Now that it’s time for both old and new fans alike to get their hands on Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition, I thought I’d share more about how the original game increased my enjoyment of the main series. I’ve managed to become quite a big fan of the series since Dragon Quest XI had its western release and even attended a panel about the series at PAX West 2019, and of course, went to a signing later that day. Not only that, but between the original release of the game and this new enhanced portable version, I was inspired to collect every portable version of a mainline Dragon Quest game. In a way, it was similar to going on my own RPG adventure, and somewhat like the first Dragon Quest since I was by myself and had no party.
The Journey Begins with Dragon Quest V
I started seeking out more of these games not too long after finishing Dragon Quest XI, but I wasn’t sure which I would play first. Since Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is highly regarded as one of the best and you can recruit monsters to your party — a mechanic later expanded on in the Dragon Quest Monsters spin-off series — I thought that would be a good one to start with. At the time, Dragon Quest: Your Story, a CG animated film heavily based on Dragon Quest V, had not been announced yet, but once it was it helped inspire me to get closer to finishing the game. In North America, there are only two versions of Dragon Quest V available: a Nintendo DS version and a mobile version, while in Japan there is also the original Super Nintendo release as well as a PlayStation 2 remake. Since I never play games on my phone and Dragon Quest Monsters for the Game Boy Color was my first exposure to Dragon Quest as a whole, I decided to seek out the DS version. Luckily enough, I found it alongside copies of Dragon Quest IV, VI, and IX at a local game store in a nearby mall. At the time, I thought getting all of them at once would be too excessive, so I thought I’d try Dragon Quest V first and hoped I’d see the others again at some point — little did I know some of them would be more elusive than I expected.
Injured By Dragon Quest VIII
After playing through a bit of Dragon Quest V and really enjoying it, I decided to try and find the Nintendo 3DS ports of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King when I could. Dragon Quest VII was easy enough to find at another local game store, but the search for Dragon Quest VIII was more difficult than I expected and I had to travel a bit further — fortunately still within the city though. I was so excited to purchase Dragon Quest VIII, likely due to it being the most popular main series title with Western audiences and the one I heard the most about before XI, that I started running toward the game store and ended up tripping and injuring just about every finger on my left hand, as well as both my knees. My pinky finger hit the ground so hard and was so swollen that I could barely move it for about a week and a half. At the time I really wished I could’ve cast heal on myself. I did end up buying some Pokemon band-aids at a local pharmacy, which is still totally on-brand for me, but Dragon Quest band-aids would have been better (do those even exist? Maybe in Japan). Was Dragon Quest VIII worth those minor injuries? Well, I haven’t seen a copy anywhere else since, so hopefully, I’ll find out for sure soon enough.
Dragon Quest IX: The Easiest to Find
While on my search there, there was one game I saw more often than I expected to, and that was Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. Dragon Quest IX is an interesting case due to its Nintendo DS exclusivity and it’s focus on local — and at one point also online — multiplayer. One day I just decided to finally pick it up and then not even a week later, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Hori and Level-5 President Akihiro Hino would play the game on stream talking about the possibility of a remake on Nintendo Switch. If it does happen it won’t be out for a while though, so maybe I’ll have finished the original by then.
Visiting the Not-So-Distant Past
A while after picking up Dragon Quest IX, I decided to go back to the past and look for the Game Boy versions of Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line, which are together on one cartridge, as well as the Game Boy Color version of Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation, regarded by many fans as the best version of the best game in the series. I thought these would be the hardest to find due to being the oldest titles I was looking for, but this was not the case. For these two older Dragon Quest — or I guess Dragon Warrior as they were called in North America at the time of their release — titles, I went to my local retro game shop and found them pretty easily. While I could have just waited until the Nintendo Switch ports were announced, their artwork is different and that version of Dragon Quest III doesn’t have in-battle sprite animations, although they are cheaper than the Game Boy version if you’re on a budget and still looking to play them.
Only Two Remain
Now all I had left were Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen and Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (or Realms of Reverie in some territories). I had seen Dragon Quest VI go in and out of another local game store relatively frequently, so I was pretty sure if it was the right week that I could just get it when I finally felt like it. Waiting actually turned out to be a mistake since it was gone once I finally felt like grabbing it and it has remained elusive. A real shame since a party character from Dragon Quest VI, Terry, the lone swordsman, was the first Dragon Quest character I was exposed to since his younger self the main character of the first Dragon Quest Monsters. Dragon Quest IV is a somewhat similar if less interesting case, as the copy I saw when I purchased Dragon Quest V was the only one I’ve seen.
The Journey Continues
While I can’t seem to find Dragon Quest IV or VI no matter how often I look for them at retro game stores or various conventions, and I can’t get Dragon Quest X unless the hypothetical offline localized version becomes a reality or if I learn more Japanese, I’m glad that I went to seek out these titles. Of course, seeking out the physical versions isn’t something for everyone and there are still the mobile versions and Nintendo Switch ports of the first three games if you’re interested and don’t mind a bit of a graphical style change. Otherwise, you could just buy all the games online, but they’ll likely be more expensive. If you’ve never played a Dragon Quest game before and are interested, I’d recommend the ten hour demo of Dragon Quest XI S before you decide to purchase any. One day I plan to finish all these games, if only I could find the time between all the new releases!
Dragon Quest XI S, Dragon Quest,Dragon Quest II, and Dragon Quest III are all available on Nintendo Switch. The enhanced versions of Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest VIII are available on Nintendo 3DS. Dragon Quest VIII is also available on mobile devices. Dragon Quest IV, Dragon Quest V, and Dragon Quest VI are available on mobile devices as well as Nintendo DS.