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Dragon Quest I, II, and III review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

In their ongoing effort to (thankfully) inundate us with Dragon Quest games this year, publisher/developer Square Enix recently released ports of the first three Dragon Quest games to the Nintendo Switch. Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line, and Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation, are all now available for individual purchase via the Nintendo Switch eShop. If you’ve enjoyed Dragon Quest Builders II from earlier this year, or are still in the midst of your adventure with Dragon Quest XI, you might be curious to see where it all started, and as a trilogy, I do think the original games are worth checking out.

All three are very much a product of their time, the original Dragon Quest sort of drew the template for what Japanese RPG’s became, pre-dating the first Final Fantasy, and having limited success in the West despite the free Nintendo Power giveaway that accompanied its original launch. Personally, I had never played the NES versions of Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior) past the first game, and didn’t get around to playing a port of Dragon Quest III until 10 or so years ago, so it was nice to revisit these three titles. 

While Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II can feel a bit dated from a story and mechanic perspective, I think most modern RPG fans will be pleasantly surprised by Dragon Quest III, and it’s definitely the stand-out title amongst the three games. It has a much heavier focus on story, NPC interaction, and world exploration than the two games that preceded it. It feels like a more satisfying experience overall, and if you were only going to buy one of these three releases, Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation should absolutely be the one you go for.

As far as presentation goes, all three games don’t really have supplemental material or any additional features worth noting. It’d be nice to see that stuff here, but don’t go in expecting much past the actual port. These ports are based on the mobile releases from a while back, and while absolutely competent on the performance side, they lack the bells and whistles found in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy releases (3x speed, skip battles, etc). I’m also not a huge fan of the character sprites that carried over from the mobile version of the game, they’re a little too shiny and glossed over compared to the backgrounds and dungeons, which are more in line with the pixel-based look of the original games. 

I still think the three games are worth checking out though, if for no other reason than a short stroll down memory lane. Dragon Quest III holds up extremely well, and the first two games aren’t particularly long or challenging if you want to see what they have to offer. The first two titles are also neat companion pieces to the Dragon Quest Builder games available on Switch since the Builder games play off the story line’s of the first two Dragon Quest releases. So yeah, if you manage to find some free time in this busy holiday release schedule, check out these fun throwbacks, you won’t be disappointed. 

Note: Square Enix provided us with a Dragon Quest I, II, and III codes for review purposes.

Grade: B+