The first in the groundbreaking Dragon Quest series, Dragon Quest I (called Dragon Warrior in the US 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.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rises above the level of Excuse Plot, but considering it was essentially the first to even try to on a console (it was originally made in 1986), it was incredibly groundbreaking at the time. Essentially the first console RPG. Especially as Nintendo gave away copies to people who made subscriptions to Nintendo Power. The console RPG craze began because Nintendo had so little faith in the genre's appeal to Western audiences that they were giving away cartridges to bolster magazine sales. And it worked — this was pretty much the first console RPG a lot of people ever played, and it seems a lot of people liked it.In Japan, meanwhile... well, it simply began everything. It was there in the right time and place 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. It influenced every single RPG produced in Japan in its wake, effectively without exception.
American Kirby Is Hardcore: The 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.
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 apparently defeating the boss results in the elimination of all his Mooks.
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 Chosen One: You play as the descendant of your country's legendary hero.
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: 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 also take the time to rib you if you decide to not rescue the Princess at all.
Dub Name Change: Loto was renamed Erdrick, Lars was renamed Lorik, Dracolord was renamed as the Dragonlord, and Lora was renamed Gwaelin.
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 that 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 magazine.
You also can run into a character named Howard, who is named after Nester's partner in the comic.
Forced Level Grinding: If there wasn't any in this game, you'd likely be able to beat it in half an hour.
In fact, 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.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the 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. Talk about Pimpin'.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The "Superdragon" at the end of the Japanese version. This was changed in the English release to the Dragonlord's One-Winged Angel form, which was considered such a good change that every subsequent appearance of the character even in Japan, including all the Mon games where he's recruitable, has used this version.
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.
Level Cap: You stop learned 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 (at that point, you'll be one-hitting most enemies outside Charlock Castle). If you reach the level cap of 30 in the NES version, the king will ask why you haven't yet slain the Dragonlord.
Luck-Based Mission: The final boss fight. The Dragonlord's defense is so high that regular attacks might barely do 10 damage. However, critical hits ignore defense and can inflict 100+ damage at this point in the game. The entire fight essentially consists of praying for enough critical hits to hose him before your healing magic runs out.
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.)
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).
No Ontological Inertia: The second the final boss is defeated, random encounters vanish and the poisonous swamps are replaced with pretty flowers.
Nonstandard 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.
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.
Trope Codifier: While not exactly the first of it's 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 allnote However, that being said, the only character completely immune to both Sleep and Stopspell is the Dragonlord (both forms, and the second form is technically moot anyway, as it doesn't use any spells). While some enemies are completely immune to Sleep, no other enemies are completely immune to Stopspell: casting it enough WILL force it to work eventually...though you may die before that.
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 in the GB remake), you get a Nonstandard 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.
The armor was crafted by fairies, and the sword made of a nearly-indestructible (and magical) metal. The shield, on the other hand, had nothing particularly special about it, other than being a well-crafted shield. It was likely destroyed by the Dragonlord.