Note: These are my favorite games from among my favorite game series. Major Spoilers for all series mentioned.
Phenomenal indicates it is among my favorite games of all-time in no particular order. This title is for games I absolutely loved.
Great Games indicates that the game would have been among my favorites, but was just missing one small thing that prevented it from being one of my favorites of all-time. I adore them and highly recommend them, but there was just this one small aspect that prevented me from making it an all-time favorite.
Average is self-explanatory. They aren’t bad games by any stretch, but I didn’t really find them charming and they definitely never came close to the games ranked above them.
Below Average is for games that I found severely underwhelming and was totally disappointed by. They’re still good games, but I don’t find anything positive about them or what little I find positive is overwhelmed by all the negatives. They’re either boring or terrible to me.
Garbage is for games that I absolutely hated. Either due to its poor technical aspects that ruined any enjoyment, or because the story was complete trash, or an amalgamation of both. That being said, game developers sometimes have to take risks to prevent their series from becoming stale. Sometimes, they want to try a radical new idea that they think will work great, but doesn’t have they impact they desired. Or perhaps, they missed the mark because they wanted to reinvent their game with a new concept for a new iteration.
I’ll add commentaries for each series and explain my reasoning in brief. This’ll likely be a self-updating blog post over however many years it takes for a new game to grapple my heart and bewitch me. I don’t expect anyone to really be interested in this one as it is obviously just my personal tastes being shared about subjective content.
Dragon Quest Series:
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DS)
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PC)
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2), Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (DS), Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky (DS).
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelations (DS)
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (PS1), Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (DS), Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker (DS)
Of the Dragon Quest games that I’ve played, I’ve found the series to be largely phenomenal. I use to be concerned by arguments from people that Dragon Quest was somehow the same story in every game with no real changes in gameplay and plot, and I honestly have to wonder what the hell people were talking about. I had presumed these people had played the games, but over time I realized most didn’t even bother to look beyond the artwork by wrongfully accusing Akira Toriyama of plagiarizing himself. Also, I no longer understand how people can say the plots are all the same or generic. Dragon Quest V’s plot and events are far, far different from any other Dragon Quest. However, I do think that apart from Dragon Quest IV and Dragon Quest IX, the main villains don’t really have character development and motivations outside of some selfish desires or simply the desire to bring darkness to the world. Despite how much the player hates the leading antagonist of Ladja from Dragon Quest V, his motivations are simply serving his dark God, Nimzo.
Dragon Quest XI was a surprisingly good step away from that with the villainous motivations. Each of them fit the theme of the game, where the Light was used to signify working on improving from your personal failings to grow to be a better person, whilst darkness was allowing your personal insecurities to override your better judgment and to seek vengeance upon others due to an inability to deal with that pain. I found both Dragon Quest V and XI show that a silent protagonist can be depicted rather wonderfully in terms of motivations. Dragon Quest V more so, since DQXI falls back on the “But Thou Must!” trope to subtly hint at a particular plot point in its story.
As for the games listed as Garbage, I tried to get into Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, but it was a horrible game that is completely obsolete compared to both Pokemon and Shin Megami Tensei. Rocket Slime, at least the first one that I played, is just a bad game and not very fun. As for Dragon Quest VII, I’m basing my ranking on the PS1 version that I played. I beat the main game in 123 hours and I just couldn’t bother forcing myself to do anymore. I really tried liking the game, but the plot makes no sense and completely falls apart by the end because of Melvin (the Hero) having random psychic and fire powers just to keep the story going after a major plot twist in the late period of the game. Unlike other casts of characters, none of Dragon Quest VII’s characters were interesting. Which is a huge surprise to me. For example, even without the party chat, Dragon Quest IV’s cast had a charm to them. Dragon Quest V’s cast is phenomenal. Dragon Quest 8’s was very good and endearing, while at least 4 of the cast members of Dragon Quest XI had great development throughout the story. But Dragon Quest VII seemed to gimp the development in favor of exploration and the exploration honestly felt like a giant chore in which I had to redo the same area twice; first the past, and then the present just for shard collections to get to the next point of the game.
However, I understand that Dragon Quest VII was an attempt to do something radically new, both with the upgraded job system of Dragon Quest VI and the massive story that expands throughout every single continent in a somewhat more episodic fashion. Dragon Quest IX attempted to be radically different too, but with more success. Both 7 and 9 seem to be the hit – or – miss games for fans. I can absolute appreciate that the developers wanted to try something truly new and unique for the series. I don’t recall puzzles and shard collections being utilized either before or after Dragon Quest VII. Despite it’s 2D pixels and old-school as fuck gameplay, Dragon Quest VII still stands out rather uniquely compared to Dragon Quest VIII which seems to have had its amazing graphics and gameplay wholly outdone by Dragon Quest XI. The gameplay isn’t entirely the same, but Dragon Quest XI certainly feels like a more upgraded advancement of Dragon Quest VIII’s system to me. To be fair, the overarching plot of Dragon Quest VIII still feels more unique and interesting as it’s premise and events. It felt as if you beat one game and started another during the major plot twist in the middle of DQ8’s plot. However, Dragon Quest XI’s characters and the presentation of its cookie-cutter plot is still done better and feels like a more complete journey. For me, the gameplay in Dragon Quest XI was the most fun of any Dragon Quest as the special attacks felt like they meant something significant and the double and triple tech attacks were amazing.