Grab your sword and find a wizard; it’s time to check out the best Dragon Quest games of all time!
For those not in the know, Dragon Quest is considered one of the best RPG series of all time. It’s the most famous video game franchise in Japan and one of the most widely ported adventures ever made. It caused mass truancy, won over millions of hearts, and pioneered the RPG genre as we know it.
In other words; sit up and pay attention because this franchise deserves your respect!
Spanning thirty glorious years and beating the magnificent Final Fantasy in popularity and sales, the series is famous for not getting bogged down in boring back-lore or overcomplicated elements. It’s a true RPG in every sense of the word and one that we’ve loved for years now.
But the question remains; which are the best titles in the series?
Here’s our list of the 10 best Dragon Quest games of all time for you to check out. Whether starting with your first game or reliving the series, it’s a great guide for getting into the groove with one of the most immersive adventure series ever made!
10. Dragon Quest I (1986)
We’re kicking off this list of the best Dragon Quest games with Dragon Quest I, the title that started it all way back in 1986. Nintendo grabbed it for the Famicom in 1989, and the series has gone from strength to strength ever since.
If you’re looking for the grandfather of all RPG games, then you just found it. Yuji Horii’s masterpiece might be a little tedious to play through now because it’s getting on a little bit, but without this 8-bit legend, the RPG genre as we know it might not exist.
The artwork came from the guy who made Dragon Ball, for crying out loud. It was always going to be a winner!
Players take a band of heroes on a quest to save a princess from a Dragon.
They literally go on a Dragon Quest…
Like every RPG and the subsequent titles in this list, collecting items and upgrading character’s skillsets is a key factor to the gameplay. By completing extra tasks, players can beef up their heroes and worry less about taking on damage.
2 million copies of the first Dragon Quest game sold in Japan, making it a huge success for the late 80s. It spawned multiple epic games, 9 of which are in the list below.
9. Dragon Quest Heroes II (2016)
Sometimes sequels can be a little bit dissapointing, but Dragon Quest Heroes II takes everything that we loved from the first Dragon Quest Heroes title and builds upon it. It’s a cracking game and one that looks unbelievably stunning on the PS4.
One of the biggest and best features of the series has to be the ability to recruit monsters into your party. Ok, that and the Kirby-esque move-stealing ability that gamers can use to steal monster’s moves while fighting.
Like Breath of the Wild, the main protagonist can use all manner of different weapons and eventually become a master with any of them. And, true to every great Dragon Quest title, the amount of interesting PCs and NPCs there are to converse with is staggering!
The Time Space Labyrinth multi-player mode was one of my favourite features in this game too. It’s one for the nerds and only attainable by being a collecting guru, so keep your eyes peeled and search everywhere for those secret map pieces.
8. Dragon Quest II: Luminaries Of The Legendary Line (1987)
Dragon Quest II: Luminaries Of The Legendary Line takes the 8th spot in this list of the best Dragon Quest games of all time! It should also be noted at this point that it’s one of the toughest RPGs ever made too.
We’re not just talking hard; we talking as tough as that jar of olives in your fridge that you have to bang on the floor to open. That level of mind-melting difficulty…
While the first Dragon Quest game set a precedent for RPGs and kickstarted a wizarding movement feistier than Harry Potter’s stag do, the sequel polished the formula and made everything 10-times-better.
And, as I’ve said, 10-times-harder.
Set 100 years after the first game and released one year after it in real life (get your head around that one!), the story follows a Prince on an epic quest to save his kingdom.
The game looks, plays, and feels like the first title, but the addition of extra party characters, more than one save spot, and lots more areas to delve into make it superior in every way.
Listen, it’s hardly going to win awards for the best Dungeons and Dragons-style campaign story or be used as a religious text for a new gaming cult, but it’s a great story and much easier to play than the first entry in the series.
It had open world elements way before open world was a thing, which means its a winner. ‘Nuff said.
7. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments Of A Forgotten Past (2000)
With a whopping 4.6 million sales under its belt, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments Of A Forgotten Past takes the 7th spot in this list of the best Dragon Quest games ever made.
Here’s a fact bomb for you; it’s the best selling PS1 game to have graced Japanese gaming shops!
Despite that amazing accolade that I’m now going to brush over, we’re taking a look at the 3DS remake today as it’s so much fun to play on the go.
And, with close to 100 hours of gameplay for the fans that love to complete games to 101%, you’ll have to schedule in an around-the-world trip to complete it all in one go.
Most of the pictures in this list so far show a party of heroes on the move, but that’s what’s so great about these games. Rather than being repetitive, it makes each game feel familiar and let’s the storyline take centre stage rather than messing around with new gameplay formulas.
Still, Square have implemented Time Travel into this one just to make sure you’re not too relaxed while playing.
As you might have guessed from the gameplay hours estimate, this game is ‘mahooosive’. And, if you really get into the character customisation groove, then that game hour total could increase drastically!
Explore Estard, travelling to the past through mysterious ruins while banishing evil villains. It’s tried and tested, and we love it.
6. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels Of The Starry Skies (2009)
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels Of The Starry Skies takes the 6th spot in this list of the best Dragon Quest games of all time and continues our handheld gaming theme.
The Nintendo DS has some epic Dragon Quest games (you’re about to see two more of them too), but fans were initially worried about how the games might hold up going from the PS2 to Nintendo’s dual-screen demon.
They needen’t have worried; this game looks spectacular on the DS and plays like a dream.
Using cel-shaded graphics akin to the Legend of Zelda DS games, this RPG mixes things up a little. It concentrates more on NPC interaction rather than the main character completing a specific quest.
You’re basically a handyman with a sword sorting other peoples beef out, like a game with a never-ending amount of side quests. Still, the individual character stories are all intriguing and immersive, creating an RPG that is truly like no other while being a bonafide D.Q game at the same time…
… if that makes sense…
5. Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Of The Chosen (1990)
Contraversially, I’m going for the DS version of Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Of The Chosen rather than the NES version. The NES game was great and I know the DS doesn’t have the party conversation feature, but it’s the one I played to death and I know it the best.
My list, my rules, capish?
I’m a big fan of stories that follow multiple characters that work together. It’s why I loved the different Sages in Ocarina of Time and the two intertwining storylines in Resident Evil 2. Chapters of the Chosen is made up of four chapters, each one following one of the chosen…
… though you may well have guessed that already.
Just check out how crisp that looks on the DS. The dual-screens really come into their own here; it almost looks like a piece of art!
Each chapter follows a different character as they develop skills and grow as warriors. Rather than the other members of the party just running along aimlessly behind the hero, Chapters of the Chosen gives players a chance to get to grips with each member, giving gamers four main heroes for the price of one.
If you don’t fancy playing this game on the NES or the DS, then there’s an ace mobile version that really does the series justice too!
4. Dragon Quest V: Hand Of The Heavenly Bride (1992)
Imagine following a game that sees the main character from from a baby into a man, a truly engaging story that draws you in from the very first moment. That’s Dragon Quest V: Hand Of The Heavenly Bride alright, and it’s up next in the best Dragon Quest games of all time!
That’s right; players take the hero through childhood to manhood, experiencing all of the highs and lows of a boy-turned-family man that slays monsters for a living.
Remember the monsters joining the party dynamic we spoke about back up at Number 9? Well, that feature first came about in this very game. It spawned the Dragon Quest Monsters franchise and may well have helped developed other famous monster collecting games…
… I’m not naming any names for fear of a major backlash…
Let’s get back to this character development dynamic. Like the film Boyhood that follows the main character over the actors actual life, the game is split into different pivotal parts. You pick your own wife and eventually have kids.
It’s a real family affair, as the whole family eventually heads off to save the world together!
This is one of the greatest plots of any game I’ve ever played. You can’t help but feel drawn into the character’s life. Imagine Harvest Moon and the Sims combined with an epic adventure where the world is at stake…
… see, I knew that would grab your attention!
3. Dragon Quest III: The Seeds Of Salvation (1988)
We’re down to the final three titles in this list of the best Dragon Quest games of all time, and I’m going old-school with Dragon Quest III: The Seeds Of Salvation.
WindWaker might be my favourite ship-sailing game, but exploring the massive map via the water in D.Q III makes for fantastic gameplay. It’s one of those games that you’ll end up thinking about every moment of every day!
With the bad points ironed out in D.Q I and II, the third title ends the first trilogy in style. The lands are richly textured and vibrant, the character recruitment system shows the developers had their craft honed to a T, and the banking system made loads of kids want to save their money for more Dragon Quest games!
D.Q III added a 24-hour cycle into the series, bringing night and day to the canon for the very first time. Ok; you’re thinking ‘so what?’, but it’s ideas like this that shaped how many of our favourite games work today!
As with the first two D.Q games, our hero must save the world with a party of skilled companions. NPC interaction is key as players move ever closer to the antagonist’s evil lair for a final showdown.
This game sold a whopping 1.1 million units in just one day! It’s still synonymous with the biggest case of truancy arrests in Japan as kids bunked off school to play it. Talk about a serious case of Dragon Quest fever
2. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey Of The Cursed King (2004)
The PS2 classic, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey Of The Cursed King, takes the silver medal in our list of the best Dragon Quest games of all time.
It may have used the Final Fantasy XII demo to try and boost sales, but it would have been an absolute belter without it. If you want a title that shows off the PS2 working at full-pelt, then this is it.
Seriously, it looks and plays like a PS3 title on a machine that shouldn’t be able to make games look this good!
Let’s talk about some of the firsts that are associated with this game. For starters, it’s the first 3D Dragon Quest title to grace our screens. It’s one of the first games that Western gamers got their grubby mitts on and also the first title to boast voice acting.
Ok, so we know it’s a pretty big deal so far!
It’s as though the Square Enix merger supercharged the formula to 11 and brought one of the most definitive games in the series to the table. The map, the hidden items, the characters; everything about this game sticks in my mind as though I played it yesterday for the first time.
That’s the mark of a great game, and I urge you to give this one a try on the PS2 or 3DS. Your pick; I won’t judge.
1. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age S Definitive Edition (2019)
Now, this choice might surprise people, but I truly believe that Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age S Definitive Edition is the best Dragon Quest game of all time.
Think about it; Breath of the Wild is the newest Zelda game, and that opened up the world of Zelda to a whole new audience. The same goes for the Spyro Reignited Trilogy too.
Echoes of an Elusive Age draws new gamers into this fantastic franchise. Plus, it’s also one of the best looking adventure RPGs that I’ve ever had the privilege of playing.
Some games either have great graphics or spectacular storyline. D.Q XI has both. The world is massive and choc-a-bloc with fantasy feels, and the characters are all perfectly created.
The ‘save the world’ end goal doesn’t feel boring or old in this game either. It’s still a Dragon Quest game deep down, but it manages to subtly incorporate modern mechanics that might not have featured in an RPG five or ten years ago.
You’ll be drawn in by the graphics and will stay for the epic combat and customisation features. Heck, you’ll probably just spend all your time riding around on creatures like I do and wandering around aimlessly looking for bad guys to smite!
Check out our best best PSP RPGs for more role-playing madness!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.