Dragon Quest I & II (SNES)

Pub: Enix | Dev: ChunSoft | December 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub: Enix | Dev: ChunSoft | December 1993 | 16 MEGS

Earlier today (August 10), Square Enix released Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS. These digital releases in Japan were made to capitalize on the latest entry, Dragon Quest XI, which was released in Japan on July 29, 2017 (and is confirmed to receive a North American release at a future date TBD). This isn’t the first time Dragon Quest and its sequel have been re-released. In late 2000, a Game Boy Color version of the two games was made. But even before all of that, you had the Super Famicom version which came out on December 18, 1993. It featured both games on one cart and the graphics were improved. While the visuals didn’t take full advantage of the SNES capabilities, it was still a decent step up from the NES graphics. Unfortunately, Dragon Quest I & II never made its way to American soil. However, a fan translated English patch has long since been put out, allowing SNES gamers to fully enjoy Dragon Quest I & II on their Super Nintendo. With these two games being re-released (again) today in Japan, there’s no better time to take a look back than now.

And you thought Street Fighter refused to die!
And you thought Street Fighter refused to die!
Dragon Quest XI. The series keeps on ticking
Dragon Quest XI – the series keeps on ticking!


This left a lasting impression on a generation
This left a lasting impression on a generation

Dragon Quest was released on the Famicom on May 27, 1986. It was later released to the North American market as Dragon Warrior in August of 1989. Wow. This month marks the 28th anniversary since Dragon Warrior left its mark on an entire generation of NES playing kids. Many people consider Dragon Quest to be the granddaddy of the RPG genre. It inspired other companies to try their own hand, giving birth to classic franchises like Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy. In terms of influence, one could even argue that Dragon Quest is to RPGs as Super Mario Bros. is to platformers.








Immediately you can see that the SNES version enjoyed a visual boost. I’m not a graphics whore but it’s hard to go back to the NES original after seeing and playing the SNES version.







Select your game of choice. If you’re brand new to the series, definitely start with the first one. It’s harder to appreciate the original if you play Dragon Quest II first.


Lets call this brave handsome hero... Steve ;)
Lets call this brave handsome hero… Steve ;)







“Demons all over the world were taken out by Roto and this powerful Ball of Light. But then, the evil King Dragon appeared. He stole the Ball of Light and sealed it in darkness. If he is not stopped soon, it will be the end of the world as we know it. It’s up to you to stop him and bring back the Ball of Light by any means necessary!”







Another massive improvement: now you can talk to someone or search something without having to go through the cumbersome “action” menu. Do this by pressing either X, L or R. Of course, you still have the option to use the action menu but you’d be crazy to. This definitely makes the game a smoother playing experience. It’s a big reason why many prefer this version over the original.







Princesses and demons…








Thanks to the more functional control scheme, searching for hidden items is no longer as tedious or annoying. Once you’re stocked, it’s time to venture out. I like how the final castle looms in the distance and you can see it right away. It’s an effective tease!







Outside, the random battles begin. There’s no animation from the enemies to speak of, but it’s Dragon Quest. You’re not here for mind-blowing graphics. For what it is, it works.







Health running low? Retreat back to town to rest at the Inn. You can also head to the vault and either deposit or withdraw items. Since your inventory has a limited number of slots, wise management is crucial.







Exploring towns and villages is a must. You never know what helpful items you may uncover. That wise old man is the one to see when cursed.







Entering certain buildings lead to such quirky transitions.







Beating random enemies and leveling up is all part of the grind [HA HA -Ed.]. You’ll even learn some magic spells as you level up.







Discovering a new town or village for the first time is always a welcomed sight, especially for weary warriors. Even if it means, and I say this with the utmost affection, dealing with some of the village yahoos… :P







You’re going to need the torch here to light the way. At the end you come to a tombstone with a special message directed to you from the legendary Roto himself.







Wounded in battle but far away from town? Toss the Wing of the Chimera up in the air to take you back to the nearest town. Then you can rest at the local inn. Be sure to always carry at least one Chimera Wing with you. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of nowhere with no medical herbs or magic points to heal yourself.







Having a tough time with the latest batch of enemies? Then be sure to upgrade your weapons and armor. I like how the game shows you the difference. Believe it or not, not every RPG following Dragon Quest did this. That’s my biggest pet peeve with certain RPGs other than excessive random battles. Show me the difference, damnit! Ahem. Oh, and don’t forget to sell obsolete items [Yessssss, DELETE! -Broken Matt Hardy]







Typically, it’s just a matter of leveling up a bit and/or upgrading your weapons and armor. That’s been the RPG way ever since.







Ooooh, ahhh. Check out the brand new tree shadows in the village of Kol! This is perhaps the coolest visual tweak as the NES original did not feature this. It’s a small detail but goes a long way to add that extra punch.







These sultry ladies sure are friendly. This dialogue was removed from the US version of Dragon Warrior for obvious reasons.







Whoever this wise old man is, he sure gets around! Obviously, they just recycle the sprite. Hey, you had to use your imagination a bit back in the day.

Leveling up always perks me up
Leveling up always perks me up
Enemies get progressively tougher
Enemies get progressively tougher
Someone's been hustling in the streets
Someone’s been hustling in the streets
Check your status screen every so often
Check your status screen every so often
Um... uh... do we have to do this in front of your dad?
Um… uh… do we have to do this in front of your dad?
Crossing borders usually meant new enemies
Crossing borders usually meant new enemies
The final battle is nearly at hand
The final battle is nearly at hand
Feel my power, Dark Dragon!
My final stats
I get that a lot [ONLY in video games -Ed.]
I get that a lot [ONLY in video games -Ed.]


[Dont even tell me. His name is... Steve -Ed.]
[Don’t even tell me. His name is… Steve -Ed.]






Together, this young man and his bride left on a journey and built several new countries. These countries were ruled by the children of that young couple, and were handed down to the following generation.







“DAMN that Hargon! We cannot surrender. Summon the soldiers at once!”







Sadly, as the guard went to carry out the King’s order, a demon swooped in for the kill. Strickened with fear and panic, the King urged his daughter to take cover and not to worry about whatever may happen to him.







Courageous to the bitter end, the King gave the demons all he had. His daughter, Maria, stood by watching and praying for the best.







Unfortunately, the demons called for backup and swarmed the King. He stood no chance, and Princess Maria had no choice but to honor her father’s last request: HIDE. And so she did. What became of her is a mystery that will be solved later…







Luckily, one brave soldier was able to escape the ruckus. He immediately limped all the way to the nearest castle to inform the King there before passing out. It was his valiant effort that set forth a tremendous domino effect. History honors his name.







Unlike the first Dragon Quest, this time two fellow allies will accompany you and assist in the great war. They also share the blood of Roto.







Another new aspect: now you square off with multiple enemies at a time rather than just one. Once in a while you’ll even land a lucky strike that hits with more power than your regular attack. It’s signaled by the words “Terrific move!”







However, this system had a slight flaw. Say you have two Big Slugs and they’re grouped together. Well, you can’t select which specific slug you want to hit. You just pick the group and the rest is up to the game. You can see how this affects strategy once the other two members join the party. Thankfully though, the game is pretty good with allocating your attacks properly. It’s not always perfect, but it gets it right most of the time. Still, I would have preferred being given the choice since that would leave no room for error.







Speak with all the villagers. Some will pass along pertinent information to aid you in your quest. Others, however, are used for comic relief. But nothing wrong with that! Seeing what random kooky thing some Regular Joe NPC might say is all part of the charm.







Rummage around — you never know what you might find. Although it is a pretty low thing to be stealing lottery tickets. But only in video games, right? Some of the locals, by the way, aren’t so friendly. You can already tell that girl is going to be the one wearing the pants in the relationship :P

Even if religion isn't your thing, it pays in video games
Even if religion isn’t your thing, it pays in video games







Speaking of the Prince, how about we go find him?







Where have I heard that name Kain before? No matter, the Spring of Bravery, you say? I’m so there! A nearby guard clues you in as to where this Spring is located.







Before taking off, a guard upstairs doesn’t hesitate to throw a little bit of shade at the Prince. Chuckling to yourself, you head off to find the Spring of Bravery.







Seeing a treasure chest lying in the open is always a great feeling. They just jump off the screen with their red and gold design. Once deep inside, you find a wise elder who soaks your body in the purifying water. Instant heals are the best in RPGs.







You’re joking, right? Oh you’re being serious. I see. Damnit. You know what, no biggie. It’s all good. After all, I got some exercise, fresh air and leveled up a bit. I’ll just go to Laurasia Castle now to find that little cheeky nomad.







*HALF A DAY’S JOURNEY LATER* WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! Alright, off to Sumaltria it is, then. Kain’s ass best be there.







Alright, THIS IS BULLSHIT. Where the hell are ya, Kain? You got me on some chicken egg hunt here. This ain’t scavenger hunt! *You even begin to wonder if this is some rib and that Kain is in another RPG…*







FINALLY. You’ve been searching for me? Oh boy, HAVE I BEEN SEARCHING FOR YOU.







Despite some, ahem, trouble meeting up, once you do you’re glad to have Kain along for the ride. He makes for some passable conversation and unlike you he can use magic on the bad guys. After coming to this strange strip of land tucked away in a far corner of the map, an old hermit tips you off to your next location.







Approaching the mouth of the enormous cave, a knot starts forming in the pit of your belly. You nervously joke with Kain about accepting his sister’s offer to help out. Kain reminds you she’s useless and you shake it of. Get a grip, you tell yourself quietly. You were born for this moment. “FREEEEEEDOM!!!” Hey, whatever it takes to psych yourself up.







Another feature added into the Super Famicom version was the inclusion of seeds (or acorns). This was not available in the NES original. When seeds are acquired, it’s best to use them right away. They randomly increase a certain skill level by 1-4 points. It sucks when you get a 1, but it’s a high when you land a 3 or a 4.







Prince Kain is definitely a welcomed addition to the team. While weak physically, his magic packs some potency.







Explore! Or else you may miss out on valuable treasure chests tucked away in obscure corners. Ah, the Silver Key! What was it again that the prisoner told you?







*FLASHBACK* Ohhhh yeah…







Travel back to all previous towns and start opening shit up! The Silver Key has unlimited usage so open without discretion.







Remember that lottery ticket you jacked earlier on? You felt bad at the time for doing so, but any feelings of remorse went straight out the window the second you scored the Prayer Ring…







Scattered throughout the land is the lottery man. He’s even nice enough to give you a free ticket sometimes if you match two out of three.







Hmmm, I wonder where this leads…







Sorry, but I don’t care to hear what your safe word is. Freak.







Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. But be careful, an attempt to flee from battle ISN’T always successful. And if it isn’t, the computer gets first crack. It’s definitely a roll of the dice…







Management of your health and magic points is key. Don’t enter a battle ill-equipped and most likely you won’t have to worry about fleeing. Of course, some luck never hurts as well (i.e. “terrific” strikes, catching the opposition dozing, etc.)







Moonbrook appears to be in shambles. You and Kain brave the pain of the hazardous moat to see if anyone is still alive, including Princess Maria…







Careful, the enemies start to get tough here and can come in waves of five. Make it to the flame at the end and try speaking to it. It turns out to be the spirit of the deceased King, who informs you that his daughter has been cursed and turned into a dog. Hey, wait a second here, where have I seen a dog before…







Having obtained the Mirror of Ra (thanks to the guard for the tip — may he now rest peacefully), you recall to yourself where you had seen that mutt before. OK, here goes nothing, you think to yourself as you raise the Mirror of Ra high above your head. You can’t help but feel a little silly in doing so, but when the fate of the world hangs in the balance, you’re willing to do just about anything…







HOLY SMOKES — it actually worked! I mean, I knew it would all along. Of course you did…







Avengers assemble! Not quite, but your rag tag group of three is now complete and ready to kick some demon ass. By the way, remember the Metal Slime? Of course you do. The bastard often runs away but if you manage to kill him, a HEAP of experience points is your reward.







Princess Maria isn’t much of a physical attacker, but her spells come in handy. Especially the sleep spell, which can subdue an entire group and save you from being pummeled.







Where will this adventure take you and your friends next? Many unusual lands lie ahead. Enjoy the journey!







Caught in the act! I KNEW THERE WERE TWO KAINS! One from Dragon Quest II and one from Final Fantasy II! I’ll be damned…

Really? Thank you for your very helpful assistance
Really? Now I see why they call you Wise Old Man…
You again? Let's see how wise you truly are...
You again? Let’s see how wise you truly are…
Yep, he's wise. Only a fool passes up on a Benjamin...
Yep, he’s wise. Only a fool passes up on a Benjamin…
Enemies get crazier as you go along
Enemies get crazier looking as you progress
And scarier looking
And scarier looking
See what I mean?
See what I mean?
Save as often as you can. Trust me...
Save at every opportunity you can. Trust me
Uhh.... excuse me?
Uhh… excuse me?
Search often! You could see some Seeds
Search often! You could find some Seeds
I always get a stupid grin whenever I level up
I always get a stupid grin whenever I level up
HALLELUJAH! This gives me a REALLY fat stupid grin
Like I said, search the f*ck everywhere
Like I said, search the f*ck everywhere
I'll take the '80s myself, but that's just me
I’ll take the late ’80s to mid ’90s myself but that’s just me
Adventure, redemption and friendship. What else ya need?
Adventure, redemption and friendship. What else ya need?
[Like I said before, ONLY in gawd damn video games -Ed.]
[Like I said before, ONLY in gawd damn video games -Ed.]


Credit to Did You Know Gaming
Credit to Did You Know Gaming
Yuji Horii explains why he's all about that grind life
Yuji Horii explains why he’s all about that grind life



Dragon Quest has earned an outstanding reputation within the gaming community and rightfully so. It gave birth to so many other great RPGs. It paved the way for future classics. As such, it will always be highly regarded. The first game has definitely aged. It features a single party member and you always fight only one enemy at a time. It’s super basic but what did you expect for 1986? You can’t really compare it to other RPGs at the time when this Super Famicom version came out in late 1993. You have to look at it through the proper lens to truly appreciate it. The sequel obviously ups the ante by including team allies as well as the number of monsters you fight at a time. Even then, you have to keep in mind Dragon Quest II originally came out on January 27, 1987. That’s more than 30 years ago. RPGs have come a long way since 1987, so it’d be foolish to go into it expecting a ton of bells and whistles. For what these games are, they get the job done.


Thank you Yuji Horii, Koichi Sugiyama and Akira Toriyama
The RPG series that more or less started it all!

Dragon Quest is a quintessential video game. If you consider yourself an RPG fan or even just a video game historian of sorts, Dragon Quest belongs on that list of games you must play through at least once before you die. It’s a time capsule — a look back in time when RPGs didn’t saturate the market. If you enter this with the right mindset, you’re sure to enjoy the experience. ChunSoft could have mailed it in, but they made some significant improvements over the NES original. Visuals, of course. But little things such as adding in seeds, extra shops, reduced grinding and the like speak to the care that they put into this lovely two for one package.

Adventure awaits! What are you waiting for?
Adventure awaits! What are you waiting for?

Dragon Quest II ups the ante by being bigger and better. It took me 11 hours to beat the first game while the second quest took me approximately 30 hours. It’s not that long but I took my sweet time. It plays a lot more like the RPGs we came to know and love in the ’90s by having a party of playable characters and whatnot. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the brilliance of the music. Each tune fits the moment to a tee, ranging from whimsical to foreboding. Both games were classics for their time and if you take them for what they were when they originally came out, then you’ll most likely appreciate and enjoy it. If you’re looking for something on a grand and epic scale along the lines of a Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy III, however, you might end up being a little disappointed. Dragon Quest I & II is straight forward — what you see is what you get. It serves as an excellent history lesson as well. If you have been curious about these games but never got to try them, then this SNES remake is definitely the way to go. Playing Dragon Quest I & II lets you see more or less how JRPGs came to be. If nothing else, these games are worth going through at least once just for that reason alone.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 7

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

Go Go Ackman Trilogy (SFC)

Not your typical SNES hero!
Not your typical SNES hero!

Today we look at a platforming trilogy based on the 1993 manga by Akira Toriyama. The GO GO ACKMAN games definitely have some good things going for them. You control Ackman, supposedly Satan’s lackey. As you slay enemies your winged companion captures their souls in a little jar (100 grants you an extra life). It’s all quite bizarre from the sense of humor to the bosses. Go Go Ackman does nothing new but what it does it does well.

The original is my favorite of the 3. It hooked me and I finished it the very same day. Punch, kick, run, jump, slide, climb, you even have bombs — all the quintessential platforming features. What’s really nice is Ackman can jump on an angel’s head and send it sliding across the screen taking out others (a la the koopa shells).

And for a little more oomph
And for a little more oomph

And of course what hero, or in this case, anti-hero, would be complete without the power-up shot? Making the game extra fun is the ability to pick up three weapons along the way. Check them out below.

And my favorite, the gun
And my favorite, the gun

The weapon is forfeited upon first hit, but on the upside a health bar is not deducted. FYI: the sequels you start with a sword, and weapons collected will remain even after receiving damage. I personally prefer the original way as it rewards skilled play. Again, I like the first game the most of this trilogy. Let’s take a look at some of the stages.



The first level is your standard, plain, easy stage, but I really like its look and early on I could tell this was going to be a nice little game.



Here we are introduced to a darker brown tone with lots of hills to jump from, and plenty of instant death pitfalls.


There’s even the force scrolling level thrown in for good measure. This one being a car ride. Of course, Ackman has his own special advertising splashed on the vehicle.


The first boss is really simple. Just a big fancy suit-and-tie corporate fiend.

My, what big teeth you have...
My, what big teeth you have…



We move toward a more tropical setting. As my man Flavor Flav once said, “PEACE IN BELIZE!”


Keep an eye out for hidden passages that may appear on first glance to be a pitfall, but actually leads to a plethora of goodness.

Lay off the 'roids, dude
Lay off the ‘roids, dude



The next level sends Ackman on another force-scroller. This time he hits the high seas.


This boss has bombs of his own but no worries. Like the others he’s a push-over.



The next level has sections of water with sharks and other nasties.

She can hug me anytime
She can hug me anytime
OK now...
OK now…

This boss epitomizes the gist of Go Go Ackman. It’s funky and goofy. It doesn’t take itself seriously whatsoever, and that’s all part of the fun.



This level has a pyramid sand theme. Here the game takes on an extra graphical punch, with scrolls that stretch on. It’s pretty amazing in a simple kind of way.


The first mid-boss of this world (boss 6 for those keeping count at home) is ridiculously easy. And off the charts bizarre. But you ain’t seen weird yet. Wait til we get to Go Go Ackman 3

Next you enter a pyramid where new obstacles await, such as…

Big ol' Frankie
Big ol’ Frankie
Boss 7 likes to burrow. A LOT
Boss 7 likes to burrow. A LOT
Flashbacks of Mumm-Ra!
Flashbacks of Mumm-Ra!
Gave me the creeps as a kid
Mumm-Ra scared the shit out of me back in the day

All in all, while the levels and boss battles are short in comparison to others of this genre, Go Go Ackman is a blast while it lasts. More levels await but I’ll let you discover the rest. Now let’s check out the sequel.


The sequel that was meh
The sequel that was meh

Part 2 came out July 21, 1995. I couldn’t get into this. After enjoying, pardon the pun, the hell out of the original, the sequel did disappoint as it felt like a cheap cash-in. It didn’t have the sweet feel or look of the original, and although old faces return (like some of the mid-bosses) the game just never came together for me. It is, however, the hardest of the trilogy by far.

Maybe you’ll like it; in fact, I know some who prefer this out of the three, but I didn’t dig it too much. Not to say it’s a bad game — it just doesn’t compare to the original, in my humble opinion.


Back to basics, baby
Back to basics, baby. Third time’s the charm

Released on December 15, 1995, Go Go Ackman 3 came out only *five* short months after Go Go Ackman 2. Were they cashing in, or making up? Personally, I say the latter.


This is a classic case of “Oh wow, we really messed up the last sequel didn’t we. Let’s make another and get back to basics.” Playing this you really feel like it’s part 1 in terms of spirit. It has some cool level designs like the booby trap-filled prison. New features are thrown in the mix like shops within levels. Heck the game even has a nice prelude battle where you duke it out with your infamous angel rival… and his incompetence offsets the end boss so much that the angel is banished to your side. Thus, in certain levels you play as the angel rather than Ackman. With his propensity for flight it only further enhances the game playing experience. As Borat would say… “NIIICE.”

Here’s a quick glance at some of the happenings.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

The first boss is (again) a return of old faces from the original. You joust with the trio in succession and the time lapse between each is handled brilliantly.

Early evening
Early evening
Mid evening
Mid evening
Late evening. Nice
Late evening. Nice


After you knock these re-tread bozos off their high horses, you have the choice of picking any one of their vehicles. The next section, depending on what you choose, is a shooter or action racer. Pretty dope. Like one of those old “Pick Your Own Adventure Path” books.

The second boss packs a mean punch, and you know I love good ole school boss flashing whenever they take a hit. Go Go Ackman 3 does “boss flashing” fans everywhere justice! Check it out.

No, no RoboCop influence here
No, no RoboCop influence here
Oooh, ahhhh
Oooh, ahhhh

Bear in mind this trilogy can be very off-beat. Look no further than this freakish cut scene.

Mode 7 zooms into his mouth
Mode 7 zooms into his mouth

This would NEVER have been approved for American audiences…

Love the look of this level
Love the look of this level

This next level is one of my favorite in the entire series. I just love the different booby traps and elevator-riding to eventually reach the top floor. The backdrops where you can see far into the background is an EXCELLENT touch.


Ackman is fun to control
Somewhere, Link is smiling

Some folks prefer part 3 to 1 and 2. In my opinion, if you want to try Ackman, go with the original first, and then try part 3. If you only try one game however, my advice is to play the first one. But that’s not to say part 3 isn’t good — it is. I appreciated that they went back to Ackman’s roots for this third and final game. The second got away too much from what worked well in the first game.

Finally, there is a smattering of Japanese dialogue after each level in all 3 games, but it doesn’t affect your ability to progress in any of the games. Though I hear the text is quite amusing for those who can follow it.

I give kudos to Aspect for making this enjoyable, albeit derivative trilogy. The first one is a very solid, fun action platformer. The second was forgettable and the third one ended the trilogy on a good, redemptive note.