Dragon quest logo

Dragon Quest logo

Dragon Quest, published as Dragon Warrior in North America until the 2005 release of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, is a series of role-playing games produced by Enix (now Square Enix). It is the thirteenth best-selling video game franchise in the world. Installments of the series have appeared on MSX computers, Famicom/NES, Super Famicom/Super NES, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and Wii video game consoles, as well as on several models of mobile phone. As of 2006, the Dragon Quest series has sold over 41 million units worldwide. It is Square Enix's most successful franchise after Final Fantasy, although Dragon Quest is the most popular video game franchise in Japan.

Dragon Quest's North American name was changed due to a trademark conflict with the role-playing game DragonQuest, which was published by veteran wargame publisher SPI in the 1980s until the company's bankruptcy in 1982 and purchase by TSR, which then published it as an alternate line to Dungeons & Dragons until 1987. In 2003, Square Enix registered the Dragon Quest trademark in the US, signalling the end of the Dragon Warrior moniker.


During the mid-1980s, Dragon Quest was created by Yuji Horii, who has been the scenario director since. The series monster and character designs, as well as box art, were by famed Dragon Ball manga artist, Akira Toriyama. All of the music for the Dragon Quest series has been composed by Koichi Sugiyama. When Horii first created Dragon Quest, most people doubted that a fantasy series with swords and dungeons instead of science fiction would become popular in Japan, but the series has become a phenomenon there. The first six Dragon Quest games' stories are divided into two trilogies. The first three games of the series tell the story of the legendary hero known as Roto (also known as Erdrick or Loto in the American NES and GBC versions, respectively). Dragon Quest IV-VI are based around a castle in the sky called Zenithia, and are referred to as the Tenku in Japan, meaning Heaven. The main series from Dragon Quest VII on are independent of each other and stand alone.

The games themselves feature a number of religious overtones--saving the game and reviving characters who have died is always performed by clergy in churches. Bishops are often seen wandering around the overworld of Dragon Warrior Monsters and have the ability to heal. The final enemy in some of the Dragon Quest games is known as the Demon Lord. For instance, in Dragon Warrior VII, the Demon Lord, known as Orgodemir in that particular game, is the final boss, and there is also a sidequest to battle God himself.

Dragon Quest is such a cultural phenomenon in Japan that there are live-action ballets, musical concerts, and audio CDs based on the Dragon Quest universe. The London Philharmonic Orchestra has performed for several Dragon Quest music albums. It was the first video game series to have its music performed live by an orchestra. Since 1987, music from Dragon Quest has been performed annually in Japan in concert halls. In Japan, due to complaints of mass absenteeism from schools and places of work, Enix changed its policy of releasing new Dragon Quest games on weekdays.

Outside JapanEdit

Dragon Quest is not nearly as successful outside Japan, having been eclipsed by Final Fantasy and other RPG series. Because of Enix America Corporation's closure in the mid 1990's, Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI were never officially released in North America. In Europe, none of the games except Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and Dragon Warrior Monsters have seen release. The lack of official localizations for Dragon Quest games has inspired many fan translation projects, even though they are technically illegal.

The first four Dragon Warrior titles suffered from substantial censorship in their North American localizations, largely in keeping with Nintendo of America's content guidelines at the time, which placed severe restrictions on religious iconography and mature content. Both graphics and text were edited, replacing coffins with ghosts, crucifixes with five-point stars, and "Priest" with "Healer," to name but a few. The "puff-puff massage" scenario was also taken out of the first two games. However, the graphics, sound and menus of Dragon Warrior and Dragon Warrior II were given an upgrade for American release. When these games were remade for the Game Boy Color, many of these censorships were taken out. Since Dragon Warrior VII, the games have been kept similar to their original versions when going through localization.

Only two titles in the series have been released in Europe. The first was Dragon Warrior Monsters published by Eidos Interactive; the second was Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, but the game was marketed as Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King. However, the series is one of Square Enix's flagship titles, and it is currently planning to release at least four upcoming installments in the series outside Japan. With the Square Enix merge in 2003, the number of places that Dragon Quest games are released has greatly increased.

Common elementsEdit


Dragon warrior 3 battle screen

Typical battle from Dragon Warrior III

The Dragon Quest system is similar to the basis of the Ultima and Wizardry video game systems, as well as games like Final Fantasy, which came later. The game player's party walks into a town and buys weapons, armor, and items in order to defeat monsters easily. When the player's party is out of the town, the party is vulnerable to random monster attacks. When players encounter monsters, they have several options from which to choose through menus. The player can attack and defeat the enemy with weapons, magic, or items. The player can also attempt to run away from the fight. However, this option is not available during a boss battle. After a player wins a battle by defeating all the monsters, the player's party members gain experience points (EXP) in order to gain new levels. When a certain character gains a new level, the stats of the character are upgraded.

When the player's party dies in battle, the group will lose half of their gold and the leader of the party warps back to the nearest church. The leader then needs to pay a priest to revive his/her party members. More recent games in the series have banks in many towns that allow the player to store gold, which prevents it from being lost when the party dies.

To save one's progress, the player must visit a Church (also known as a House of Healing in early North American versions) and talk to a priest or nun. In early versions of Dragon Quest, the player must visit a king in order to save his or her progress.

Dragon Warrior III, Dragon Quest VI, and Dragon Warrior VII feature several classes to choose for the party members. Typical classes include the fighter, paladin, and mage. Each installment possesses its own particular set of classes.



Rocket, a slime starring in Dragon Quest Heroes.

The series features several recurring monsters, such as Slimes, Drackies, Shadows, Mummies, Trick Bags, and Dragons. Many of the monsters have been designed by Akira Toriyama. Many of the Dragon Quest monsters have been featured in the Dragon Quest Monsters series of games, which allows the player to catch monsters and use them in battle. This idea is also used in Dragon Quest V, although humans fight in battle as well.

The official mascot of the Dragon Quest series is the Slime. A Slime is a small blob with a face, shaped like an onion or Hershey's Kiss. It has appeared in every Dragon Quest game and it is usually one of the first monsters the player encounters. The Slime's popularity has netted it two spinoffs: Slime MoriMori Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime. They also make a significant showing in the Japanese manga and two-episode anime Dragon Half.

In 1989, a manga was published by Enix called Dragon Quest Monster Story, which had nothing to do with Dragon Quest Monsters. This book featured short stories about various Dragon Quest monsters and came with a poster that featured the "families" of monsters.

Recurring ThemesEdit


Loto, also known as Roto or Erdrick (in the NES localizations) (Japansese: ロト), is a legendary hero from the Dragon Quest series. The first three Dragon Quest games make up the "Loto trilogy," which are all connected to the legend of Loto. He is known in the game as the hero who freed Alefgard from darkness. The name Erdrick was first mentioned in the English localization, Dragon Warrior in which the player is referred to as Erdrick's descendent. Erdrick’s legend was completed with the 1991 release of Dragon Warrior III.

In Dragon Warrior, Loto was the ancestor of the Hero. The Hero follows in the footsteps of Loto to ultimately reach the Dragon Lord's Castle and confront the Dragonlord. In Dragon Warrior II, the heroes are descendants of Loto, and also of the Hero from Dragon Warrior. At the end of Dragon Warrior III, the King of Alefgard bestows upon the Hero “the Order of Loto”, the country’s highest honor reserved only for true heroes. While this implies Loto is merely a title, it is possible to name the Hero Loto at the beginning of Dragon Warrior III. In Dragon Warrior III, the origins of the hero Loto are revealed; therefore, the chronological order of the first three games is III, I, II.

The Hero, originally known as Erdrick to many English-speaking players, is also known by two other names. In the original Japanese language games (Dragon Quest), Erdrick is known exclusively by the name Roto, which is also used by some import gamers. Another romanization of the name is Loto, which was used in place of Erdrick when Enix America, Inc. re-released Dragon Warrior I, II, and III on the Game Boy Color. This was most likely used because the Japanese language does not distinguish between L and R.

In the original Final Fantasy, Square parodies Dragon Quest by displaying a grave for Erdrick in a certain town. In retaliation, Enix hid a Cid grave in Dragon Quest III. A parody of Erdrick's sword is wielded by Gilgamesh in Final Fantasy XII: it is referred to as the "Wyrmhero Blade" (In the Japanese version, it is called "Tolo Sword").


Zenithia, also called Zenith Castle or simply Zenith, is the name of a fictional sky castle from the series. The first appearance is in Dragon Warrior IV, and the castle is one of several elements from Dragon Quest IV, V, and VI which suggest the three games are linked as a trilogy; this group is often called the Tenkū (Japanese for Heaven), or the Tenkū no Shiro (Castle in the Sky) trilogy. A castle in the Dragon Warrior III remakes for Super Famicom/Game Boy Color is also called Zenith, though the layout differs from the castle from the Tenku series.

In Dragon Warrior IV, Zenithia can be accessed by climbing the Tower near Gottside, which goes as far up to the sky. It is directly above the entrance to the world of darkness. In Dragon Quest V, Zenithia has fallen into a lake south of Elheaven. This happened when the Golden Orb, half of a set of magical orbs that supported the castle in the sky, fell from its place. Once recovered and returned to Master Dragon, Zenithia will rise again. This time, the castle can move freely around the sky. In Dragon Quest VI, Zenith Castle is sealed away by Demon Lord Durran, and a giant hole is left behind in its place in the Dream World. After the Dream World returns to its natural state, Zenith Castle is the only part of it that can still be seen floating above the real world.

Square Enix has released the Celestial Sword (the Zenithian Sword) and Sword of Ramias as part of their Dragon Quest Legend Items series - miniature collectible toy replicas of artifacts from the Dragon Quest universe.


At a press conference in Japan celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dragon Quest, Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest IX is in development for the Nintendo DS handheld gaming system. The full title is reported to be Dragon Quest IX: Defenders of the Sky (or Protectors of the Starry Sky, depending on translation), and is the next main installment in the series by Level-5, not a spin-off or side quest. This will be the first installment of the series that will be exclusive to a handheld system rather than a home console. Notably, this would have also been the first installment to feature real-time combat as well as four player co-op over wi-fi, but it was later reported that the system had been changed back to a turn based format.


Yuji Horii, Akira Toriyama, and Koichi Sugiyama are the three most well known creators of the Dragon Quest series. Each of them has worked on each of the main games and are treated almost as celebrities in Japan.

In 1982, Enix sponsored a national video game programming contest, which brought much of the Dragon Quest team together, including Yuji Horii. The prize of the competition was a trip to America, and a visit to AppleFest '83 in San Francisco, where Horii discovered Wizardry. Koichi Nakamura and Yukinobu Chida, two other winners of the contest, along with Horii, released The Portopia Serial Murder Case for the Famicom for Enix. Sugiyama, already famous for jingles and pop songs, impressed with the group's work, sent a postcard to Enix, commenting on the software. In response, Enix asked him to write music for some of their games. The group then decided to make a console role-playing game, using a combination of Wizardry and Ultima. Akira Toriyama, who knew Horii through Shonen Jump, was commissioned to illustrate the characters and monsters to separate the game from other RPGs of the time and the Dragon Quest "team" was born. Dragon Quest games have been developed by Chunsoft, Heartbeat, Artepiazza, and starting with Dragon Quest VIII, Level-5. Horii's own company, Armor Project, is in charge of the Dragon Quest games, which were published by Enix and now Square Enix.


Dragon Quest is often regarded as the most popular video game series in Japan. Most of the games in the main series as well as the spinoff games have sold over a million copies, some even selling over four million, and sell very quickly. For instance, the remake of Dragon Quest V sold 1.3 million copies in Japan in its first two days, which is a very high number for a remake. In 2006, Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu readers voted on the hundred best video games of all time. Dragon Quest III came in third, Dragon Quest VIII came in fourth, Dragon Quest VII came in ninth, Dragon Quest V came in eleventh, Dragon Quest IV came in fourteenth, Dragon Quest II came in seventeenth, Dragon Quest came in thirtieth, and Dragon Quest VI came in thirty-fourth.

Although the game is a phenomenon in Japan, the game never garnered as much attention in North America. Although the first four games to come to America generally received good reviews, it was not until Dragon Warrior VII was released did Dragon Quest become critically acclaimed there.[1] One of the main aspects of the series that critics point out, either positively or negatively, is that the series "never strays from its classic roots". Unlike other modern, complex RPGs, Dragon Quest retains the simple gameplay from the first game, which many critics find refreshing and nostalgic. Other critics feel differently about the series, however, and claim that the story, characters, and gameplay have become boring and redundant over the years.

The original Dragon Quest game is often claimed to be the birth of the console role-playing game, despite the fact that many others consider Final Fantasy "more important". Dragon Warrior was listed on GameSpot's list of the 15 most influential games of all time, calling it the "most influential role-playing game of all time" and stated that nearly all RPGs today have roots in its gameplay.



Dragon quest complete cd box cover

Cover of Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest Complete CD-Box

Several albums of Dragon Quest music has been released since the original game was made, the first coming out in 1986, based on Dragon Quest's music. Each of the Dragon Quest soundtracks have been composed and arranged by Koichi Sugiyama, who has also composed the music for the games. Since then, an album with the game's title and "Symphonic Suite" has been released for each game in the main series. Aside from the main series of soundtracks, other compilations of Dragon Quest music have been made, such as Dragon Quest Game Music Super Collection Vol. 1.

Some of the soundtracks songs are performed by the London Philharmonic, such as Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest I•II. With a few of the soundtracks, a second disc with the original game music is included, like with the original Dragon Quest VI soundtrack.

In 2003, SME Visual Works released Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest Complete CD-Box, a box set featuring music from the first seven Dragon Quest games. Each of the seven discs is broken up by where the music is played in the games. Disc one, for example, has the opening overture song from each of the Dragon Quest games, whereas disc six features all the battle songs.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Official sites

Fan created sites

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