Video Game: Dragon Quest I

The first in the groundbreaking Dragon Quest series, Dragon Quest I (titled Dragon Warrior in North America when it was first brought over) is the story of the descendant of Erdrick, who has been summoned by the king of Alefgard to rescue his daughter and defeat the Dragonlord, who is threatening the kingdom and has stolen the legendary Ball of Light.

Yeah, that's pretty much it. It barely rises above the level of Excuse Plot, but considering it was essentially the first to even try to on a console, as it was first released in 1986, it was incredibly groundbreaking at the time, being essentially the first console RPG.

In America, it didn't make very much of a splash, in part because it arrived much later than it did in Japan - America didn't see it until 1989, at which point the Anglophone RPG scene had already moved past the game that had inspired DQ1's creation in turn. (This would become an unfortunate theme for the franchise outside of Japan.) Despite this, Nintendo did try very hard to push the game, giving out copies to subscribers of Nintendo Power and giving the game a ton of attention in said magazine. It proved decently popular, but the "hardcore" RPG players of America derided it for its simplicity compared to the Ultima and Gold Box releases of the time.

In Japan, however, Dragon Quest simply began everything. It was there at the right time and place - Japan of 1986 - to get millions of people playing it, being a simple enough game for a child to play but long and difficult enough for even an adult to appreciate. While it isn't quite the true Ur-Example and Trope Codifier for the Japanese RPG - that would be its second successor - said successor would never have happened without this game, and it still had, and continues to have, a massive influence on the Japanese video game zeitgeist.

The game's release history is absolutely enormous - in Japan. In the '80s and '90s it was ported to virtually every platform imaginable - the MSX, the PC-98, the Sharp X68000, the Super Famicom, and Satellaview... the SFC port is notable, however, for introducing some significant graphical and performance updates to the game. America never saw any of this; when a Game Boy Color port was produced in 1999, America received it a year later... and then that was it, despite a feature-phone version coming out in 2004 and the entire Loto trilogy getting a multi-version port archive release on the Wii in 2011. In 2013, a SFC-based smartphone version was produced, and this was released to the wider English-speaking world with an updated translation.

This game has the Trope Namers for:

A List of Tropes draws near! Command?

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The cost of staying at an inn is directly proportional with the distance you have to travel from Tantagel castle to get there.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The North American box art depicts the same scene as the Japanese box — the blue-and-red hero, the Green Dragon, and a castle — but with realistically proportioned characters and a broader color palette.
  • Artifact of Death: The Cursed/Death Necklace and the Cursed Belt. Oddly enough, if you don't equip them, shopkeepers pay good money for them. Considering how early you can acquire them, it's reasonable to repeatedly enter the (low-leveled) dungeon to acquire more belts to sell for lots of cash.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Flame Sword is the single most expensive weapon in the game, and costs a lot of money in an area where monsters don't drop much of it (compared to other areas). By the time you're actually able to afford the Flame Sword, you'll likely be strong enough to get the Erdrick/Loto Sword, which is even better. Another issue with the Flame Sword in the remakes is its special ability when used as an item, the only piece of equipment to have this ability. It fires off a damage spell in between the strengths of the standard attack magic. The problem? Simply wielding the Flame Sword and using the regular attack will overpower this ability.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Princess Laura shares one with the hero after he saves her from the dragon.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Completely averted by the shops and marketplaces in villages. Any time you step through a door, rather than being taken to a separate screen, the surrounding area goes black and its roof essentially turns invisible, allowing you to see the inside.
  • Boring Return Journey: The game does not conclude with the defeat of the Big Bad. You complete the game by returning to visit the king. You can go anywhere you like before doing this, including visiting towns to receive thanks from all the people you've saved. While getting to the Big Bad involves thousands of random battles, after his defeat, there are none to be found, even in the dungeons, since defeating the Dragonlord gives you the stolen Ball of Light, which essentially saves the realm.
  • But Thou Must: The line itself comes from talking to the princess after you save her. She asks: "Dost thou love me?" The answer to saying no is: "But thou must," and her asking again until you pick yes. The remakes remove the illusion of choice entirely.
    Gwaelin: Oh! I'm so happy!!
  • The Chosen One: You play as the descendant of your country's legendary hero.
  • Clingy Costume: "The Cursed Belt is squeezing thee tightly."
  • Depending on the Writer: The hero is either from a small village in Torland who washed up on the shores of Alefgard (Alfregard in the GBC version) or an Alefgard native who had been training for the day he might be able to fight. Either way, he was already aware of his lineage, despite not having any way to prove it until he found his ancestor's seal in a perilous poison swamp. You'd think they'd keep family trees. At least his descendants actually had his gear as family treasures.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • In the remakes, if you are carrying the princess with you to Charlock Castle and talk to the Dragonlord, he actually thanks you for saving him the trouble of having her transported there.
    • The game will take the time to rib you if you decide to not rescue the Princess at all.
  • Dub Name Change: In the NES version Loto was renamed "Erdrick", Lars was renamed "Lorik", Dracolord was renamed as "The Dragonlord", and Lora was renamed "Gwaelin". Furthermore, Radatome was renamed "Tantegel", and several other towns were renamed as well (such as Mercado becoming "Cantlin"). Later versions of the game, as well as fan translations, went a little back and forth on keeping the altered names, going back to originals, or coming up with further alterations, although the most recent smartphone version retains all of the NES names.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: This is the only game in the series with only one player character, and the only installment in which dungeons are not naturally lit, necessitating a torch or the never-again-seen Radiant spell to navigate. It's also far more open-ended than subsequent games in the series: the only place you cannot go to at the beginning of the game is the Dragonlord's island, though a generous helping of Beef Gate makes toddling down to Rimuldar, Hauksness or Cantlin right out the gate extremely impractical.
  • Easter Egg:
    • In the original NES version, there are many references to people looking for "Nester", until you eventually find him and he asks if anyone has been searching for him. Nester was the name of a comic strip character in Nintendo Power (For a while it was also the name entered by players at the magazine for games that let you name your character, as could be seen in the screencaps used in the articles).
    • You also can run into a character named Howard, who is named after Nester's partner in the comic.note 
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Dragonlord.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
    • The basic damage spell in the NES version is called HURT. It hurts enemies. The stronger version is called HURTMORE. It hurts enemies more.
    • You are on a quest to slay a dragon/a warrior who slays dragons.
  • Fisher King: Defeat the Dragonlord, and not only do all of the other monsters disappear from the game, but the poisonous swamps will be replaced by fields of flowers in the remakes.
  • Flaming Sword: The second most powerful weapon you can wield. The best one is Erdrick's Sword.
  • Forced Level Grinding: If there wasn't any in this game, you'd likely be able to beat it in half an hour. For example, people have run thousands of simulations on emulators, and determined that the Dragonlord is completely impossible to defeat at level 17 or below in the NES version, since you absolutely must have Healmore to stand a chance against the Dragonlord's dragon form. However, with a tool-assisted run, manipulating luck beyond reasonable means, the game can be completed at level 7.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In the SNES remake's first town, you can meet up with an ardent female admirer who will "tag along." If you spend a night while she's with you, the dialog strongly suggests you and the admirer had a night of wild sex. This can also happen while you are escorting Princess Lora.
    Innkeeper: Good morning. You were up late!
    • The Japanese version is even more explicit: "It sounded like you had fun last night."
    • In the GBC version, you can actually spend the night at the inn with both of them in tow and the above message will occur.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: There is an extremely persistent rumor that, in the Japanese version, the Dragonlord does not actually turn into a dragon, and instead the final boss is his pet dragon who attacks the hero after the Dragonlord is slain. This is false, however. In both the English and Japanese versions, it's a straight up One-Winged Angel scenario.
  • The (Green) Dragon: A Green Dragon guards the only route to the princess. Later you'll probably encounter more green dragons, but none of them are fixed encounters.
  • Guide Dang It: Your name actually affects your base stats and stat growth.
  • Heroic Mime: Subverted at the very end of the game.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: There's two of them in this one, but for different categories. The Flaming Sword is your sword version, with a +28 boost to your attack and has a special action when used as an item. The magic armor is your armor version, with a +24 boost to your armor and gives you a Healing Factor of one Hit Point regained every four steps. And what could be better than that?
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Erdrick's Sword and Armor, that's what! They give you a +40 Attack bonus and a +28 bonus to armor, respectively. The armor quadruples the rate of your Healing Factor to one Hit Point healed every step, while the sword was just plain cool in addition to being powerful. Erdrick's Armor also comes with the added ability to remove all damage taken while moving across poison tiles as well, granting access to the hidden item Erdrick's Token. This is needed to complete the game.
  • Level Cap: You stop learning new spells at level 20, and the experience required to reach the next level increases extremely fast for each subsequent level. Given that you can beat the Dragonlord at level 19 (with some luck), anything beyond about level 25 is overkill anyway, though.note  If you reach the level cap of 30 in the NES version, the king will ask why you haven't yet slain the Dragonlord.
  • Level Grinding: So much in the NES version.
  • Magic Knight: You, obviously. This game established all three traditions of making the player character a Magic Knight, tying when you learn spells to your level and learning Heal at level 3 as your first spell. The spells are:
    • Healing Hands (Heal and Healmore, learned at levels 3 and 17, respectively).
    • Playing with Fire (Hurt and Hurtmore (Firebal and Firebane in the GBC version), learned at levels 4 and 19, respectively).
    • Standard Status Effects (Sleep, learned at level 7, and actually useful for once).
    • Anti-Magic (Stopspell, learned at level 10).
    • Teleportation (Outside and Return, learned at levels 12 and 13, respectively. Outside simply teleports you out of whatever cave you're in, while Return takes you all the way back to the town where you start the game).
    • There's also a spell called Repel which lowers the rate of Random Encounters, learned at level 15.
  • Market-Based Title: The original release and the Game Boy Color re-release were titled Dragon Warrior due to TSR holding the trademark to Dragon Quest. Since Square Enix has subsequently acquired the trademark from them, any future release would bear the DQ name.
  • Mascot Mook: Slimes (though several others, including wyverns/chimerae and drakees/drackys, give them a run for their money).
  • Metal Slime: The Trope Namer, also the Goldman/Gold Golem.
  • Money Spider: That the Goldman/Gold Golem gives a lot of wealth upon defeat makes sense. That it's all in coinage does not. Everything else also drops coins.
  • Multiple Endings: There's one bad ending (try to join the Dragonlord) and three good endings: save the princess and return her to the King before defeating the Dragonlord, return the princess after defeating the Dragonlord, or don't save the princess. The (minimalist) end game cut scene varies a bit for each ending. In the last one, the hero travels off to far-off lands alone.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted, which is surprising for its era. Thou art dead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Dragon Quest III, it is revealed that the Golem that you defeated was created by one of Cantlin's/Mercado's townspeople to protect the town. Oops.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The second the final boss is defeated, random encounters vanish and the poisonous swamps are replaced with pretty flowers.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you accept the Dragonlord's offer to rule together in the NES version, you get a badly translated speech, the text turns your-HP-are-low red, and the game freezes. This was changed in the remakes.
  • One-Winged Angel: "The Dragonlord hath revealed his true self!"
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Dragonlord pretty much just sits in his castle all game and waits for you to come and kick his arse. In his case, it's justified because he has already won. Townspeople can't venture out of their towns for fear of his legions of monsters, the king is powerless to stop him because he has the princess, and there's no one able to challenge him. The player is literally the last hope, and at the start of the adventure, has trouble fighting slimes. Why worry about his chances?
  • Palette Swap: Only the Dragonlord gets an exclusive sprite in-battle.
  • The Power of Love: Once the hero has rescued the princess, he can take her love with him wherever he goes, and use it like a GPS. This comes in handy for finding one particular quest item.
  • Recurring Riff: Many of the game's tunes (most prominently, the main theme and the level up theme) are used in all the subsequent installments, with the main theme gaining a new intro in IV and another new intro in IX. The game over theme has begun to make a comeback in more recent games as well after II, and several installments after it used longer and more complex game over tracks.
  • Rescue Romance: The princess falls in love with the hero the moment he comes in to save her. Eventually, he has no choice but to reciprocate.
  • Scaled Up: See One-Winged Angel above.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: While not technically a sequel, as it is actually a remake, the GB release of Dragon Quest (I & II) made EXP and GP gains much greater from any given enemy.
  • So Near Yet So Far: Princess Gwaelin is in the Marsh Cave that you enter early on in the game. The reason you can't rescue her the first time you enter is because one, you do not have a key, which is required to open up the door to her cell; and two, there's a dragon guarding said door that you won't be able to beat at your current level and equipment.
  • Sorcerous Overlord
  • Surprisingly Good Shakespearean
  • Trope Codifier: While not exactly the first of its kind, Ultima and Wizardry came first, Dragon Quest is nonetheless the first instance of a Japanese RPG, and cemented a number of traditions that remain in the genre (such as a pre-defined character, relative linearity, and so on).
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • Averted! The good news: Yuji Horii was, and more than likely still is, a fan of 'Wizardry and Ultima'', both of which had useful status spells. Mute/Stopspell and Sleep were two very handy spells taken from them. The bad news? Your enemies can also use them.
    • The Ax Knight, which guards your armor, tends to cast sleep and constantly attack while you are sleeping. This alone shows that the status effect is very dangerous. Probably only to you, though, due to Contractual Boss Immunity. Once you reach this point in the game, very few enemies will succumb to the effect, and the Dragonlord never will at all.note 
  • We Can Rule Together: The Dragonlord makes this offer to you when you confront him. Most players just select no and get on with the battle, but if you accept, and you must accept more than once, you get a Non-Standard Game Over (except in the SNES version where he wakes up in a town near the Big Bad's castle, where the innkeeper says that he had a Bad Dream). This is quite jarring, considering the time it took to get to the castle and then go down to the lowest floor. The Dragonlord then says "I Can Rule Alone," though; the very next thing you see is red text.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Where's Loto's Shield (i.e. the Shield of Heroes)? The absence of his helmet was understandable, since it was just an iron mask, but the shield was a special magical talisman like the sword and armor.
  • With This Herring: Let's put it this way: your first set of armor is called "clothes". Which you start the game without. This had led some amused players to believe you're having audiences with the king and fighting slimes in your bare butt until you get it.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The original game had enough Faux English to make any classical English scholar shaketh in his boots-th. It was dropped in the Game Boy Color remake, though.