Everything you need to know about Dragon Quest

The Roto/Erdrick/Loto Trilogy

Above: The first Dragon Quest box art

Unlike other RPG series, Dragon Quest has actual continuity between some of their titles, at least for the first six games, which comprised two trilogies. Thanks to multiple translations, the first trilogy of Dragon Quest games goes by several names, but Roto is probably the most technically correct. The tale of the first game focuses on the ancestor of the ancient hero Roto/Erdrick as he searches for the Dragon Lord to save the kidnapped princess. Once the noble guy takes the Dragon down and saves the land of Alefgard, he chooses to marry the girl and leaves to start his own kingdom.

Above: The heroes and villains of Dragon Quest II

Dragon Quest II picks up one hundred years later, and you start the game as the progeny of the first game’s hero in the new kingdom he started. Eventually you travel the world with your two cousins, as DQII is one of the first JRPGs to have a party system. And as you cover the globe you see that the land of the first DQ is just a small island nation in the huge new world you’re exploring. Once the evil wizard is defeated, peace reigns again.

Above: From the box art of the GBC version of Dragon Quest III

At first Dragon Quest III doesn’t seem to be part of the same series of games. The new, even bigger world looks nothing like the previous games’ world, and no one talks of Roto/Erdrick. But once you’ve and your party have mastered the game’s inventive class system, traversed the even bigger world and defeated seemingly the final boss, the truth is revealed. The true villain, an immortal dragon, pulls you to the land below the Earth’s crust, and wouldn’t you know it, it looks just like Alefgard. In a genuinely surprising turn, once you defeat the dragon, the people of that world give you the title of Erdrick/Roto and proclaim you their savior, making III a prequel to the first two games. Sorry for the 20 year-old spoilers.

Quest vs Warrior

When Enix decided to work with Nintendo to bring the first Dragon Quest to the USA, they really would’ve liked to have kept the name, but someone beat them to it. Table-top role-playing company TSR, publishers of Dungeon & Dragons, had another RPG line by the same name. To avoid any possible hassles, Enix decided to change the American name to Dragon Warrior, which would remain the label for the series until 2003.

Above: You be the judge on you got the better box art

Honestly, neither title is better than the other, and we’d be happy to still call it Dragon Warrior today, but it was not to be. Once Enix merged with its rival Squaresoft, they took an approach similar to what Square did with Final Fantasy VII: they reverted to the Japanese title and never looked back. Sure, this made Japan-o-philes who love correcting other gamers on titles happy, but there must be some older fans out there that didn’t catch the name change and wonder what happened to the Dragon Warrior games.

There is no Dragon Quest law

Here’s an urban myth that will not die: there’s a Japanese law that prohibits any new Dragon Quest game from coming out on a weekday. As the legend goes, Dragon Quest III was such an anticipated game that upon its weekday release, thousands of kids and adults played hooky to line-up for the game. The Japanese legislator was so concerned by this, they quickly drafted a law saying all future Dragon Quests must be released on weekends or holidays. It’s an interesting story and we all liked to believe that the series is so popular that there needs to be a law, but seriously, this rumor needs to die.

Above: A fraction of the people who lined up for Dragon Quest IX

What really happened isn’t that far off though. It is true that the demand for DQIII led to many kids skipping school to get the game, and perhaps there was growing public concern about it. But before any laws needed to be written, Enix themselves decided that all future DQs would be released on weekends and holidays, which has been the case ever since. Now that that’s cleared up, don’t go repeating that myth on message boards, please.


  • awsomemaster - July 11, 2010 3:29 p.m.

    ahh nothing quite as awesome as a slime!
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - July 11, 2010 5:58 p.m.

    well.. two slimes
  • NeoKef - July 11, 2010 6:17 p.m.

    Is it me or did the same artist who did the Dragon Ball series did the early art for Dragon Quest games?
  • NeoKef - July 11, 2010 6:23 p.m.

    Wait, let me rephrase: Did the same person who did the character designs for Dragon Ball work on the early Dragon Quest as well? The blue dragon on the first box art was in the DB series and the main character in III looks a lot like a teenage version of Goku.
  • CaseInPoint - July 11, 2010 6:48 p.m.

    @NeoKef: I think Akira Toriyama has been with Dragon Quest from the start of the series. And he also does the Dragon Ball series' art, so yes, the art styles are pretty much the same. I used to hate his art style, after watching Dragon Ball Z and hating it, but then DQ came along and I learned to love it. Recaptcha: "Vizier 70th". Sounds like a DQ boss. The chancellors to the throne are always bad!
  • Gobblemeister - July 11, 2010 7:26 p.m.

    I know little of Dragon Quest as a series. This being said when I bought DQVIII without really knowing what to expect I can say I was very pleasantly surprised. It reaffirmed my love of the turn based system and is, in my honest opinion, the greatest JRPG I have played second only to FFIX. MY interest has also been piqued by the review of DQV. If I can find the money to put into it I might try it. However, I've already put a lot of money into FF, buying XIII, III, IV and IX all in this year alone. But I'm always game for a great RPG.
  • chrisat928 - July 11, 2010 8:45 p.m.

    Goddamn it Square, put Dragon Quest VII on PSN.
  • Cleanser247 - July 11, 2010 8:54 p.m.

    The biggest slime on the railcar looks like he's got his mouth full of something... Good stuff Henry!
  • CH3BURASHKA - July 11, 2010 8:55 p.m.

    I love these history articles. Can you guys make it a monthly feature, a retrospective of sorts?
  • 2dboy - July 11, 2010 9:10 p.m.

    Nice reading, should get me ready to play DQ9.
  • EDfromRED - July 11, 2010 10:19 p.m.

    I didn't realize the wealth of RPGs on the Nintendo DS untill I looked up info on Dragon Quest V & IX. I might have to pick one up--might as well wait till 3DS arrives to get it or a Price cut DS. Any suggestions of other DS RPG's of note?
  • Chardan - July 11, 2010 10:28 p.m.

    I am definatley getting the new one now. I always stayed away from turn based RPG's due to the random encounter system, and favoured ones like Mario and Luigi where Enemies can be seen in the overworld, which makes all the difference for me, Cant wait.
  • Batman - July 12, 2010 1:37 a.m.

    Dragon Quest VIII was/is pure win.It was the last epic RPG IMO all rpgs since have been average at best.
  • Giinjii - July 12, 2010 1:43 a.m.

    Although Dragon Quest 8 was my first intro to the series, I loved the slimes right away and was jealous of my cousin that somehow obtained a PS2 slime controller. Also Mr. Gilbert, when will you be back on TalkRadar?
  • Vagrant - July 12, 2010 2:11 a.m.

    That was a pretty interesting article, I wish it included some screenshots though. Just to see the evolution of the series' graphics.
  • HotCyder - July 12, 2010 2:18 a.m.

    Don't forget! Akira Toriyama also did the artwork for another popular RPG from SquareEnix: Chrono Trigger! His artwork was even turned into fully animated cutscenes for the playstation reissue.
  • 8bitBaby - July 12, 2010 2:23 a.m.

    PAFU PAFU! @ U @ ~yeeeeeeeeee hee heeeee this is a good run through of the history. awesome. i came in at DQ3, it was the tv show that got me interested. i still play DQ games (tho i never finished 7) and i still go back and watch the episodes of the show.
  • 510BrotherPanda - July 12, 2010 2:53 a.m.

    I thought the Monster combining in Monsters Joker was fun. Thanks on the history lesson, Hen!
  • JayBeat - July 12, 2010 6:46 a.m.

    Never played a DQ game, but thats a interesting history.
  • Ravenbom - July 12, 2010 11:50 a.m.

    Puff puff! I just got DQ9 and I'm excited!

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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