The first in the groundbreaking ''Franchise/DragonQuest'' series, ''Dragon Quest I'' (titled ''[[MarketBasedTitle 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 [[MacGuffin Ball of Light]].

Yeah, that's pretty much it. It barely rises above the level of ExcusePlot, 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 [[RolePlayingGame 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 ''Magazine/NintendoPower'' 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 ''{{Franchise/Ultima}}'' and VideoGame/GoldBox 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 UrExample and TropeCodifier for the Japanese RPG - that would be [[VideoGame/DragonQuestIII 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 {{UsefulNotes/MSX}}, the UsefulNotes/PC98, the UsefulNotes/SharpX68000, the Super Famicom, and ''{{UsefulNotes/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 TropeNamers for:

* ButThouMust
* MetalSlime

!!A List of Tropes draws near! Command?

* AdamSmithHatesYourGuts: The cost of staying at an inn is directly proportional with the distance you have to travel from Tantagel castle to get there.
* AmericanKirbyIsHardcore: The [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/84/Dragon_Warrior.jpg/250px-Dragon_Warrior.jpg 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.
* ArtifactOfDeath: 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.
* AwesomeButImpractical: 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.
* TheBigDamnKiss: Princess Laura shares one with the hero after he saves her from the dragon.
* BiggerOnTheInside: 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.
* BoringReturnJourney: The game does not conclude with the defeat of the BigBad. 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 BigBad 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.
* ButThouMust: 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!!
* TheChosenOne: You play as the descendant of your country's legendary hero.
* ClingyCostume: "The Cursed Belt is squeezing thee tightly."
* DependingOnTheWriter: 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. [[HilariousInHindsight You'd think they'd keep family trees]]. At least ''his'' descendants actually had his gear as family treasures.
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything:
** 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''.
* DubNameChange: 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.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: 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 BeefGate makes that extremely impractical.
* EasterEgg:
** 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''.
** You also can run into a character named Howard, who is named after Nester's partner in the comic.[[note]]Himself named after Howard Phillips, executive and one of the original three "Gamemasters" of Nintendo of America.[[/note]]
* EvilSorcerer: The Dragonlord.
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin:
** 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.
* FisherKing: 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.
* FlamingSword: The second most powerful weapon you can wield. The best one is [[InfinityPlusOneSword Erdrick's Sword]].
* ForcedLevelGrinding: 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, [[http://tasvideos.org/1482M.html the game can be completed at level 7]].
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar:
** 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.
* GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere: 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 [[DragonTheirFeet attacks the hero after the Dragonlord is slain.]] This is false, however. In both the English and Japanese versions, it's a straight up OneWingedAngel scenario.
* [[TheDragon 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.
* GuideDangIt: Your name actually affects your base stats and stat growth.
* HeroicMime: Subverted at the very end of the game.
* InfinityMinusOneSword: There's two of them in this one, but for different categories. The FlamingSword 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 HealingFactor of one HitPoint regained every four steps. And what could be better than that?
* InfinityPlusOneSword: 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 HealingFactor to one HitPoint healed every step, while the sword was just plain {{cool|Sword}} 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.
* LevelCap: 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]]At this point, you'll be one-hitting most enemies outside Charlock Castle.[[/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.
* LevelGrinding: So much in the NES version.
* MagicKnight: You, obviously. This game established all three traditions of making the player character a MagicKnight, tying when you learn spells to your level and learning Heal at level 3 as your first spell. The spells are:
** HealingHands (Heal and Healmore, learned at levels 3 and 17, respectively).
** PlayingWithFire (Hurt and Hurtmore (Firebal and Firebane in the GBC version), learned at levels 4 and 19, respectively).
** StandardStatusEffects (Sleep, learned at level 7, [[UselessUsefulSpell and actually useful for once]]).
** AntiMagic (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 RandomEncounters, learned at level 15.
* MarketBasedTitle: The original release and the Game Boy Color re-release were titled ''Dragon Warrior'' due to [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons TSR]] holding the trademark to ''Dragon Quest''. Since Creator/SquareEnix has subsequently acquired the trademark from them, any future release would bear the ''DQ'' name.
* MascotMook: Slimes (though several others, including wyverns/chimerae and drakees/drackys, give them a run for their money).
* MetalSlime: The {{Trope Namer|s}}, also the Goldman/Gold Golem.
* MoneySpider: That the Goldman/Gold Golem gives a lot of wealth upon defeat makes sense. That it's [[FridgeLogic all in coinage does not.]] Everything else also drops coins.
* MultipleEndings: There's one [[NonStandardGameOver bad ending]] ([[spoiler:try to join the Dragonlord]]) and [[OlderThanTheyThink 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, [[CuttingOffTheBranches the hero travels off to far-off lands alone]].
* NeverSayDie: Averted, which is surprising for its era. ''Thou art dead''.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: In ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIII'', it is revealed that the Golem that you defeated [[spoiler:was created by one of Cantlin's/Mercado's townspeople to protect the town. Oops.]]
* NoOntologicalInertia: The second the final boss is defeated, random encounters vanish and the poisonous swamps are replaced with pretty flowers.
* NonStandardGameOver: [[spoiler: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.]]
* OneWingedAngel: "The Dragonlord hath revealed his true self!"
* OrcusOnHisThrone: 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?
* PaletteSwap: Only the Dragonlord gets an exclusive sprite in-battle.
* ThePowerOfLove: 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.
* RecurringRiff: 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.
%% * RegionalBonus: The American edition.
* RescueRomance: The princess falls in love with the hero the moment he comes in to save her. Eventually, [[ButThouMust he has no choice]] but to reciprocate.
* ScaledUp: See OneWingedAngel above.
* SequelDifficultyDrop: 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.
* SoNearYetSoFar: 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 [[BeefGate you won't be able to beat at your current level and equipment]].
* SorcerousOverlord
* [[SurprisinglyGoodEnglish Surprisingly Good Shakespearean]]
* TropeCodifier: While not exactly the first of its kind, ''VideoGame/{{Ultima}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{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).
* UselessUsefulSpell:
** 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 ContractualBossImmunity. Once you reach this point in the game, very few enemies will succumb to the effect, and the Dragonlord never will at all[[note]]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[[/note]].
* WeCanRuleTogether: 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 NonStandardGameOver (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 "ICanRuleAlone," though; the very next thing you see is red text.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: 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.
* WithThisHerring
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: The original game had enough Faux English to make any classical English scholar shaketh in his boots-th. It was dropped in the GameBoyColor remake, though.