Dragon Quest

From Dragon Quest Wiki
This article is about the original game in the Dragon Quest series. For series information, see Dragon Quest (series).

Dragon Quest (ドラゴンクエスト Doragon Kuesuto) is the original Dragon Quest game which preceded the entire Dragon Quest series. It was developed by Enix and released in 1986 in Japan for the MSX and Famicom consoles. The game was localized for North American release in 1989, but the title was changed to Dragon Warrior to avoid infringing on the trademark of the pen and paper game DragonQuest. The North American version of the game was greatly improved graphically over the Japanese original, and added a battery backed-up save feature and 5 password systems, whereas the Japanese version used a password system. Nintendo was impressed with the Japanese sales of the title and massively overproduced the cartridge; the end result was that Nintendo gave away copies of Dragon Warrior as an incentive for subscribing to Nintendo Power, the company's in-house promotions magazine.

Dragon Quest was the first turn-based role playing game to debut on a video game console and is considered a pioneer in the development of the genre. Dragon Quest's immense success proved that RPGs had a place in the industry, and would spawn a successful franchise that would become one of the de facto standards for role playing video games.


Dragon Quest was developed to be simple enough for anyone to understand its intricacies, but also captivating enough to compel players to explore every inch of its digital surface.

The player controls a single character who is able to travel around the world on a quest to defeat the Dragonlord, traversing an immense country and visiting numerous towns. He can equip various weapons and armour and battle enemy monsters in one-on-one, turn-based combat. As more enemies are defeated, the Hero becomes stronger and able to explore greater distances as he completes his quest. Ultimately, the Hero must confront the Dragonlord in his citadel, marking the end of his adventure. The basic gameplay formula used in Dragon Quest would be replicated countless times in similar RPG titles on home consoles after its release.

Differences from later games

  • The stat improvement algorithms depend on the player's name, deciding if the player will be more proficient in Strength, Agility, or magic (MP).
  • There is no party, only a single player character.
  • Although his sprite changes when the princess is rescued, to show him carrying her, the princess does not participate in any battle.
  • Enemies attack the Hero 1-on-1, never in groups.
  • There are no vehicles; one can only traverse the overworld map on foot, or by using a Chimaera wing or Zoom spell to travel to Tantegel Castle.
  • Tantegel is the only save location in the game. Likewise, the Zoom spell can only return to Tantegel. This is because the spell's Japanese name, rura, derives from the English word Ruler.
  • Acquired weapons, armor and shields will automatically replace the previous item, which is then discarded or sold to the store. This is changed in the remakes.
  • Keys are consumed when used; new ones can be purchased at one of the "key houses" in Tantegel, Rimuldar, or Mercado. The first key in any quest must be purchased in Rimuldar, since the others are behind doors that require a key to open.
  • There are separate shops for buying Holy water, unlike later games where it is sold in item shops.
  • Caves are dark, and must be lit up with a Torch or the Glow spell. These have limited range, which diminishes as the spell or torch wears out. The range is effectively reduced in the remakes, since the scale of the caves is larger, but the range is not increased to compensate.



Warning: Spoilers!
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Long before the game begins, a man named Erdrick returned peace to the land of Alefgard by defeating a great demon. The peace came in the form of the sacred Ball of Light. Erdrick returned to the King with the Ball of Light and there were great festivals and celebrations. Eventually, Erdrick took his leave and was never seen again. Years passed and the people prospered, but one person was not happy with the way things were. He lived in the western mountain cave, far from Tantegel's walls. While exploring deep within the cave, he came across a sleeping dragon. Suddenly, the dragon awoke and the man was very frightened. As he closed his eyes to stop himself from seeing his demise, nothing happened. The man grew tired of waiting and threw a stick to distract it. To his surprise, the dragon picked it up in his mouth and brought it back to the man, like a dog. After that he discovered he could make the dragon do whatever he wanted. He then named himself the Dragonlord. Suddenly, a disaster occurred: Charlock Castle rose from its dirt grave, and everyone knew this was a bad omen. A few minutes later a swarm of Slimes, Ghosts, Dragons and other monsters attacked Tantegel and the villages across Alefgard. Though they fought bravely, the years of peace had made the people weak. The Ball of Light was stolen by the Dragonlord.

After this terrible attack the people were terrified to walk outside again. Many men were killed traveling between places and people locked their doors at night. At night, they could hear the Slimes scratching and mumbling along the walls of Tantegel. The King fell into a deep depression over his kidnapped daughter, even though the legends told of a descendant of Erdrick coming to restore peace. The King believed it to be a myth until one day a scrawny-looking young man appeared at the King's feet and asked permission to retrieve the Ball of Light and Princess Gwaelin. Since many other hapless warriors had volunteered and failed, the King had already given up hope. But he saw a light in this young man's eyes and knew he was the descendant of Erdrick. Giving him a few items and some gold, the King sent the warrior out.

After traveling the length and breadth of Alefgard and becoming more and more powerful, the Hero eventually discovered Princess Gwaelin in the clutches of a Green dragon, who was hiding her in a cave. After slaying the dragon, the Hero lifted her onto his back and carried her all the way back to Tantegel, to the delirious joy of everyone there.

Finally, after strengthening himself through all the battles he had fought and the mystical items he had uncovered, including Erdrick's own sword, the Hero entered Charlock Castle, the Dragonlord's domain, and killed him, temporarily freeing Alefgard from the terror of evil. Gwaelin proposed to him and King King Lorik offered him the throne; he accepted the former offer but declined the latter, opting instead to venture to lands unknown and establish his own kingdom.


Influence on the Video Game Industry

Dragon Quest allowed players to assume the role of a Hero and live out his adventure.

Before the release of Dragon Quest, the video game marketplace consisted of fast-paced, reflex dependent action titles. The majority of these were originally developed as arcade quarter-munchers, and retained the immense difficulty of such even when ported to a home console. Storytelling was sparse, if text was even programmed into a game, and titles relied on the player's imagination to fill in the gaps.

When Yuji Horii's dream project proved to be a smashing success, the entire perception of what a video game could be changed. Countless RPGs flooded store shelves to cash in on the newfound hype surrounding the genre, and action titles began to experiment with deeper plotlines and character interaction instead of merely pushing level complexity.

A humble title from a small publishing company changed everything for games.


Main article: Dragon Quest I & II

Being the original game in the series, Dragon Quest has been remade and re-released on a variety of different platforms; most notably for the Super Famicom. Most of the remakes feature localizations which differ from the original, as well as additional features such as an item/gold vault and streamlined menu system. Other changes include tweaks to the leveling system to make it easier to gain levels without excessive grinding. Most fans consider almost all remakes to be easier than the original release for this reason. See List of version differences in Dragon Quest I for a listing of version differences.

Note that only some of the remakes have been released outside of Japan. For a full list of releases and dates, visit List of games.

Broadcast Satellaview version

A special free version of the game known as BS Dragon Quest was available to play on the Satellaview peripheral during the early months of 1996. This version of the game used the art assets of the 16-bit remake, included voiced dialog for additional scenes, and additional features not seen in any other version since.


Dragon Quest was closely followed by Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line which met with similar success. Dragon Quest II featured the same timeline and setting as the original, a concept which was further extended into Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation. Together, the first three games comprise what is known as the Erdrick trilogy. All three games were designed for the Famicom/NES and share similar artistic styles.

Recurring monsters

As the first game in the series, Dragon Quest introduced several monsters that proved instant favorites among fans. In particular, the Slime, Dracky, and Chimaera are featured in almost every other game in the main series and spinoffs.


Original Famicom version
Role Staff
Scenario writer Yuji Horii
Character design Akira Toriyama
Music composer Kōichi Sugiyama
Programming Koichi Nakamura
Koji Yoshida
Takenori Yamamori
CG design Takashi Yasuno
Scenario assistant Hiyoshi Miyaoka
Assistant Rika Suzuki
Tadashi Fukuzawa
Title screen design Kazuo Enomoto
Instruction manual illustrator Takayuki Doi
Special thanks Kazuhiko Torishima
Director Koichi Nakamura


Dragon Quest jp manual art.png
  • Despite the iron helmet, leather hat, and helm of Ortega being featured in official illustrations, there is no equipment slot for helmets. It is assumed that these helms are included in the armor sets.
  • In the original versions, there are special menu commands to climb stairs and open chests (done automatically in later games), and in the Japanese version to select directions for certain commands, since characters do not have facings in these versions.
  • The original Japanese Famicom and MSX versions of this game (and Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line) have a Spell of Health Multiplication (password system), in place of the "Imperial Scrolls of Honor" (battery save system). The password does not save current HP and MP, or the contents of the chests. So all of these will be reset on a reload.
  • Whether a treasure chest has been opened or not is never recorded. By reloading the game, you can collect a chest multiple times.
  • The Game Boy Color release had a more direct translation of many character and town names.
  • Erdrick's Sword is used during an optional boss fight in Final Fantasy XII and is also the prize for winning that battle. This also marks the first time the mix of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest has happened in the light of both Square and Enix merging to be noticed in the Western world (though the crossover had happened a few times previously in the Fortune Street series).


Kōichi Sugiyama served as composer for the soundtrack. He would go on to write most of the music for the entire Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest I's symphonic suite was bundled with Dragon Quest II's symphonic suite and a disc of original compositions as Dragon Quest in Concert. Here is the track listing for the Dragon Quest I portion of that release:

  1. Overture March (序曲/Overture) (3:59)
  2. Château Ladutorm (ラダトーム城/Castle Ladutorm) (3:25)
  3. People (街の人々/People of the Town) (3:36)
  4. Unknown World (広野を行く/Going to the Plain) (2:07)
  5. Fight (戦闘/Fight) (2:12)
  6. Dungeons (洞窟/Cave) (3:40)
  7. King Dragon (竜王/King Dragon) (3:08)
  8. Finale (フィナーレ/Finale) (2:40)