Rookery’s Retro Review: Dragon Warrior (Nintendo Entertainment System)


Overall Score: 5 (of 5), the first epitome of console roleplaying games.

Story:  Sounds standard in that there’s a great darkness in the land, you’re a new knight and a new hope to save the land, yadda yadda yadda, right?  Okay, so maybe the classic tale of good versus evil is a sleepwalk, but you know what isn’t?  Dedicating weeks on a Nintendo Entertainment System exploring, building up a character, equipment and spells to defeat a foe so heinous that you’re walking around in the dark trying to find a few key elements to bring him down.   Before all that though…there’s a slime outside of the castle who just may beat you down.


Alright, maybe you gave that hostile slime a smashing it deserves, but remember if your ego gets too big too soon by wandering all over parts unknown, you’re going to find yourself dead.  Game over and done.  Here’s your vote of confidence though, you can save which in the day was quite revolutionary unless you lived in Japan (they had a disk system to save their games long before U.S. players could).  So be bold, take a chance but make sure you can handle yourself.  You just may find yourself striding across the lands in magic armor without fear of hitpoint reducing swamps or golems blocking your path.  Listen to what the townspeople say and the rewards can make you a hero.  Use melee, magic and know when to fight or run.


Highlights: You can save your game!  Not a big deal now especially if you have a Retron 5 or are emulating, but back then you had to consider mom ending your hero’s legacy because “you forgot to turn that thing off”.  Easy to play, addictive fun, a story with a beginning, middle and end without cryptic nonsense or some sort of ‘save the earth’ agenda.

Lowlights: Although it can be argued as ‘grindy’, it’s likely less than any other MMORPG or Final Fantasy adventure.  I’ve heard complaints that it is too easy with some click-through fighting, but with so many improbable-to-complete NES games without save states, I found it refreshing that Dragon Warrior makers wanted you to actually finish.  A few ‘sticking points’, but easy to find answers online (or Nintendo Power back then).

Similar Style Games:  Ultima Exodus, Final Fantasy, Fantasy Star, Phantasie

Final Thought:  THE essential RPG for early console gamers.

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