Review: Dragon Warrior
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Posted by goobliata on 2018-06-29, 6:08am
This is a review a long time in the making. I first got Dragon Warrior when I was about 10 years old in 1991 or thereabouts. I played it a lot and loved it, but never finished it... until this past week.

This game appears really simple on the surface. Graphics when you're walking around are just a handful of tiles. But underneath it's a well designed game.

There are a lot of layers to the game. The game has a menu where you can choose some commands to perform at your current location. These give some extra possibilities not seen in some later RPGs. For example, you can search the ground and find hidden items if you know where to look. Most of the other commands are done more intuitively by other RPGs with a single action button and a button for the menu though.

The items and spells in the game have layers too. Some RPGs have simple white/black magic (guilty here) but Dragon Warrior has some unique spells like OUTSIDE that takes you outside a cave, RETURN which brings you back to the castle and RADIANT which lights up a cave. There are items which do some of these things and more like Fairy Water which keeps low level enemies from spawning random battles.

The equipment also has some interesting characteristics. The Magic Armor and Erdrick's Armor heal you as you walk (every 4 steps for Magic Armor and every step for Erdrick's Armor.) Erdrick's Armor also prevents damage from poisonous swamps and "blade tiles" (not sure what these are really called.)

There's a lot more too, like the Fairy Flute which puts the Golem to sleep and Gwailyn's Love which helps you find a hidden item you need to finish the game.

All in all the interactions with different items, spells, commands and places gives the game a nice deep feeling.

The game is a real grind, but I enjoyed it as leveling up was rewarding. The music is nice and I like the simple graphics. Battling is fairly simple with just a few spells, and basic attacks, and you fight 1 on 1 with an enemy each time. Battles are kept interesting with random misses, Excellent Moves, enemies striking first, random damage, gold and experience and some enemies that can take you out even if you're leveled enough.

I only had a couple gripes with the game. One of the caves seemed to go twisting on forever. I was mapping each cave as I played and this one was difficult to map. I kept going off the page and there were so many floors, my map wasn't very useful at the end. Also, some of the enemies wind up attacking you first a very large percentage of the time and you miss them often (Demon Knight especially), and others kept on healing themselves repeatedly resulting in long battles which was annoying at times, but I admit it kept things interesting.

Overall, I found it very enjoyable. Everything works together in this game. I'm glad to say I completed it after all these years and it was quite satisfying.
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