Console Quest (II) – Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior (1986)

This is the second in an indefinite series of essays of ill-defined length and questionable quality. The net purpose is to cover a history of Console Role Playing Games (CRPGs) from a certain perspective: namely my own relationship to them. In theory, new updates will come every Monday (and maybe again on Tuesday).

And now, let the memories begin.

Nintendo Entertainment System
Two buttons?  What am I going to do with two buttons?  That’s a surplus of buttons, is what that is.

When I was kid (no dinosaur cracks, please) there was two constant attributes that defined your console system.  The first was that  your parents bought that system for you and now regretted doing so, as nothing else ever was done except video game playing.  The second was that your system was the best ever and that anyone who said otherwise was either a liar or a fool  trying not to cry ’cause their system sucked.  At least, that was the case for me.  You could have put up statistical evidence and photos proving that, say, the ColecoVision was the greatest system out there and I wouldn’t believe you.  Atari 2600 was the best there was.  Period.  End of line.

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was different.  For starters, I was unaware that there was another system out there.  (Sorry, Sega Master System.)  But mainly, and this was the important detail here, it was the first game system I bought for myself with my own money.  Well, technically Brother Eric pooled his funds in with mine, but you catch my drift.  Back then we did sick kids’ paper routes for them and we made the pretty penny.

This came with its own little problems.  Unlike with the Atari 2600, the games we played kicked our butts without us ever seeming to improve.  Eric swore up and down that the games cheated while, as I mentioned last time, I became convinced I (make that we) sucked at the things.  This, needless to say, didn’t stop us from trying our best, but I’m convinced that, had things not changed significantly, I wouldn’t be playing video games now.

Now before we discuss what brought this change about, let me make a most painful confession: for once in his life, Eric was right.  The games were cheating.  Or rather were entirely too hard to play.  This issue even developed into a term: Nintendo Hard.

There really wasn’t much of an excuse for doing this.  I’m not saying games shouldn’t be challenging; they should be.  They should also be possible for most kids and not for those who somehow had the free time to luckin to victory master the skills needed to win.

And for God’s sake, there should have been a way to shoot the dog in Duck Hunt.  That damn thing was asking for it.  You know it, I know it, the programmers had to of known it.


I’m not saying that Nintendo Hard had any effect on our game buying habits.  Our little paper route job had its ups and downs, and we didn’t always have money to burn.  That and we were also buying things like Role Playing Game (RPG) books and comics.  However, it might have kept us from buying a whole slew of games, like we had done with the Atari 2600.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying I never owned the game that changed my life, at least not on the system it debuted on.  We rented it from our local video rental outlet.  As I recall, only a handful of times , and never often enough to win it.

It didn’t matter.  Playing Dragon Quest changed my life.  Just like it changed a lot of people’s lives.


6 Replies to “Console Quest (II) – Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior (1986)”

  1. Another insightful article. What I’m loving about this series is the combination review, history lesson, and personal nostalgia. I could list off a bunch of games we owned as kids, but I have to point out that we did actually own Dragon Warrior. It was DW 2 and 3 we never owned. By the way, I still rank DW 4 as one of the greatest games of all time, with DW 3 only slightly behind it. If you can get ahold of them, the Gameboy Color DW 3 and especially the Nintendo DS version of DW 4 are both amazing. They retain almost all of the charm of their predecessors… except they’re easier to play (much better controls, I mean), and they’re not Nintendo hard.

  2. Um, no. We never had DW 1. We had DW 2. We bought it shortly after coming to Des Moines. It should be in the basement somewhere iffin you need proof.

    And if you were implying we owned DW 4, then I have to say sorry, but no. No, I don’t think so. 🙂

    1. I just noticed – there were FOUR buttons on the NES controller, not 2. Granted, there were fewer buttons on the console itself, but how many of those Atari 2600 switches were actually useful? Games themselves controlled difficulty, so the difficulty switches weren’t needed. The B/W switch was useless – you flicked it once, depending on if you had a color or black and white TV. So the only extra button on the NES controller that wasn’t on the Atari somewhere and was still needed was the Select button… so, there were three more buttons than we thought we needed when we first got it.

      Sorry; I just thought of that.

      Also: I thought we bought DW4, and only rented 3. I’m still mad at you for deleting my save, by the way.


        Whatever happened to not bearing a grudge, huh? 😀

        On the buttons – I don’t think that would have entered my head as a younger me. I’d have assumed they had the same function as those switches on the 2600

        (Now that I think about it, my SNES Final Fantasy 3 was deleted “mysteriously” that one time. I wonder…. o_O >:-( 😀 )

        (And that’s officially the most smileys I’ve ever used in a comment or post. Um… go me?)

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