Dragon Quest was once nothing but a niche series outside of Japan, but the growth of the franchise in the West in recent years has been a very welcome surprise. While the Nintendo Switch is now getting the definitive version of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, Square Enix has also decided to dive into the past as well with ports of the original trilogy in the series. The three games previously released on mobile and then the PS4 and 3DS in Japan and now have made their way to the Nintendo Switch.
Originally known as simply Dragon Warrior I, II, and III when they first released on the NES in the West back in the day, this latest batch release on Nintendo Switch brings the games out as Dragon Quest I, Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line, and Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation. These games have been re-released many times over the years, with the mobile releases a number of years ago introducing upgraded characters sprites, which these versions are based upon.
This latest release for Nintendo Switch basically takes those previous PS4 releases that were based on the mobile and ports them over. This means that the games are still mostly what they were in their original release, but now with different character sprites and menus. The backgrounds still look as they did back in the day, but the characters models and menus overlaid on top of it throughout are much cleaner than they were on the NES.
The problem here is that the new sprites themselves may look cleaner, but they don’t quite fit in the game itself compared to the originals. This was a complaint people had on the mobile versions of these games and they carry over here as well. It feels like it would have fit in better if they were even upgraded to say like a 16-bit style rather than whatever you want to call the ones included in this game. They aren’t downright bad, but they certainly are a bit jarring compared to the 8-bit backgrounds that remain. The menus are definitely a nice upgrade though, so overall it’s more something you just have to get used to while playing.
While all three of these games can be fully enjoyed as standalone adventures, they form what is known as the Erdrick trilogy due to their lineage involving the character of Erdrick. This allows players to just pick up one of these games and enjoy it for what it is alone, while also being able to get all three and feel the level of connection between them from being set in the same world.
Dragon Quest I features the Hero the series is known for, a descendant of Erdrick, who must go on an adventure to stop the evil Dragonlord. The story here is pretty simplistic, but there is some lore to be found with Erdrick here in the game. Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line serves as a follow-up to the first game, though this time it is set 100 years later. Once again, you play as a descendant of Erdrick here, with an evil force disrupting the period of peace since the first game and now you have to go and try to bring peace to the land yet again.
Then comes Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation, which is easily the most ambitious and best of the trilogy. This one serves as a prequel to the first two games, actually putting you in control of the one who becomes known as Erdrick eventually. The adventure feels larger than ever here, with the series growing even further from that point forward.
While Dragon Quest III is the first game chronologically, you can either play it as originally released or go with the true chronological order, both ways of which are quite enjoyable. Dragon Quest III has always been one of the most well received entries in the series, so if you are only wanting to play one here, that’s definitely the one you’re going to want to go with f this trilogy.
Not only do you see a growth in the story as you advance through the trilogy of games, but the combat system also gets even better as well. The Dragon Quest series has always been known for its stellar turn-based gameplay, which is certainly present in all three games. However, what is very different are the elements surrounding the turn-based setup.
Dragon Quest I actually features something you rarely see in RPGs, where you play as only a single player in battle. This still works, but there’s no doubt it’s the weakest gameplay system in the group. Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line builds upon this foundation by introducing multiple playable characters, which is more in line with the future of the franchise. The third entry, Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation, took this even further by introducing a class based system that the series has featured all throughout the years since. A class system always adds another layer of depth to the gameplay and it makes the third game the best of the bunch not only in story, but also combat here without question.
While the Dragon Quest trilogy of games from the NES era may be old, that does not mean they are not worth checking out in the modern era of gaming. You can see the growth of the series even in just these three original NES titles alone, with the selling of them separately also allowing you to just pick up one if you so choose.
Even as turn-based RPGs, Dragon Quest I, Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line, and Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation didn’t quite work on mobile phones without a true controller, but they feel right at home on the Nintendo Switch to go as a perfect complement to the modern Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition.