Editor’s note: I dearly loved the first games of the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy franchises. Brian compares the these first efforts, and he finds that one clearly kicks the d20s out of the other. Who wins? Read on to find out — and let Brian know if you agree with his assessment. -Jason.

Role-playing games have existed on consoles for more than two decades now, but sadly, I haven’t seen too many real-life brawls over which multimillion-selling RPG series reigns supreme. To fix this, I’m pitting two RPG titans against each other: Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. The first battle involves only the original NES games of the series, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior.

Neither of these popular RPG franchises can hurl pokéballs at each other while duking it out; instead, they can rely on only the basics, such as “Fight,” “Item,” “Magic,” and “Flee.” This heated competition should leave dice-rollers sweating.


The first part of this brawl is a competition designed to determine which game’s story is superior. We all know that neither tale is equal to the works of Shakespeare, but one is satisfying while the other makes players feel like they’re reading Maxim without the pictures.

The following criteria determine who’s the victor when it comes to telling an epic tale.

Fight No. 1: Storytelling

Which game’s heroes are sponge-worthy?


A) Final Fantasy’s four Light Warriors.

B) Dragon’s Warrior’s descendant of Erdrick.

Erdrick may be able to fight alone, but he can’t be a Monk, a Thief, a Black Mage, a Red Mage, or a White Mage. Final Fantasy is the clear winner.

Which game has a more plausible villain?

Dragon LordChaos

Let’s look at these images. Chaos is a badass god, while the Dragon Lord could pass for Saved by the Bell’s Screech in a Halloween costume. The obvious answer: Final Fantasy.

Which game has more respectable villainous lackeys?

Final Fantasy has four fiends with roots in mythology and pirates, while Dragon Warrior has a green dragon. Sorry, Puff the Magic Dragon fans, but Final Fantasy wins.

Which game’s village people are more interesting than your high school’s head cheerleader?

Dragon Warrior’s village idiots often purposely mislead you, so they’re not much different than people selling fake Oakleys and Rolexes. Final Fantasy’s villagers, on the other hand, are usually vague, but they at least tell you about important items and destinations. Since Final Fantasy explains more than an uncommunicative ex, it’s the clear winner.

Fight No. 2: The Game World

Which game has the best world-map layout?

World map

Dragon Warrior has one huge continent connected by a series of bridges. It lacks air or sea travel, and it’s a pain to get anywhere due to countless random battles. To put it lightly, it’s worse than driving a tractor during rush hour in New Jersey.

Final Fantasy has multiple continents, and certain areas are accessible only by sea and air. For those of us who’ve always wanted to travel through a massive world by air without using United Airlines, Final Fantasy is the clear winner.

Which game’s dungeons are more bearable?

A) Dragon Warrior’s dark caverns that look like they were built by a brick layer.

B) Final Fantasy’s bland caves that vaguely resemble real caverns.

Both game’s dungeons are hideous, but Final Fantasy’s look a bit more realistic. That, and the fact that you don’t have to cast a spell to see, makes Final Fantasy’s dungeons superior.

Which game has the most memorable locations?

Dragon Warrior has Charlock castle and that brief tunnel you travel through to rescue the princess, but Final Fantasy one-ups it with its floating fortress, undersea temple, and Mirage Tower.

Fight No. 3: The Battle System

Which game has fewer hours of tedious grinding?


Final Fantasy has more battles than the average player desires. Dragon Warrior is even worse. If someone says they prefer battling in Dragon Warrior to sex, you know that you should never trust them.

Which game has a better enemy roster?

Final Fantasy has Ogres, Ghouls, legendary sea monsters, and multiarmed serpents. Dragon Warrior features a dragon, dragon lord, Slimes, and bats. Only someone with a Slime fetish would choose Dragon Warrior. Once again, Final Fantasy wins.

Which battle system has more depth?

Final Fantasy allows you to bring four characters, each sporting a different job class, into battle. Dragon Warrior allows you to fight with only one unit, who uses moves like Hurt and Hurtmore. Clearly, Final Fantasy wins.

Fight No. 4: Music

Which game has the superior battle theme?

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After listening to both, I’m confident that any sane person would choose Final Fantasy. Dragon Warrior’s battle theme is more annoying than listening to a telephone operator underwater for 24 hours straight, so that immediately makes it the loser.

Which theme song is a superior piece of music?

This one is a matter of taste, but I prefer Final Fantasy’s theme due to the superior sound quality and composition.

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Which title has the most pleasant world-map theme?

Both world map themes are excellent, so I’m going to call it a tie (even though I prefer Final Fantasy’s).

Overall winner: Final Fantasy

Even though this battle was a first-round knockout, Dragon Warrior was a good sport. It took a vicious beating during four grueling rounds, so it deserves at least an ounce of respect. Will future Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest clashes be a fair fight? Or will the subsequent Dragon Quest titles fall faster than Glass Joe? You’ll have to tune in next time to find out.