proud of them and proud that I was actually able to complete the game when I was a kid rather than finishing the job now in mid-30s on an iPad. That accomplishment certainly meant more back then than it does now, much like Dragon Warrior itself.
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