Saturday, February 8, 2020

Dragon Warrior (Game Boy Color, 2000)

That's right, we're going back to the Game Boy now. Seeing where portable games were at just a mere decade and a half before the HD Android ports. What a difference a few years can make. I've never played this one before so I'm looking forward to it.

I love multiple-games-in-one sets.

I go with Rudo this time, the most manly four-letter name.

We get a sweet into cutscene where the Dragonlord and his minions attack Tantegel Castle. It looks like he's biting his way through the castle walls. Pretty cool how Charlock is visible in the background. I always used to question why the Dragonlord didn't just fly over and attack Tantegel. Well, turns out he did.

Not only do they kidnap the Princess, he also gets the Light Orb. The same Light Orb from DQIII that Erdrick used to defeat Zoma. This is a big component of this version of the game, as characters make frequent reference to the Light Orb and how important it is to get back.

Princess Lora (as she's called in this version) is startled as minions haul her away. Somehow, getting kidnapped by Drakees isn't very intimidating.

The bad guys fly away with little to no apparent resistance. This is why countries need an air force.

The game is retranslated from the NES original, and while it isn't on the level of the newer Android version, it's really good. The closest thing this version can be compared to is the Super Famicom remake.

Wait, what? That long ago? I always thought these things happened -right- before the game started. You guys did nothing that entire time? It's amazing the Princess wasn't completely traumatized from a year and a half in captivity.

This guard is apparently having dreams about the Princess. Dreams of war, dreams of liars, dreams of dragon's fire?

The overworld. The beginning of a Dragon Quest game is always a blank slate. Time to start leveling up. Will I go for early incremental upgrades or save and go for the big jumps?

They did a pretty good job with the visuals in this version, given the limited processing power of the Game Boy Color. I never got into that system at the time because it still wasn't backlit, and non-backlit portables could be hard to see.

It's a start. I do this a zillion more times and suddenly I'm...

...level 12. Got the "modestly-priced" 800 GP Iron Shield, as well as the expensive and mid-range Steel equipment. I skipped over early upgrades and just focused on grinding out as much money as possible from lowbie enemies. Think I got a Copper Sword to speed things up. That's it though.

Now that I'm mad leveled-up and have some really good equipment, time to start the plot. Game Boy graphics are, to this day, really charming.

Rudo isn't going to perish. Not like that loser Erdrick!

Rudo meets a townsperson and for some reason she thinks that he thinks that she's the Princess. Maybe they're both redheads.

Wait, what? ::funky music begins to play::

She actually -joins the party- and follows you around. I don't remember this from any other version of the game. Too bad she doesn't have dialogue when you go places with her, like Marin.

That said, you do get some different text in one place: The Inn. Oh yeahhh.


After that she takes off. I don't know what's happening, but it's safe to say they were up late.

Stay at the inn on your own and this is the text. Yeah, the developers knew what they were going for.

Our next quest is to reach Rimuldar. This simple bog is one of the more memorable places in any NES RPG. It's the point where you leave the relatively-benign Tantegel area and start to feel some danger.

Cave/dungeon visuals in this version are a bit yawn-worthy. Luckily they aren't much of the game.

Rimuldar, a town I have fond memories of spending hours around farming for equipment.

Magic Armor is as key in this version as it is in every other version. Having what is effectively a permanent Regen spell cast on you makes such a huge difference in grinding efficiency. The fact that the Erdrick Armor does the same thing even better makes it something you really look forward to getting. Too bad the Axe Knight is such a punk.

In the northwest part of town is this hidden shop. It's a crucially-important shop because...'s the first place where you can buy keys. This is actually the first thing you HAVE to do to move the plot forward. It's a little unusual how hidden/out-of-the-way they are.

As if I didn't already fight enough Wolf Lords while farming the two versions of Secret of Mana to get weapon orbs, I have to farm them here too. My God.

After getting Magic Armor, keys, and more levels, I can finally take on the Green Dragon. Once you can defeat this guy, you're in pretty good shape to do the rest of the game from there.

The biggest level-buildup of the game is just getting to where you can win this fight. It isn't easy. I sorta look at it as the "halfway boss" of the game.

Here's the Princess, the Dragonlord's blushing bride. Good thing he decided to have at least a YEAR AND A HALF of engagement before the big day.

Rudo romances Lora. He's wearing a back brace this time, so he'll be okay carrying her all the way back to Tantegel.

::heroic music plays::

::the heroic music changes to funky music::

Wait...HOLD ON.

So you get the "up late" text bringing the Princess to the inn too. Makes sense. But what'll happen if I go talk to my other girlfriend with the princess in tow?

::funky music intensifies:: She's a little apprehensive now, but she'll tag along anyway.

You sure? You don't mind?

...Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately that was the first and last time we partook of such things, because now we're in a committed relationship forever.

My God. Everywhere Rudo goes, somebody wants a piece.

Speaking of wanting a piece...Metal Slime alert. I love these guys. Let's get 'em!

It's a little less EXP than I remember them giving in other versions, though it's still enough to...

...gain a few levels in short order. Seems like Metal Slimes only spawn in one part of the southwest overworld. Not sure if it's quicker to farm this area for levels or farm regular fights in the Dragonlord's Castle. A consistent 150-200 EXP there is probably better than the consistent 40ish EXP with a chance of 750 EXP over here.

Aside from keys being well-hidden, there's also the harp. Try to go north at this one random tile to find... of the key items. I don't know how people played this without the help of Nintendo Power, given how obscure some of the item locations are. This game can be as short as 3 hours when you know where everything is, but it's safe to say that back in the day it seemed more like a huge epic adventure.

Another key item is found by rummaging around.

And another! Once levels and equipment are largely done, you can just breeze through the collection process. I usually leave it for later because the inventory space is so limited.

In the depths of the swamp, we find yet another rare item. I'm surprised I remembered exactly where this was on the first search.

Time for Miniboss #2. With Golem camped outside Cantlin, the people there must all be starving due to lack of trade or commerce. Truly, a town besieged.

This guy is super-strong, tougher than the Green Dragon and maybe any other normal enemy in the game. However, the flute puts him to sleep, which makes the fight debatably the easiest of the three Minibosses.

The massive EXP from this fight makes it worth doing as soon as you get the flute. This gets me the level I need for...

...the best spell in the game. There's one more attack spell to get after this, but it's hardly necessary. HealMore is the pinnacle of your abilities here.

Full spell list. I found that Repel doesn't work that well in this version, for whatever reason.

Next up is the last big farm. A lot of guides suggest skipping the Flame Sword since you can get the Erdrick Sword soon after this, but I figure why not go for it. You have to do a lot of grinding for the last dungeon as it is, so might as well do it here rather than beelining for the Erdrick Sword and risking a loss. The Silver Shield is of course a must, as the best shield. Still don't know why it isn't called Erdrick Shield.

Got the final spell. Formerly HurtMore. This is a much better name for it. The spell does good damage, but it's better to save MP for heals and other things. Difficult opponents like Star Wyverns are one time when Firebane can be handy, at least until you get Erdrick's Sword (which does almost as much damage). The problem is that dragons and some other foes are impervious to fire spell damage, and I got enough negated spells to stop relying on it pretty quick.

Finally, it's back to the nuked town to face off with Axe Knight.

Now it's Mad Knight. Sometimes you can gimp this with Stop Spell, though in this fight (version?) he didn't cast so it didn't help.

The final armor and the game's most exciting item. With this you can grind away pretty much anywhere without worrying about heals, with the exception of the final dungeon. Even there, you barely have to heal outside of the last room, where the enemies are strong enough to out-DPS the armor's regen pretty regularly. Still, this is a game-changer.

Also went out of my way to get this ring, which was the Fighter's Ring on the NES. Nobody seems to know what this thing actually does. It doesn't change your stats. Supposedly in this version it has a lesser repel component where you get attacked by weak monsters less often. I couldn't tell any major difference, but it's possible you get attacked by 4 enemies instead of 5 when walking the same distance, or something like that. Or maybe it really just doesn't do anything.

Down this hidden stairway in Tantegel (yep, right under our noses) I find...

...the Sun Stone. Combine this with the other weather-themed items to get...

...the Rainbow Drop, of Kirby fame. That gets me to...

...Charlock, yet again. Why is this game so timeless? I've played it on like every available system now. I can't say that about any other game that I can think of.

Another completely obscure thing that you need help to find. I could see players back in the day spending hours roaming lost around this castle, not knowing that they have to go back to the first room and search this one place.

The cave network has a different layout than other versions, a trend that continues with the Android port. Not sure if this syncs up with the Super Famicom version. Either way, my NES version maps were useless here.

You fight Green Dragons as regular enemies, plus new varieties like this one. Given that the Green Dragon you fight as a miniboss has higher stats than the regular ones, it's probably closer to a random Red Dragon in power.

The final sword. If I could change one thing about this game, I'd put this in its own dungeon rather than Charlock. I'd like having everything before I go to this dungeon, and there's always the component of having to remember to get the sword. There are so many parts of Charlock that are only there to get the player lost (and go unused if you know where you're going) that they could have easily made another small dungeon with a lot of those assets for the sword. It'd serve a lot more purpose than the stone slab dungeon at the beginning or the War Ring dungeon.

Red Dragons are the strongest random foes in the game and only turn up in the final room of the dungeon.

Final stats. Yep, went all the way to level 30 in this version too. Why not? The MP deficiency is due to all of the times I had to HealMore because Red Dragons and Mad Knights were out-DPSing my armor regen. I've still got enough MP for the Dragonlord. Also worth noting that I have 16 more HP than I did in the Android version at this level (21 more if you factor out the single Life Seed I used in that version).

Dragonlord is both Broken Matt Hardy...

...and Triple H.

If you accept his offer of half the world, instead of getting a game over, you...

...wake up at the inn like nothing happened.

Even Creepier Richie says: #JoinDragonLord

Refuse and the fight commences! This guy is puny at level 30.

His second form isn't puny at any level, and almost gets me. This is because I waited too long to heal, though. This is still likely winnable at level 20 in this version, much less 30.

Secret of Mana also had 3 dragon types that were different colors, plus a bigger beefy dragon as the last fight. Coincidence? Yeah.

The Light Orb is secured. What I want to do next is get a look at the Game Boy Color version of Dragon Quest III, but first I've got some DQII's in the way. I gotta, I guess.

Rudo visits his side-lady, but unfortunately it'll never work between them. ...that or the Princess of Moonbrooke is actually the descendant of Rudo and a random townsperson. My God! What would the royal family say!

Rudo and the Princess get married and go off to start their own kingdoms somewhere else. Basically the ending of Conan the Destroyer.

Off they go, like Harry and Meghan. And the entire kingdom lived happily ever after...for 100 years. More on that next.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it's a little known fact that Metallica were in fact big Dragon Quest fans. ...that would be cool.

    Even in this newer localization I'm surprised "you were up late" made it through.

    You farmed Rimuldar in Dragon Quest III, too!

    Out of the all of the things I might have expected when I started reading this post I can safely say that a three-way wasn't one of them.

    You turn into a regular Pumpkin King every time you get a new treasure.

    Golem being visible on the overworld is really cool.

    There's something to be said for the game being short and sweet.