Dragon Warrior

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North American NES box art.

Dragon Warrior is a role-playing game developed by Chunsoft and published by Enix on 1986-05-27 for the NES and later that year for the MSX and MSX2. It is the first game in the Dragon Warrior series. In the game's story, the evil Dragonlord has stolen a sacred relic from the kingdom of Alefgard plunging the land into darkness and kidnapped the Princess Gwaelin. King Lorik has sent many brave men to retrieve the relic, but none have returned. You are the last hope to defeat the monsters of the realm, rescue the princess, and vanquish the Dragonlord to return light to the kingdom.

Around 1990, my mother bought us Dragon Warrior and River City Ransom at a garage sale, and I found both games to be a lot of fun. Although, by today's standards, Dragon Warrior is a pretty dull game, I still spent a lot of time playing it at home and at my cousin's house. I remember my religious aunt being very concerned about the game having a "warlock" in it. My brother and I played the game, grinding for many hours, until one day he told me that he beat the game. I used our shared character to grind more until I maxed out the experience, gold, and hit level 30. After that, I beat the game too.


I own this game for the NES and have beaten it and maxed out a character.


  • Overall: 4/10
  • Best Version: NES

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The cartoon monster graphics are drawn fantastically by Akira Toriyama.
  • Even with the game's rather poor audio driver, the music is quite good. Enix was wise to hire Koichi Sugiyama, a professional, to compose their music.
  • The player sprite graphic changes when he's holding a sword, shield, and the princess. A nice touch.
  • Showing the evil Charlock Castle surrounded by swamp in the distance is a nice way of letting the player imagine how awful it's going to be long before they can actually reach it. Although, it creates a serious plot hole: doesn't Alefgard have boats?
  • I like the reveal in the final battle.
  • The game has three different endings, based on whether you accept the Dragon Lord's offer, and whether you have rescued Princess Gwaelin. And it's a pretty good cut scene for 1986.


  • There isn't much to do in the game. If grinding wasn't necessary, you could talk to every NPC, collect every item, traverse every map, and beat the game in about an hour.
  • The combat is very primitive. You only ever control one hero, you only ever fight one monster, and your actions are limited to fight, spell, item, and run. However, if given the choice between combat that is too complex or too simple, I prefer too simple.
  • Even with only a handful of items in the game, the designer's still managed to make a few of them effectively useless including the Fighter's Ring, Cursed Belt, and Necklace of Death.
  • The save-the-princess trope was pretty played out, even in 1986, and it's embarrassing now. Especially since you have to literally carry Gwaelin all the way back to the castle (are her legs broken?). Finally, she professes her love to you simply because you rescued her.
  • The game only has a single role-playing element (a decision to make) at the very end, and it's entirely predictable.


  • The game is painfully grind heavy. The designers would need to make enemies reward about 10 times more gold and experience than they do in order to make the game bearable by today's standards.


Box Art



Graphic Sheets

Fan Art



The title was changed from "Dragon Quest" to "Dragon Warrior" in the USA because of a pen and paper RPG TSR sold called "DragonQuest." Enix continued calling the American released "Dragon Warrior" until 2004 when they started using "Dragon Quest" for all regions.

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Dragon Warrior
Japanese ドラゴンクエスト Doragon Kuesuto Dragon Quest


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