Let's play Dragon Warrior!

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François
Posts: 1288
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:00 am

Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Fri May 11, 2018 12:17 pm

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Dragon Warrior is a JRPG originally released for the Famicom in Japan in 1986 to much acclaim, and for the NES in North America in 1989 to not quite so much acclaim. In fact, for a while in 1990, Nintendo gave the game away with a subscription to Nintendo Power. Three years can be a long time for a medium to evolve, kids.

That said, the words "Dragon Warrior is a JRPG" are fairly similar in understatement to "the Big Bang is an explosion". It's arguably not the first one, but it's the first one that blew up anywhere close to how it blew up. Of course it didn't come out of nowhere, there were definitely successful computer role playing games before then. In fact, series creator Yuji Horii was sent to the US by Enix as a prize for winning a game programming contest, and that's where he discovered the likes of Wizardry and Ultima. That's a hell of a lot of games today that trace their lineage directly to the bottleneck of this one man bringing inspiration home like a seed floating across the Pacific.

Other notable staff members include Akira "Yeah, That Akira Toriyama" Toriyama on monster art duty (though Yuji Horii did the preliminary enemy design himself), and composer Koichi Sugiyama, who at the time was mostly known for scoring TV shows and commercials but was invited to work for Enix after sending them a lovely appreciative postcard.

Aaaaaanyway. Let's play it.

At this point I'm sure many among you dear readers are asking, "why though?"

I've certainly asked myself the same question. I expect this to be a bit of a pill, to be honest. But here are a few answers I found.

All things considered, Dragon Warrior (or Dragon Quest as it is known in Japan) is an incredibly successful and influential game. I want to explore and discuss its game design. I want to see what it did right, where it went wrong. I want context and hindsight. What did its successors improve on? What did they do worse?

I have fond memories of the the game, and I haven't played it in at least 25 years. English isn't my first language and I barely had the faintest grasp of it back then; I still remember the feel of the controller in my hands and the weight of the dictionary in my lap. Motivation's a hell of a thing. Today I'm a professional translator, thanks to video games and the Simpsons. Go figure.

I want to hear its music again. I don't think the series' soundtracks start getting genuinely enjoyable on their own merits until the second game, but nostalgia critically hits for massive damage, as it often does.

I want to LP Dragon Warrior 3, but I know that story won't have as much impact as I'd like if I don't go through both its precessors. I'm not sure I'll make it that far, but I'd like to make it even further. We'll see!

Finally, the last time I felt this good about a bad idea, I started a LP series about Shin Megami Tensei. That coulda gone a bit better, but also a lot worse!

These will be reasons enough.

Dragon Warrior has received several updated re-releases along the years, but today I choose the NES version. It's the one I grew up with of course, but I also think it'll be more interesting to look at in a context where it hadn't had the chance to learn from itself yet, especially if I make it further in the series and would like to detail its evolution. Besides, if you'd like to play it, now or sometime down the line, there'll still be pleasant surprises in store for you if you obtain a later version.

There isn't much of substance to spoil here, but I'll still ask that you refrain from discussing events in the game that haven't happened yet, and also especially not to go into details regarding subsequent games in the series, as the first three games form a trilogy and there is definitely a strong chance we'll all get to them together.

Oh, and, we have a silent protagonist on our hands, but I'll make him chatty because apparently that's how I roll. Besides, if I couldn't do this, I wouldn't be able to resist bringing in the SMT protagonist for color commentary instead and it wouldn't make sense and nobody wants that.
Image: Wow, rude.

Alright then, that ought to do it. Time to pull the trigger on this bad boy. Come along, descendants of Erdrick, and let us not tempt the Fates.

User avatar
François
Posts: 1288
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:00 am

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Fri May 11, 2018 12:17 pm

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Music: Title theme

Here we go.

Dragon Warrior was published by Nintendo in North America, which explains why they have the trademark. The series has been named "Dragon Quest" from the start in Japan, but there was some legal nonsense involving a paper & pen RPG called the same, and that lasted until 2005.

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Man, and how.

Music: Town theme

We're greeted by a lively tune, that is also in fact the town theme. Later games have their own dedicated start-up menu song, but we have no such luxury today.

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Three save slots! That's where their menu song budget went. The triangular cursor is blinking, but you can take my word that we're using Adventure Log 1, because we're worth it.

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Holy crap, our name can have an extravagant eight characters! Upper and lower case! Glorious!

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We're ZedPower, because I'm like 9 years old, I don't know much English, and it sounds Cool As Hell. As for the choice of message speed, there's typically no reason to use anything less than FAST, especially for a game this wordy. Everything that happens in combat is described in full sentences, so, yeah, you can imagine.

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Music: Throne room

We start our quest in front of the king, which sure as hell beats starting in a prison cell or on an executioner's block. Ahem.

Pressing any button whatsoever, including any direction on the control pad, will prompt the king to start talking to us.

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Image: It is told that in ages past Erdrick fought demons with a Ball of Light. Then came the Dragonlord who stole the precious globe and hid it in the darkness. Now, ZedPower, thou must help us recover the Ball of Light and restore peace to our land. The Dragonlord must be defeated. Take now whatever thou may find in these Treasure Chests to aid thee in thy quest. Then speak with the guards, for they have much knowledge that may aid thee. May the light shine upon thee, ZedPower.

The first thing to note here is that the translation is rather well done. It's a bit of a strange thing to point out in 2018, but in that regard, not only was Dragon Warrior an exception in 1989, but it remained exceptional for a long, long time. All of our men are healthy, and all of our bases firmly remain in our possession.

The faux-Elizabethan nonsense, I could take it or leave it. But hey, the translation's not merely competent, it also attempts an unnecessary flourish, and does so without falling on its face.

The other thing to note is that the king's orders are light on actual directions. He's more of an idea man, apparently.

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After a few seconds of not moving, a small status window appears out of the way in the upper left corner, letting us know our level, our hit points, our magic points, our gold, and our experience. Which is to say, all the stats that are good to have close at hand without going into menus. The screen is devoid of any kind of heads-up display while we're actually walking, which is very elegant.

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Pressing the A button reveals an aspect of the interface which is decidedly less elegant.

SPELL, STATUS and ITEM make sense. As for the rest...

TALK should be a function of the B button, which has no use besides canceling out of menus. STAIRS should be redundant with walking on a stair tile, but our hero won't climb stairs without being told to. DOOR is entirely redundant with using a key from item menu, as all doors in the world are locked. And I think SEARCH has any purpose four times in the entire game. Using it on a tile with a chest on it only tells you that there is a chest on the tile; you need to choose TAKE to actually open it. Yikes, huh?

Speaking of chests...

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So, 120 gold, a torch with a market value of 8 gold, and a key that will open the door to this throne room and then disappear. It's not much of a haul, but it is in fact a door-opening tutorial, and the free torch ensures that a player will not enter their first dungeon without a source of light, even if they forget to visit the item shop. Remember: this is a lot of people's introduction to the RPG. It has to be baby steps.

Anyway. Let's chat up the guards.

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Oooh, a question.

Image: The king didn't mention a princess. That's odd.
Image: Half a year now hath passed since the Princess was kidnapped by the enemy. Never does the King speak of it, but he must be suffering much. ZedPower, please save the princess.

Bit of characterization for the king right there. He could be excused for not mentioning his daughter, because rescuing Princess Gwaelin is OPTIONAL. You can technically beat the game without ever even seeing her, and she'll be absent from the ending sequence.

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Image: Well I do now.
Image: ZedPower, please save the Princess.
Image: I'll see what I can do, but no promises!

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Image: Return to the Inn for a rest if thou art wounded in battle, ZedPower. Sleep heals all.

More RPG basics that again require explanation.

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Image: Yeah, got it.
Image: Once used, the key will disappear, but the door will be open and thou may pass through.

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I refuse to use the ridiculous DOOR command and select our Magic Key from the inventory menu.

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But we're not getting away from this other ridiculous command. Oh well.

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Music: Tantegel Castle

We're treated to an alternate version of the throne room music; its pitch is slightly different and it loops before the second portion kicks in. That's a strange choice, since you'll necessarily hear it more often than the throne room variant.

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Which is to say, he'll save your game for you. He has the only copy of the Imperial Scrolls though, so he is in the fact the only person in the world who can save your game. Oof.

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Gotta remind the new folk not to just turn off the console when they're done for the day! Now if they do it anyway, it's their own fault.

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Image: Not in here for sure, soldier man.

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With a flash of the screen, this old man restores our MP for free. Our maximum MP is zero. Dang!

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This may be manual-only info, but we're also on the continent of Alefgard.

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Garland may knock you down, but the servants of the Dragonlord'll outright kill ya.

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Yeah, these assholes don't mess around.

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This door only opens with a magic key and we just used the last one. Poor sap.

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That's... grinding. He means grinding. Yep.

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In case you forgot.

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A good third of the castle ground floor is locked behind a magic door. It looks like we could walk around the outside of this tower here, but as soon as we pass the corner...

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Music: Alefgard

Good grief that takes me back.

So, village in the east, nasty swamp castle across the river. We still don't exactly know where to go to stick it to this Dragonlord chump, so let's hit the town for some old-fashioned information gathering.

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It's possible to run into a random encounter on the way, which is especially mean since we don't have weapons or armor yet. But the terrain around Tantegel Castle literally has half the encounter rate of similar terrain anywhere else in the world, and we can only meet the two weakest enemies in the game here.

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We make it to safety before getting to know the local hoodlums, though.

Music: Town theme

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Image: Ah, yes, the ex-paradise.

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I have to presume these sand tiles are meant to signify terrible devastation. You do what you can with what you got!

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There's no poison status ailment to worry about, but stepping in marsh tiles, like we saw around that castle to the southeast, causes 2 points of damage.

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Still in RPG 101.

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Dang, look at these names! There's uppercase, there's lowercase, and when there's a second word, it gets a second line! No CP.SWRD or SM.SHLD nonsense here! Is this really 1986?

Anyway, this is our first gameplay decision. The Copper Sword is very strong (even though an actual sword made out of copper would be pretty awful), but considering the enemies around here drop 1 or 2 gold each, it's beyond our reach at the moment. The Small Shield is not very cost-effective, but it does stack with armor and the next best shield is extremely expensive, so we'll get it sooner or later. So the choice is between a crappy Bamboo Pole and decent Leather Armor, or a decent Club and crappy Clothes.

We go with the Club and Clothes for now, it'll make the early battles end a bit faster and we can set our sights on the actual Armor once we have enough money. It's a defensible choice to get the Club and skip the Clothes, but I want to start exploring the area as soon as possible and I'll feel safer around the tougher monsters with at least a little bit of protective gear.

It's distressing to think that the king's stipend can't even buy us a single piece of metal equipment. Maybe if the castle's treasury wasn't locked behind a door no one can open...

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Interestingly, our equipment doesn't go in our inventory, and we don't have to manually equip it. Instead, it directly goes to appropriate slots on our status screen. We literally can't hold more than one weapon, armor and shield at once, and the merchant will offer to buy them off us at half price when we upgrade.

Regarding the stats... Strength is added to our weapon's bonus to determine our attack power, half of our agility is added to our protective gear's bonus to determine our defense power. Apart from max HP and MP, that's it. Cheers for minimalism!

One more thing before we move on.

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Our little dude's sprite now visibly holds a weapon! And you can't see it when he's facing west because he holds it in his right hand. Holy. Frikkin'. Crap. If we had a shield, we could also see it there. There's even a variant with a shield and no weapon if that's how you decided to spend your allowance.

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Image: That's nice, but unless the Dragonlord lives there, I don't know why I'd want to go.

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Image: But for thee I wish success, ZedPower.
Image: Those other guys must have been real douchebags.

Image: Oh wow, is that... No way! Are you Princess Gwaelin?
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Image: Oh. Uh. Yeah, okay. Sorry.

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Image: The king seems to think so. Unfortunately, there's a sand trap where Brecconary's DNA lab used to be, so no, I don't have proof.

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Image: Yikes, no.
Image: Okay. Good-bye, traveler.

This is an excruciating expense in the early game. If you grind just outside of town, it'll take 3 to 6 fights just to pay for your lodgings.

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Image: Yours, maybe.
Image: I am almost gone....

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It's a good thing this guy is here to point out that this is a building, and that stepping past the brick tile will allow you inside.

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It's an item shop. Herbs restore 23-30 HP, and you can have carry up to six, if I remember correctly. They're a bit too expensive for us right now. We do get the Dragon's Scale, though.

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Using it from our inventory menu increases our defense power by 2 for as long as we keep it, and we'll keep it to the end.

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Yup. That town isn't the only place in the world where keys can be bought, but the other places require keys to access.

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Another reminder to save often, basically.

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Image: Danger grows when thou crosses.

He's not kidding. The overworld map is divided into 64 square zones, each with its own set of enemies to fight, and the bridges are usually placed on boundaries where the combat difficulty increases significantly. That's good, simple signposting right there.

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Image: The fortress of the Dragonlord.

That's right. You can see the final dungeon as soon as you reach the overworld map. Boats weren't invented until Dragon Warrior 2 though, so we'll have to find an overland route.

Alright. There's a locked room in the inn, and an entire locked building in the northeast corner, but we've otherwise seen all Brecconary has to offer. It's time to go.

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We've got a king, a princess, a warrior carrying a big stick, an evil castle with an asshole inside, a quest, and a continent. What else would we ever need?

User avatar
François
Posts: 1288
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:00 am

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Fri May 11, 2018 12:20 pm

Alright then, let's take out this Dragonlord chump and be back to Tantegel in time for tea.

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Ah, I see. There's no going around this body of water to the east. Let's try the other way.

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Music: Battle theme

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First blood! That coulda gone worse.

The standard Slimes are practically the symbol of the Dragon Quest series, but it's not for their combat prowess. On the off-chance that we don't kill them in one hit, they'll hardly ever hit back for more than one point of damage.

This is as good a time as any to point out how remarkably small the damage values are, especially in the early going. Slimes have 3 HP and we sometimes only deal 1 damage, even with our Club. There are probably more points of damage dealt in the first thirty seconds of the first battle of Final Fantasy XV than in the entire first hour of Dragon Warrior. I rather prefer smaller numbers myself, given that it makes even small statistical increases seem more meaningful. The same goes for experience and gold. For example...

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The Red Slime, slightly tougher than a regular Slime, drops two gold instead of one. You can pay for an inn stay in Brecconary by killing three Red Slimes, or six Slimes, and over time that'll be some difference. It also teaches a new player that seeking out stronger enemies is more rewarding.

We can't exactly find stronger enemies around town, though, as the immediate area here only has those two types of Slimes. Let's head a ways southwest.

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Before we can get much further, something happens after we defeat another Red Slime.

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Thy power increases by 1.
Thy Maximum Hit Points increase by 6.


And that's level 2. Stat gains per level are not random. There's a table that determines what stats you have at what level, and it has four variants, each of which has two stats growing faster than the others. The variant you're on is set at the start of the game, and it's actually decided by assigning an arbitrary numerical value to the first four letters of your name, adding them up, dividing the sum by 4, and taking the remainder (which will be a single digit from 0 to 3, of course). "ZedP" has Type 3 stat growth, which has fast Strength and Agility growth, but slow HP and MP growth.

This system ensures that there is some slight variance between players and that you won't end up underpowered by endgame, but its effects don't seem pronounced enough to be worth worrying about.

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Another fight leaves us with less than a quarter of our max HP, which turns the white portions of the interface red, as well portions of the background that share their palette with the interface. As far as low health warnings go, this one's hard to miss without being totally obnoxious, so take that, Legend of Zelda.

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Anyway. We didn't find the stronger opponents we were looking for, but we've just about gotten our butt kicked, and the southwestern path is a dead end. Time to hoof it back to town and catch some Zs.

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That 6 gold charge hurts, it literally cut our day's profit in half. We're definitely not paying for that Leather Armor with Slime money, but we ought to be able to explore further this time. Let's try the northwest. We've heard the town of Garinham is in that direction, and while we have no reason to go there, if we can't make it to the closest town, we definitely can't make it to Charlock.

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A few Red Slime fights later, we find a strange cave entrance.

Nobody told us anything about this cave. Nobody will ever tell us about this cave. It's just there, on the way to the only place we've been given directions to.

It'd be rude not to oblige.

...is what I'd like to say but...

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Magicians are tough customers! They have four Slimes' worth of HP and have a 50% chance to cast a spell on their turn instead of attacking with their... fists I guess? Punch Wizards! Oh my!

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Their only spell is the HURT spell. A little on the nose, eh? It inflicts 3 to 10 damage and completely ignores our defense power. We make good use of the RUN command, succeed in our escape, then immediately run into another Magician, who gets in a hit before we can sneak away again.

Escape odds are largely random, but there is an influence from both our and our opponent's Agility stats, and every enemy in the game also has a stat with one of four values that indicate how difficult it is to run from them. Tougher enemies are usually harder to run away from, but that's not always strictly the case.

In addition, if our Strength is at least twice as high as our opponent's, they have a 25% chance of escaping the battle every turn. But that won't be a concern for a while.

If we encountered another Magician right now, they could one-shot us. Time to fall back a bit and try to find critters more our size.

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Uh-oh. Gotta run again.

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Music: "You were killed by a Slime" theme

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Image: ...huh? Is it dinner time already?
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Image: Dude, get off my case, I just got ganked by a Slime! A Slime!
Image: I will give thee another chance.
Image: That's kind of you but I'm going to need therapy too.
Image: To reach the next level, thy Experience Points must increase by 7. Now, go, ZedPower!

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Ah, death in Dragon Warrior. Classic. As you may notice, we just lost half our gold, leaving us with less than we had when we left the inn this morning.

If the King took our money, then he's a dick. So we must have been robbed by monsters! Except the monsters would have taken all of our money, not just half.

So the King's a dick.

In terms of gameplay, this sort of punishment is fairly controversial. It has more leniency than the typical "game over, better reload from a save" because you do get to keep all of your experience and any items you may have found, but there are times when losing half your money feels cruel to the point of naked sadism. I tend to think that the mechanism has slightly more advantages than disadvantages, especially in terms of giving weight and consequence to death, and heightening the tension when you're in over your head, but I certainly remember hitting the reset button in rage and despair more than a few times when I was a kid, so who knows?

Welp, chin up, eyes forward, and once more unto the breach. This is 1986, princesses aren't rescuing themselves yet. Man, that'll be the day.

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Image: Save thy money for more expensive armor.
Image: No, really.

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Image: If what they say can't help me get this Slime joy-goop out of my hair, they can fuck right off.

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Image: Whatever's inside of this cave better be worth it.

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Music: Dungeon theme (first layer)

So, first dungeon. It's hella dark. There's a loud thud when we try to walk into a wall tile so we could navigate by sound if we had to, but that's a colossal pain in the ass and no one should ever put themselves through that. Besides, we came prepared!

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The match is struck! A blazing star is born!

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...oh.

Lighting a torch illuminates the eight tiles immediately around us. This is actually quite realistic vis-à-vis real life torches. Less realistically, it will stay lit as long as we remain in this dungeon, then burn out the instant we see the sun again.

The darkness mechanic doesn't add much to the game in the grand scheme of things. I suspect it's there mostly to make the dungeons feel bigger than they really are. That said, I have to admit it also imparts a certain claustrophobic atmosphere. Let's navigate this cave in real time, maybe you'll see what I mean.



This dungeon is tiny and I ssssssorta remember the way, but you get the picture.

There are two things to note here. First, there are no monsters in this cave. You can probably think of it as a tutorial, letting players get used to finding their way in low light without constant combat pressure, which is especially welcome at this level and this far into the wilderness.

Second, the music slightly changed when going down stairs.

Music: Dungeon theme (second layer)

There is only one dungeon theme for the entire game, but it pitches down and ever so slightly slows down as you go deeper, which is a pretty clever way to go about it, even if the melody itself gets old after a while.

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The red squares are up staircases, the blue square is a down staircase, and the green square is the single chest here. Let's see our reward!

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I am Erdrick and thou art my descendant. Three items were needed to reach the Isle of Dragons, which is south of Brecconary. I gathered these items, reached the island, and there defeated a creature of great evil. Now I have entrusted the three items to three worthy keepers. Their descendants will protect the items until thy quest leads thee to seek them out. When a new evil arises, find the three items, then fight!

Image: Huh.

Our quest now has slightly more direction, even if it's short on actual... well... directions. At least we know not to waste time trying to find our way directly to Charlock for now. That said, it's somewhat questionable to put information this critical in an optional cave that no one ever tells you about.

At any rate, there is nothing else to find here, so we walk back out.

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So, finding the descendants of the "worthy keepers" it is, then. Garinham shouldn't be much further; we didn't have a reason to go there before, but maybe someone there will have some sort of clue for us.

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Ghosts are mostly unremarkable critters, tougher than Red Slimes but not by much. However, they do have fairly high evasion rate for this early in the game. None of your character's stats affect your accuracy in this battle system; instead, all monsters roll a dodge stat every time you attack. For example, Ghosts have a 1 in 16 evasion rate, whereas Slimes and Magicians have it at 1 in 64.

We end the fight with 9 HP, so I decide to return to Brecconary before we push northwest any further.

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And we level up just in time. Two more Strength, two more Agility, two more HP, and...

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We also get 6 max MP and a spell! That's right, we've got a spellcaster here! Which is good, because this is one-man operation. We're not putting together a party here. We couldn't even if we wanted to.

...did I neglect to mention that?

Anyway, new spell.

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HEAL costs 4 MP, and restores 10 to 17 HP. This considerably extends our travel range, but it also means we can get free MP refills from the old man in Tantegel and never have to pay to sleep in Brecconary again. Glorious!

We're still far from being able to afford our Leather Armor though, so we fill up and set out back towards Garinham.

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Ah, here's the last remaining monster type in this region. Drakees have nothing especially noteworthy going on; they're stronger than Red Slimes but not as strong as Ghosts.

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We make it to Garinham not much richer, but in decent shape and with our MP intact.

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The item store has the same inventory as Brecconary's.

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If you think this is a reference to the late 80s early 90s de facto Nintendo Power mascot character, you might be right!

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That doesn't narrow it down by much, but it's a start.

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Hahaha wow, yikes. Any given encounter near Garinham has a one in five chance of being a Magician, who will drop about 10 gold. Trying to save up for any of the stuff here that's not also on sale in Brecconary would take a ludicrous amount of time. For now, our next goal is still a Leather Armor, until we can reach a place where our income increases considerably.

This is an interesting aspect of equipment upgrades in this game. The Half-Plate here makes Chain Mail and Leather Armor obsolete, but trying to make money by grinding the few monsters we are able to kill with our current gear is unreasonable, so there is still a strong incentive to "waste" money on smaller upgrades that allow us to travel further and make money faster.

Nevertheless, we have nothing more to see in this shop.

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Oooh, now we've got two pieces of info to rub together: the Princess was taken east of the castle, to a cave. Worth the trip!

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Image: You're a funny man, you know that?

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And here we see that half the town is behind a locked door. That'll be for much later.

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So. We're now in a situation where we can still barely survive the local bestiary for long, but we've exhausted the locations of interest on the map. What's left is a bridge south of Garinham where danger definitely awaits...

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...and a path northeast of the castle we haven't explored much yet. The bridge definitely makes me nervous, so let's see how far we can go the other way... once we've filled up and saved, of course.

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Image: Well, I'm certainly pleased I didn't pop in here the same way I did last time.
Image: Before reaching thy next level of experience thou must gain 12 Points.

It seems a little weird to hear this from him, but it's the only way we can access this information. It doesn't appear anywhere on our status screen.

Image: Will thou tell me now of thy deeds so they won't be forgotten?
Image: Uh, sure. I went to Garinham, a shopkeep made fun of me with his eyes and I couldn't open a door. Please make sure future generations are able to learn from these glorious exploits.
Image: Thy deeds have been recorded on the Imperial Scrolls of Honor.

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If you want to take a break and shut off the game, that's where you say "no". But we're not done for now.

Image: Goodbye now, ZedPower. Take care and tempt not the Fates.
Image: Well dang, now that you tell me not to, I almost feel like I should.

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Oooh, there's a bridge in the northeast. This one's mostly safe to cross though, because there's an overland path to the other side of the river if you go a bit to the southeast and don't mind crossing a poison swamp, and the encounters there are the same as around Garinham. That said, just before we can explore that way, a fight against a Ghost dangerously depletes our resources, and coincidentally earns us level 4. Two Agility, 6 HP, 10 MP, and our second spell.

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It's our stronger version of the Magician's HURT. It only costs 2 MP, and deals 5-12 damage instead. Considering our club attack has never dealt more than 4 damage at once so far, this is a big deal. It really allows us to punch above our weight, and it remains useful for longer than you might think, since it ignores the defense stat. Unfortunately, many monsters have at least a small chance to resist HURT and completely ignore its damage, but this is not something we have to worry much about for a while.

This spell is also a reason why I want the Leather Armor and maybe even the Small Shield before our next weapon upgrade; it's a big step up for our offensive capabilities, and it doesn't depend on our stats or our gear.

Speaking of gear, we make it back to Tantegel with 4 HP and 71 gold!

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Ah, at last. Maybe we can fight more than two Ghosts in a row without having to run home now.

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Back to the east bridge.

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Further east, another bridge. I suspect this one isn't going to mess around, but I'm feeling saucy, and if the King wants to have half the money we've got right now, he's going to be disappointed.

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Oooh, a cave, in the east. Let's... maybe just check out the environs first.

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Skeletons are several times tougher than anything we've seen so far. They're as dodgy as Ghosts, but have no resistance to HURT at all.

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And it's a good thing too, because our standard attack has a chance to do nothing. This happens when your attack power is lower than the enemy's defense power; in that case it's a coin toss whether you do 0 or 1 damage.

Still...

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Hot damn, now we're cooking with gas!

...we're also feeling considerably less saucy.

Maybe another level or two and a shield would allow us to take out more than one enemy here before getting winded. We'll return to Tantegel, and then it's grinding time! I'll spare you the... the de... tails...

Uh.

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Oh dear.

Let me... let me just get back to you in a bit.

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Friday
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Fri May 11, 2018 2:23 pm

Yeah, DQ's translation is miles above anything else at the time.

It's sort of amazing how quickly the DQ games improved from 1-3, really, despite the series now having a rep for being an unchanging glacier. The first two sequels (especially 3, my god) radically changed the gameplay for the better.

STOP DYING TO RED SLIMES

<:)
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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Sat May 12, 2018 8:35 am

Friday wrote:Yeah, DQ's translation is miles above anything else at the time.

It's sort of amazing how quickly the DQ games improved from 1-3, really, despite the series now having a rep for being an unchanging glacier. The first two sequels (especially 3, my god) radically changed the gameplay for the better.


Amen to that! Half the fun in this LP series is going to be seeing and benefiting from the early evolution of the original trilogy. The polish improves very incrementally, but the underlying systems just get so much more interesting and the actual worlds so much deeper. And even the narrative structure innovation to the fourth game is like a crowning jewel. These games get legitimately ambitious.

STOP DYING TO RED SLIMES


Having played ahead some, I can say with almost complete certitude that I can't make that promise. :D

it is my headcanon that the red slime that killed me was actually the regular slime that killed me first and drank my blood to change color

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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Sun May 13, 2018 12:52 am

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Ah, that's better. We got two levels after all (no new spells, though), and enough dosh for a Small Shield, a Copper Sword, and even an Herb and replacement Torch! It didn't even take that much time. We couldn't stay for long in Skeletonland, and hunting Punch Wizards to extinction would have taken forever, but it turns out that the other side of the bridge south of Garinham has very beatable enemies for the time being, and it's not far to walk from our refill station.

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Scorpions hit fairly hard and have high defense, but no HURT resistance; two casts and a club bonk sufficed to earn us about 12 gold apiece.

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Magidrakees are slightly upgraded Magicians and worth only a bit more exp to kill.

In other good news, we have our final sprite!

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We could keep exploring that region in the west, but I want to go back east and see if we can find a town of some sort. If the Princess is in the cave we saw, she's probably guarded by something a bit tougher than Slimes, and if we have to walk all the way from Tantegel every time we have a go at it, we'll be a quarter dead before we even set foot in the nearby swamp. And besides, we might just be up to fending off a few Skeletons by now.

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Ah, here we go.

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Image: Well, that's almost half a piece of actionable information.

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The Full Plate is new but haha, nope. Depending on how the gold returns are in this area though, we might be in the market for an axe before long.

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Image: Great strength and skill and wit only will bring thee back from that place.
Image: I don't even know how to get there, so I guess I'm safe.

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Image: Eh, I'm not gonna make fun of him. Bagpipes make me sneeze.

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Image: Look, I'm already looking for three magic widgets and a princess, I don't have time to go find Mister Cute Nod To Corporate Media.

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Image: If Golem is afraid of falling asleep, you can make up your next legend about an extremely handsome clubsman who also knows how to put Golem to sleep.

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Hmm, a bit cheaper than Garinham's inn! I didn't expect that. It might be worth our while to hunt the undead around here for a bit.

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Good thing the rheumatism ailment only makes an appearance in Dragon Warrior 4.

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Image: Uh... Old man? Can you... like... shout maybe?
Image: ...
Image: Aw cripes. FINE.

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Image: Did I get poison goop in my boots just to hear you say my gear sucks?
Image: Thou shouldst come here again.
Image: Yeah, I'll... "think about it". Eugh.

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Image: No. I do not. Leave me alone, alright? I don't see anyone else trying to sort this mess out. Do you?

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We can bypass the door to the right by cutting through the baths, but this guy is beyond our reach.

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Image: Nice racket they've got going there. "Yeah we're making keys that can open any door in the world." That'll endear you to people who like their privacy!

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Image: Not yet. Hopefully not ever.
Image: To the south, I believe, is a town called Rimuldar.
Image: ...right. Okay then, hopes shattered. Thanks, buddy.

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The item shop has Wings of the Wyvern, which are one-shot items that will fly us from any point on the overworld straight to Tantegel. It's as close to fast travel as this game ever gets, and it's one-way, so you usually just keep it in your back pocket as a panic button, or for when it's way past your bedtime and mom's already told you to turn off the Nintendo twice. 70 gold is still a lot of dosh for now though, and I suspect we all choose our own bedtime by now, so we skip it.

That's about it for Kol. I'll want to get that axe for sure, but first, just to the west of here there's a passage to the northern part of a previous region that was unreachable from the south due to a mountain range. It shouldn't be a very long trip, so let's check it out.

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Ah, here we are.

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Music: Castle theme

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Image: Well isn't that a new one. Do go on.
Image: Thus, I propose a test. There is a Silver Harp that beckons to the creatures of the Dragonlord. Bring this to me and I will reward thee with the Staff of Rain.

We know a minstrel of some repute built Garinham, so there's a nonzero chance we can learn about that harp there. We'll certainly need to access the rest of the town first, and for that, we'll need a key from Rimuldar. It all goes back to that "dreadful Southern Isle", then, and that probably means we could use another gear upgrade. So here's the plan: let's make enough money off killing a bunch of dead people to buy ourselves a Chain Mail and a Hand Axe.

Gimme just a moment, then...

...dang, change of plans. For some reasons Skeletons are now harder to find than one needle in two haystacks, and if we don't get their 25 gold a pop, the other enemies in the area give 3 to 10. We make enough to buy a Chain Mail, but I'm gonna go nuts fighting around here much longer. Let's shelve the Southern Isle for now, and see if we can find anything of interest west of Tantegel. I'm not sure what we're gonna fight on the way though, so we're splurging on a Wing, just in case.

Oooh, we level up on the way back from Kol, earning a whopping 7 Agility and a new spell.

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SLEEP rolls against your opponent's sleep resistance stat; if it succeeds, they stop taking actions until they wake up, which has a 33% chance of happening every turn. High-tier enemies tend to be very resistant, but it always has at least a 1 in 16 chance to land, and it remains fairly effective for a fair chunk of the game. Just like HURT, it costs only 2 MP.

Some enemies have a SLEEP spell as well, but you always effectively have zero resistance to it. On the plus side, a quirk of the game's random number generator ensures that you never spend more than 6 turns asleep at once. Interestingly, enemies have a basic AI that keeps them from casting it if you're already sleeping.

Alright then. We pay a visit to the King, get two Herbs for luck, and head west.

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A bit further south, we start running into Skeletons again. Just when we're trying to save resources, great.

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We could see this cave from the Tantegel region, but couldn't reach it from there. That said, I want to see how far we can go outdoors, our Wing won't work underground, and I'm just not super feeling fumbling around in the dark right this moment, so let's keep going south.

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Image: Come on! I haven't even touched a single regular wolf in my life! How about... how about you just forget you ever saw me and take a NAP.

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Whuh-oh. Maybe we should have tried that cave after all. A second cast lands, and we beat feet. Wolflords only have a 25% resistance to sleep, and sleeping foes can't stop us from running away. These guys are way out of our league!

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We spend our last MP on a Heal spell. There's a chance we might get back to Tantegel without blowing our Wing, and I'm gonna try it. Our armor makes us hardy enough that normal attacks don't hurt us too bad, and as long as we don't take too many spells to the face we should be all right.

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... actually we run into a couple Magidrakees too many, but I remember the Herbs we took along, and we end up back at base with 24 gold's worth of consumables used up instead of 70. I'll count that as a win!

We're still about 200 gold short of a Hand Axe though, and any other equipment is barely even worth thinking about. Let's check out that western cave. We'll be bringing six Herbs along, but with any luck we'll make more than our money back in spoils.

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Sigh... Here we go.

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Druins are fairly basic critters, slightly tougher than Scorpions, and without noteworthy resistances. Other than that, we also fight Scorpions, as well as Ghosts and Magicians. Nothing too difficult by now. There's a chest on the first floor that would typically contain a Herb, but we already have six, and...

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Oh well.

Reaching the second floor from a staircase in the center of the level, we find a chest with 10 gold, and...

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Poltergeists are a bit tougher than Druins, and have a 75% chance to cast HURT. That said, they have 0 resistance to HURT and SLEEP. Bringing these Herbs was a pretty good idea, it turns out, as we'll need our MP for offense.

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Yikes! These guys are as strong as Skeletons, but they cast HURT like Magicians, and also have a 25% chance to cast SLEEP. Their own resistances are low though, and they drop up to 34 gold.

This is getting tricky. Even if we land a good SLEEP, it takes us several turns to put them down anyway. I think we'll just return to the floor above and grind out the rest of that Axe; we're almost there.

Aaaand we finish mapping out the first floor just as we reach 568 gold. It's AXIN' TIME!

...in the time it took me to type that, I lost track of where I am on my map.

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Welp, there aren't that many west-east-south T intersections, I'm sure I can find my way back out anyway.

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Whew.

We level up on the way to Garinham! No spells, but decent stat increases across the board.

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Aw yeah. That's... five more Attack Power. Welp, it'll still get our work done faster, and we haven't even seen a more expensive weapon than this yet.

On that note, we go back to Tantegel to refill, get more Herbs, and then return to that nefarious cave's second floor. Magicians are starting to run away from us at this point, and we don't need to spend MP to fight Skeletons anymore!

Alright, let's see...

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Ah, sure. I'll just...

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Image: ...

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Image: *seething intensifies*
Image: Rest then for awhile.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun May 13, 2018 2:54 am

Can'st not see shit, milord.

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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Tue May 15, 2018 1:24 am

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Image: Yeah, yeah.

It's okay. I'm okay. We're okay. I'm mad, but mostly at myself. It's fine. It'll be fine.

It'll be fine soon.

Let's try the cave south of Kol instead of returning to that nameless western hole in the ground, shall we?

On our way, we do stop in Kol for another set of Wings and a... a Torch. Yes. Ahem. It does help that anything weaker than a Scorpion often tries to run away from us by now, or usually dies in one hit if they stand their ground.

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Alright then, it's nose-holding time.

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Well that was extraordinarily unpleasant; it's a 20 HP toll at best. Getting this close to the cave entrance does reveal that there's an exit on the other side of the river, so it must be the way to the Southern Isle. Hopefully Rimuldar isn't too far inland.

We use an Herb to ensure we don't get ganked by the first twerp we run into, and head inside.

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A single Scorpion fight later...

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...huh.

I'm not one to look a gift staircase in the mouth, but I can't help but suspect there might be more to this tunnel than meets the eye.

Hmm.

Hmmmmmm.

Ah, to hell with it, let's get outta here.

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From a design point of view, the simple straight path through this cave makes a lot of sense, seeing as it's not a one-and-done dungeon, but a path we'll have to take several times. It's even easy to navigate without a Torch if you're just passing through.

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Wolves are easily the toughest enemies we've met so far, barring the one Wolflord, but they have no HURT resistance and only the faintest chance to resist SLEEP.

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They also drop up to 49 gold! If we can find an inn close by, we'll have decent upgrades before long.

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Metal Scorpions don't hit as hard as Wolves, but they have much higher defense power and lower hit points, so it's best to use HURT if you can spare the juice. They have zero resistance to SLEEP but at this point they'd probably wake up before our axe would finish them off.

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Oh-ho!

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Dreadful Southern Isle my ass, this was practically trivial! Man, it's been a hike and a half, though. We could really go for some pizza, or spaghetti, or... or even just a refreshing tankard of the purest, coolest tomato juice.

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Image: Madam! Please! I must know! Do you have... Perchance, might you possibly have some tomatoes for sale?
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Image: AUGH! NOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOO!

Behold the tragedy of a world in thrall to the Dragonlord.

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Image: My heart is dust and my mouth ashen at the news of your tomato situation, but I must persevere, and I shall. Let us carry on bravely, brother.

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That's expensive for an inn without tomatoes, but we can actually make that amount back pretty quick around here, so we spend the night right away.

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Image: It... has been indeed! I'd stay and chat, but, you know, busy, and all. Safe travels!

Presumably we met this dude in Brecconary, but I don't think any of the NPCs would be missing from there if we visited again. Or maybe this is the one portion of the dialog that implies in any way that the character we're playing was existing in the world before the game started.

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The contents of that chest had better be rad as hell to justify two locks.

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It's probably behind that locked door in the northeast tower we saw back then.

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Image: Nah dude, I'm a true warrior and I don't have a ring. Wait a minute. Are you running a jewelry store? Are you trying to make rings cool? Get outta here.

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Man that Broad Sword is tempting, but I suspect the Half-Plate would more efficiently improve our staying power, especially since we have rely on HURT spells to take out Metal Scorpions. The Full Plate would be nice of course but I don't know if I want to grind up 3k right now. (Actually, that's a lie. I apologize. I know very well I don't want to grind up 3k.)

The Magic Armor has the exact same defense power as Full Plate, but it reduces received HURT spell damage by a third, and causes you to regenerate 1 HP every four steps you take. That's a hell of a lot of money for these little perks, though.

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Image: Whoops, my bad, sorry, I'll let myself out.

Man, it's good to see RPGs kill that whole "going in people's houses and taking their stuff" thing in the egg so early, and we never have to witness this sociopathic nonsense from so-called heroes again.

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There's a stream going all the way around this town, so we can't quite reach that building from here. Hmm.

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Image: 'Tis also said that he entered the darkness from a hidden entrance in the room of the Dragonlord.

Well that sounds like important information right there.

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Image: No pressure, huh?

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Image: Maybe... Maybe a sword made of a high-pressure jet of water mixed in with abrasives. Let me know when you guys work that out.

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Image: Nnnnnnno?
Image: Go to the south.
Image: Ah. The south. Where the fierce and terrible monsters live. I love you too, man.

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It's not, like, super immediately obvious, but we can walk around the outside of the stream from here. Let's try south first.

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Image: Maybe don't wait for him to bring you tomatoes.

Retracing our steps back east, then north...

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Try as we might, there is nothing we can do to reunite these star-crossed lovers. They insist on waiting for each other at opposite ends of town. It shows the importance of compromise in a relationship, doesn't it? If you retain only one lesson from this adventure, dear viewers, let it be that one.

Or the one about bringing torches in dark places. Either or.

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So here's a kick in the pants. Each key can only be used once, and you gotta buy them for 53 gold each. And most doors don't have the courtesy to stay open when you leave the area. I'm buying four right now. We were one fifth of the way to getting an armor upgrade, and now we're destitute.

Welp, let's start using them up right away and check out that chest at the inn.

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Image: You wouldn't know that Nester guy, would you? Ah, never mind.

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...

Eh, okay, Wings cost 70, and the extra key we used to get them was 53. Fine.

That's all Rimuldar had to offer us. We could go open a few doors right away, but right this moment we're just going to explore the island and make a bit of money off the local wildlife. Let's see...

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Oof, we burn through MP fast, and we use up our stock of Herbs on our first trip of any distance. In addition to Wolves and Metal Scorpions, there are also Warlocks and Skeletons wandering around. It's rough going! Unfortunately there is no item shop in Rimuldar, so we can't even completely restock. Guess we'll be grinding nearby for a while until we can afford at least a Half-Plate, and maybe a Broad Sword. Alright then, see you in a bit.

...

......

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SON OF A-

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Image: I... I fell asleep.
Image: ...
Image: That's not what it sounds like! Just take my money and let me go, will you? Cripes.

Welp. At least we can open a couple doors in here, and restock on Herbs.

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Image: ...Well then they'll call me the coward who defeated the Dragonlord. Out of my way!

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So that's... 36 gold. We're upside down 17 gold on that key.

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Image: It's a legend.
Image: Oh! Right! Stones of Sunlight, Staff of Rain, Erdrick made a rainbow. I get it.

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So here's another kick in the pants. You can buy keys in Tantegel. They cost 32 more gold than in Rimuldar, and you need to blow a key just to get in every time you want to buy a set. Le sigh. We pass this time.

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Image: At the World-famous Warrior Wishing Well!
Image: May the light be thy strength!

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These horrible trap tiles each cost 15 health to step on. This dude better be worth it.

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That... actually sounds like useful information. Alright then.

Finally, going around the east side of the castle...

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I suspect the whole deal with Orwick and his paramour is there to teach us we can do this.

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Image: Take the Treasure Chest.
Image: Are you sure? No proof needed, no bullshit? I can just take it?

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We can just take it!

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Well that's one widget down.

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Image: Gosh, sorry for showing a little happiness then. I'll show myself out!

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The Stones do nothing on their own, they're a plot coupon. Still, one fewer to go after.

Alright then, time to head back to Rimuldar, grind up at least one gear upgrade and as many keys as we can carry. I'll let you know if anything interesting happens.

Achievement unlocked! The real Dragon Warrior starts here.

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Friday
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Wed May 16, 2018 12:03 am

Fun fact: Watching my brother play Dragon Warrior as a small child, I was terrified whenever he would go into a cave without a torch or other light source, and would close my eyes and just listen to the bumps as he constantly hit walls until I heard a battle start so I could open them again

"oh no you're in the dark, something might get you scary"

*a literal monster attacks my brother in the darkness*

"oh whew I can open my eyes its just a battle"
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mharr
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby mharr » Wed May 16, 2018 12:34 am

One of the greatest life lessons of videogames is that monsters are real, but conveniently mortal.

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Silversong
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Silversong » Wed May 16, 2018 8:44 am

mharr wrote:One of the greatest life lessons of videogames is that monsters are real, but conveniently mortal.


Relevant:

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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Wed May 16, 2018 2:01 pm

In pure gameplay terms, the darkness mechanic is an obnoxious trainwreck and I'm chuffed that they threw it out of an airlock for the sequel. It's clearly a relic of Wizardry's limited first-person perspective that they tried to approximate in bird's-eye view.

But man, that screen's really effing black a lot of the time and it absolutely has a psychological payload tickling our primal fears. Monsters are everywhere and you get to stack their corpses like cordwood, but the darkness is always pressing down on you, and even improved means of illumination later on don't entirely neutralize its weight.

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Rico
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Rico » Wed May 16, 2018 11:25 pm

Playing Torches and Radiant against each other in a resource management dungeon crawl is pretty great, especially the feeling when they start to wear out and the illumination constricts. I've always preferred DQ's attrition to FF and most others' full resources to fight the boss choice though abandoning light as part of that in later games didn't really affect things much as they had blind screen transitions effectively mirror it.

(Release date September 4th fuuuuuuuuuuuck)

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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Wed May 16, 2018 11:50 pm

Yeah there's definitely some strategizing to it but it probably works better on paper, like the way it's implemented feels like a kick in the dick half the time. I... do tend to hate timed sections in games though so maybe that has something to do with it.

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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Wed May 16, 2018 11:55 pm

And we're back, two levels stronger. Level 9 gave us 8 Strength, 2 Agility, 4 HP, 6 MP, and a new spell.

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RADIANT is a Torch replacement! It costs 3 MP, and unlike Torches it has a set duration. It keeps its initial 3 tile radius for 80 steps, then shrinks to 2 tiles for 60 steps, and lasts for another 60 steps before it fades completely. We can refresh the duration anytime, though.

Level 10 gave us 5 Strength, 9 Agility, 3 HP, 4 MP and... another spell!

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STOPSPELL costs 2 MP, and rolls against your opponent's STOPSPELL resistance. If it succeeds, it permanently prevents them from casting spells. Even better, they'll even spend turns failing to cast, so against magic-inclined monsters with weak physical attacks, it's much better than SLEEP. Non-casters typically have a 15/16 resistance to it, but it has no effect on them so it doesn't matter.

Some enemies also know STOPSPELL, including Wolflords for example. Fortunately, the player has a 50% resistance to it, and the effect does not persist after combat ends.

Another mechanic that came up a few times during the grind is the critical hit chance, or "excellent blow" as the in-game text calls it. Every time we use the ATTACK command, we have a 1/32 chance of performing a special attack that ignores defense power. Monsters never roll for excellent blows, so you don't have to worry about random damage spikes if you have a basic idea of how hard a given critter generally hits. That's an extremely good design decision; getting caught with your pants down by a new enemy that you don't know much about is one thing, getting one-shot out of the blue by an old enemy because of a rare dice roll is another.

Unfortunately, the enemy's dodge chance does apply to your excellent blows, so you can very much roll a crit that your opponent immediately dodges.

This sometimes has dire consequences.

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Anyway! The grind was slow going at first, with us barely making more money on each sortie than the cost of an inn stay. The 8 Strength increase from level 9 tipped the scales in our favor, and every subsequent upgrade allowed longer, more profitable hunting trips. By level 10, we could efficiently kill Metal Scorpions without HURT and Wolves without SLEEP, and our new STOPSPELL completely neuters Warlocks.

And so...

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Our next upgrade is going to be the Large Shield from Garinham, but I'm about at my limit for grinding right now. Let's explore the rest of this Southern Isle. If we can't find Princess Gwaelin in this eastern region, it means she must be in the tunnel from Kol, and we can check it out on our way back.

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Up in the northwest, we find this peculiar terrain. Looks like it would be a nice place for a rainbow bridge! In fact, the landmass to the west is indeed the Isle of Dragons, where accursed Charlock stands; even if we could make it there right away, we'd probably catch a hell of a whupping.

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This is the southern tip of the Southern Isle. We've been warned of tough monsters living even further to the south, but if we get in over our heads we can spare a Wing.

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Wyverns are a bit stronger than Wolflords, with a 25% resistance to SLEEP and no other notable attributes. One might expect that they would drop Wings of the Wyvern, but there's no such thing as an item drop in this game. Anyway, let's... just take out this one and turn back, shall we?

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93? Oh my!

It... might be worth our while to go a little further.

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At least to this point of interest, maybe.

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Oof. Goldmen are highly resistant to everything but HURT; they don't hit as hard as Wyverns but are much more durable. Given their substance, they also have the highest possible gold drop in the game: 150 to 199. We're running away from this one though, we're hitting for 8 and it's hitting back for 11.

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Image: Uh. Um. Okay? Wow. That's... okay then. Not gonna lie, weight off my shoulders. But... I don't have a plan B, man. Zero head for business. Do you have any advice?
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He unceremoniously teleports us outside. Welp. That's it for these islands, let's head back to Rimuldar. The Dragonlord's off the table but maybe we can still find the princess.

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That was by far the furthest from Tantegel we've ever been.

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Image: If you mean that asshole's house down south, then yeah.
Image: In this temple do the sun and rain meet.
Image: They'll have to meet for somebody else, I guess.

That's about it for this place. We've made enough money sneaking in lucky Wyvern and Wolflord kills on our way back north to upgrade our shield, so let's hoof it to Garinham right quick. Or heck, we have an extra pair of Wings, let's save some time.

We level up off a Ghost on the way, earning a good amount of stats across the board, including an exceptional 9 MP.

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Oooh, that Shield gets us a respectable 6 more Defense Power. I'll take it!

Before we go on the last phase of our much-shorter-than-expected-dragon-quest-with-very-few-dragons-actually, let's open a couple doors in Brecconary.

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Well, we had that one deduced, but it's good to have confirmation. Not that the harp will be any use to us now.

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Fairy Water is a one-shot item that prevents random encounters with enemies whose defense is lower than our Strength, and it lasts 128 steps. It's a pleasant convenience, so we pick up a couple and use one right away for our trip back to the eastern tunnel.

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Image: Actually I was going to drink it, but I fat-fingered the bottle and spilled it all over. I hope it still works.

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It does!

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Okay, lessee...

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Oh this is much better! If the Princess is here, we almost can't help but find her now. Let's get to exploring that eastern section.

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!!!

Image: Alright you overgrown corn snake, I may not be the descendant of Erdrick, but I've got a real-ass sword, and I've got a real-ass suit of armor, and I've got a real-ass shield, and I know real-ass magic, so BRING IT THE HELL ON.

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Image: Maybe that old fart had a point.

The Green Dragon is much stronger than anything we've encountered so far. Mostly it just has high stats, but it also uses a fire breath attack 25% of the time, causing between 16 and 23 damage, bypassing both defense power and the Magic Armor's special resistance (not that we have it). I've tried putting it to sleep because it "only" has a 9 in 16 chance of resisting it, but to no avail. Our Broad Sword couldn't put a dent in its hide, and I doubt chipping away at its HP with the HURT spell (which it slightly resists) would have killed it faster than it could kill us.

I think this is very effective, thematically. This is the first dragon we meet, in this game called Dragon Warrior. It does not screw around. Taking it down will be a Big Deal.

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Image: It was an actual dragon this time, so you gotta agree I'm moving up in the world, right?

Oh well. It doesn't look like the actual descendant of Erdrick has showed up yet, and we got a bunch of keys, so we might as well tie up some loose ends. Let's head for Kol.

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What did that Howard guy say? Four steps south of the bath...?

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Let's see if that menu option even does anything.

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Ah! Alright then. This must be what the fairies used to put Golem to sleep. Shame it probably doesn't work on dragons.

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Image: Yeah. It sucked but I made mad bank, so it's okay.
Image: I have heard that powerful enemies live there.
Image: You heard right, broseph. The wizards there have sticks!

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Image: Your... uh... Your precious, legendary village treasure? Nah.
Image: Howard had it, but he went to Rimuldar and never returned.
Image: Is there a reward for bringing it back? What should I do if I find it?
Image: Go to the town of Cantlin.
Image: I'll keep it in mind thanks goodbyeeeeee!

Next on the list: that cave in the west that we were forced to leave half-unexplored due to completely unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control!

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This is so much better, dang. We can one-shot basically everything on the first floor, so let's head to the second right away.

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The Drakeema is the strongest Drakee variant, which... doesn't mean much. It's about equivalent to a Skeleton, but it has a 25% chance to cast HEAL if it's below 25% HP, otherwise it casts HURT half the time instead of attacking. We can one-shot it.

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And this weird thing is also basically a Skeleton equivalent, maybe a bit weaker. Man, it's been like a quarter century and I still have no idea what it's supposed to be.

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These two chests in the north side yield a Torch (ha. ha.) and...

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The Fighter's Ring does nothing. Zero statistical effect, doesn't change your resistances, nothing. Maybe we can impress that one jerk back in Rimuldar with it, though.

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And this one chest in the west... contains 117 gold.

Ehh.

That's it.

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That's all she wrote.

From a game design perspective, this cave is kinda weird. The enemies on the second floor are generally a bit stronger than around Kol, and weaker than around Rimuldar, but it's on the other side of the world so it's not an intuitive mid-point. It's also too far from an inn to be a convenient grinding location, and the contents of its chests are either garbage or not worth the effort. It does have three staircases you can use to go from floor to floor, so maybe this is to help new players realize that dungeons can have multiple ways to traverse layers.

On the other hand, modern open-world games are often peppered with various dead-end caves containing dubious rewards, and Dragon Warrior has the courtesy to have only this one, so who's to say which way progress goes?

Anyway. Let's head back to Rimuldar to fill up on keys and obtain some random adventurer's approval.

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Image: What!? I'm not... This is not a... It's a... Bah, forget it.

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Alright, that's over with. What are our next objectives?

-Killing a dragon that we have every reason to believe is guarding a princess. I hope she's alright in there, because this won't be within our reach for a while.
-Exploring the southwestern regions, in Wolflord country. More plausible than dragonslaying, but I'm not too keen yet.
-Grinding up a suit of Full Plate. Yikes, no.
-Digging up a dead bard to reduce the workload of the actual descendant of Erdrick, whenever they show up. How hard can it really be?

Welp, Garinham it is. Let's hope we don't have to buy a shovel.

User avatar
TA
Posts: 1787
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:58 pm

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby TA » Thu May 17, 2018 12:38 am

Decompiling the game has shown that the Fighter's Ring is bugged and has zero effect, but it was probably supposed to do something.

Drolls are probably supposed to be Trolls.
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Friday
Posts: 2635
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:40 pm
Location: A user of Sosuns

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Thu May 17, 2018 12:50 am

I always assumed it was the attack version of the Dragon Scale, like it would give a small attack power of maybe +2 or +4, but that is was bugged. I imagine that is probably the case. That would make that cave have a point, after all, a permanent +4 attack power boost isn't nothing.
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François
Posts: 1288
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:00 am

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Thu May 17, 2018 7:15 am

Yeah, the game's re-releases make the Ring give you like +2 attack power, IIRC. Which is a pretty big deal worth the inventory slot, considering how low the mechanical numbers are in this series.

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Silversong
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:00 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Silversong » Thu May 17, 2018 8:39 am

Thank you for this, François. I intend to spend all weekend listening to my symphonic Dragon Quest cds.

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François
Posts: 1288
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:00 am

Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Thu May 17, 2018 11:07 am

Ha, my pleasure! Even if this was the only good thing to come out of these labors, they would have been worth it.

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