The original Dragon Quest trilogy has arrived on the Switch and is ready to share yet another classic RPG experience with Nintendo console owners. Although the Dragon Quest series has obviously grown and evolved a ton since the original NES trilogy, these games each still shine in their own way and longtime fans of the franchise who haven't had a chance to play them will be able to get hours of fun and lore out of these classics.
The original Dragon Quest trilogy has been rereleased many times over the years, but this is the first time the three games are returning to a true console experience in the west since the originals. These versions are basically a straight up port of the Japan exclusive PS4 ports that were based on the prior mobile ports. In terms of performance the ports get the job done despite a little stuttering and run fairly well, but many players are going to immediately have a negative reaction to the clashing styles between the updated character sprites and the original NES backgrounds.
This style clash was something that got a lot negative feedback when the mobile ports arrived and no changes have been made to the aesthetics for the Switch versions. The character sprites look very good, but some players just don't like the way they seem to be a little out of place on the NES-era backgrounds. That said, players who can overlook this particular problem are in for some very clean ports with updated menus and controls that feel right at home on the Nintendo Switch in either portable or docked mode.
Speaking of controls, this is an area where the Switch feels like a huge improvement over the mobile ports, despite being nearly identical in terms of graphics and performance. The mobile ports were playable, but always felt just a bit awkward without controller support. The move over to a handheld device with controls like the undocked Switch feels much better and really takes the ports to a more enjoyable place and allows for longer play sessions. As an added bonus, Switch owners who are lucky enough to have access to the Switch NES controller can use that for a more authentic original NES experience while playing in docked mode.
As for the games themselves, each installment evolves in both storytelling and gameplay mechanics. This means that players who maybe want to save some time and only play one of the titles should definitely opt for Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation. This works out well, considering that the third installment in the trilogy is actually a prequel that helps set up the events of the first and second games. The Seeds of Salvation is the most ambitious of the trilogy and includes the most compelling story in addition to the best combat. All three titles have a pretty fun turn-based combat system, but The Seeds of Salvation is the first Dragon Quest game to implement a class-based party system, which makes a huge difference in challenge and quality (this helps make Dragon Quest 3 the best place to burn some time while daydreaming about the next mainline Dragon Quest game).
As for the first two games, there's still a lot to love. Dragon Quest I will obviously feel the most dated of the trilogy. The first installment does include the franchise staple turn-based combat, but players only control their single hero, the descendant of Erdrick, instead of a whole party. The game has some interesting world lore that will be rewarding to experience for players who want to work through the entire trilogy, but the combat may be a little straightforward and repetitive for players who are more used to modern class-based party systems.
Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line jumps forward in the story by 100 years and puts players in control of yet another descendant of Erdrick. There are still no classes in this game, but players do get to take control of multiple characters, which feels like a big step forward. The story is a little less straightforward than the Dragon Quest I narrative, as the connected world continues to grow and players learn more about their surroundings. Considering that the Erdrick Trilogy are the only games in the mainline Dragon Quest series that are really connected, it is exciting to see how the lore plays out in each installment and how they tie together.
At the end of the day, the Eldrick trilogy will likely feel too dated for gamers looking to take the first step into the world of Dragon Quest, but the games are definitely worth playing for established franchise fans who haven't already worked through them or are looking for a bit of nostalgia. The mechanics and storytelling techniques are just a bit too old school to win over new fans, but seeing the roots of the now-iconic franchise is a great experience for fans. Although Dragon Quest has never quite taken off in the West the way that it did in Japan, it's very possible that the newer installments and ports, like Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition could create some new super-fans who will eventually want to appreciate the Erdrick Trilogy. When that time comes, the Switch seems like the perfect console to use to dive into them.
Dragon Quest I, II, and III are all available now in the Nintendo Switch.