Project Dragon Quest

I haven’t been online much since I’ve spent the last several weeks with possibly the closest thing to an pneumonia that you can get without a doctor actually diagnosing it as such. Needless to say aside from taking care of the most basic of human and canine needs I’ve spent most of my time doing a lot of sleeping. And when I’m not sleeping, I’ve been nestled under warm blankets playing video games. I am feeling a lot better, thankfully, but I’m still suffering from a ridiculously nasty cough.

Anyway, I forget if I bothered mentioning my intermittent PS3 issues here, but a little over a year ago I finally sent it in to be serviced because it was overheating. It’s a pretty common issue with consoles, but in any case I had it fully worked on to hopefully prolong its out-of-warranty life as long as possible and also retrieve the game disc that sadly got stuck in it during one of is overheating bouts. I was happy to have it back and working properly again, but was still prepared to face the dreaded Yellow Light of Death that so many PS3 systems experience.1 And sadly, yesterday right at the end of Tales of Xillia my PS3 went YLOD.

I’m super bummed, but I do have quite a backlog of other games I could play that don’t utilize the PS3, including that random whim I had awhile back to play through the entire Dragon Quest series.

Dragon Quest I and II selection screen

And so I popped in the Super Famicon remake of I and II. . . .

Dragon Quest I title screen

The title screen doesn’t have much fanfare to it, but neither did the NES original.

What has changed is the music. Composing anything with the limitations the Famicon/NES presented was quite an achievement, but the SFC/SNES really lets Koichi Sugiyama’s score shine. I admit it; I sat on the title screen, listening to the entire theme. By the way, if you didn’t know in the west the original DQ games were titled “Dragon Warrior” because of a copyright issue with none other than Gary Gygax, creator of D&D. This has since been changed and starting with the NA release of VIII all of the games have kept their titles.

It’s immediately obvious this game has had serious updates to the graphics thanks to the more powerful SFC engine. My eye goes right to the chests, though, since it was one of the things that always bugged me about the NES games. The sprites always looked flat to me and this wasn’t helped by the fact that you had to stand directly on top of the chest to open it. Oh, it should be noted my game is patched with this fan translation, and I’ve chosen the version with the English names because, well, that’s what I remember from my playthroughs as a kid. I gave my character the Japanese equivalent to the legendary hero’s name, though.

All right, so the game starts with King Lorik rambling on about the hero Erdrick. He used the Ball of Light to defeat the darkness-bringing-world-destroying Dragonlord, but now the Dragonlord is back. Lucky me, as Loto, just so happens to be related to this great hero so it’s my job to defeat the Dragonlord and bring back peace to the world. Simple enough, no? Yes, it’s a common fetch the MacGuffin plot, etc. but these are the beginnings of the JRPG tropes so I can’t really poke fun at it. Yet.

At least the king isn’t sending me out empty-handed. He gives me the contents of the three chests in his chamber and instructs me to talk with the guards. Turns out the king isn’t as generous as he sounds; the chests contain 120 gold, a torch and a magic key. The key is necessary to get out of the room, which for some inexplicable reason is locked with all of us inside. I suppose the idea was to teach the player how to use keys, but it still doesn’t make sense.

Wandering aimlessly about the room is this . . . I don’t know who this guy is actually. He tells me about the missing princess and tasks me with her rescue. Well, it’s not like I have anything else to do, right?

A guard in the king's chamber tells Loto about a town to the east A guard in the king's chamber tells Loto about a town to the east
A guard in the king's chamber tells Loto about a town to the east

The guard on the right has instructions on how keys work, but the guard on the left is the first source of direction in the game. He tells me about the town of Brecconary just to the east of Tantegel Castle. Speaking with the guards further provides more RPG 101 information, which makes sense since this is the first game of its kind. One nice addition the remake has is the L button acts as an all-purpose action button so instead of having to use the menus to do everything from talking to using keys, you can just hit the bumper and it’ll automatically do the appropriate action. Also, you automatically advance when crossing stairs, which required a menu selection to do in the original and was both hilarious and frustrating.

A guard on the castle's first floor provides information on saving the game A guard on the castle's first floor provides information on saving the game
A guard on the castle's first floor provides information on saving the game A guard on the castle's first floor provides information on saving the game

The guards downstairs from the king’s chamber impart the valuable information on how to save the game. In later installments there will be more than one save point, but in DQI you can only save with the king of Tantegel Castle. It’s still an improvement over the original Japanese release which relied on passwords. Other people in the castle provide further beginner information. Still others are concerned with the demon infestation and the missing princess.

 

The magic healer at Tantegel Castle The magic healer at Tantegel Castle

Over on the right on the first floor of the castle is this awesome dude who restores MP. Once I learn Heal at level 3 he’ll be my BFF because I’ll never need to use the nearby inn.

Tantegel Castle and the town of Brecconary on the overworld

Brecconary is just east of the castle. It’s the scariest journey in the game since I have no equipment. Actually, the very first time I played DQI I died on this short journey from, of all things, a slime. Seriously, I’m glad I had already played Final Fantasy. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d have thought this game was ludicrously hard and given up right then.

Brecconary sets the standard for what to expect as you journey through the game: rest at the inn, purchase equipment at the shops, talk to people to get clues. It’s still early in the game, so a bunch of the NPCs have more beginner information. One guy tells me about the town of Garinham, though.

The curse remover in Brecconary The curse remover in Brecconary

I don’t feel very confident in the curse removal abilities of someone merely “studying some spells,” but luckily there are only two cursed items in the entire game.

A woman in Brecconary tells Loto she is not the princess The Brecconary woman starts flirting with Loto
The Brecconary woman follows Loto endlessly around town

In the NES original, she only says the line about the princess. The rest is a rather amusing change.

Weapon shop in Brecconary

With my kingly gift of 120 gold all I can pick up at this point are clothes and a club with which to smack some experience and gold out of slimes. The general rule of thumb in DQ games is to grind around town until you’ve amassed enough gold to buy all the best equipment and by then you should be strong enough to venture on.

Battle with a slime

Brave Loto’s very first battle! Slimes are almost always the first thing you encounter in a DQ game. The remake has improved the sprites and battle backgrounds, but the music still is repetitive when battle after battle occurs. All the battles in this game are one-on-one, which makes the number count on the right rather pointless.

  1. The specific model PS3 I have is the most noted for this error, though I think that’s mostly because it’s the last fully backwards compatible one made and thus the most common culprit due to use and age.

Comments

  1. I have encountered the YLOD on the same model PS3. Have you tried using compressed air to blow out the console? It helped ours quite a lot.

    • I do vacuum it frequently, but I’m sure it’s ridiculously dusty and dog-haired filled. Since the company that repaired it before warrantied their service I’m really waiting on them before doing anything beyond that.

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