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5 Best Dragon Quest Games of All Time, Ranked

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5 Best Dragon Quest Games of All Time, Ranked

With nearly three decades, done and done, it feels like just the perfect time to rank all Dragon Quest games, so far. In total, there are 11 games released as mainline titles. There are also plenty more spin-offs, which we won’t rank for this article. And, there is a surplus in other media forms like movies, novels, anime, and much more. For all their impact since the ‘80s, the Dragon Quest franchise is a force of nature we can’t wait to see more of in future.

So, what’s Dragon Quest all about? Well, it’s a genre-defining JRPG about a Hero embarking on various quests to save the world from untold powerful evil entities. You can do all sorts of fun gaming staples like exploring, building, and battling evil. To help you on your journey are party companions we’ve come to love. As well as the many iterations over the years that have helped keep the franchise fresh as a daisy. So, which mainline games stood out the most? Which ones fell short? Read on to find out the five best Dragon Quest games of all time, ranked. 

5. Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (1992)

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavnly Bride - iOS/Android Trailer

As early as 1992, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride understood what works in an RPG. So they took no second guesses, stretching the game to its limits. We’re talking about choice-based narratives, particularly one that involves character relationship building and their implications. 

The story tells of a young prince whose parents are murdered. He goes into hiding, seeking to avenge his parent's deaths. Along his road to vengeance, he meets a peculiar set of companions with whom the player is free to build relationships however they please. It’s quite fascinating how Hand of the Heavenly Bride explored the idea, especially with the way the player’s choices affect the final ending. 

The only drawback is that there are slight issues with story development. You could get stuck at some points or find there are no difficulty spikes to challenge you. Still, the lack of refinement barely compares to the innovativeness the game displayed at the time. Add in the option to collect monsters, and you have yourself an old-school legend.

4. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (2009)

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) - Teaser Trailer

We all know the story of the fallen angel and his attempts to return to the heavens. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies mimics that premise to introduce a game that dares to tread new ground. Compared to all other Dragon Quest games before it, Sentinels of the Starry Skies features the most character customization, be it class, looks, or abilities. 

Unfortunately, the high leap for customization glory led to less focus on actual character development. Sure, there was more variety to go around than ever before. However, beyond the main character’s story of getting back to the heavens’ good graces, all other party members felt luckluster. Like they were merely plastered on for the sake of completion.

With that said, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies did push the Nintendo DS hardware to its limits. It added online capability and multiplayer action that skyrocketed the game across continental boundaries. Of course, the DS network is shut down, so you may not enjoy the full experience. Hopefully, Sentinels of the Starry Skies makes a comeback sometime soon.

3. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (2004)

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King Launch Trailer

The cursed king needs saving. Actually, his entire kingdom of Trodain does too, as they have succumbed to the curse and now have monstrous bodies. So, as the hero, you once again embark on a quest, accompanied by the cursed king and his daughter, disguised as a troll and a white horse, respectively. 

There are plenty of adventures lying in wait. Quite honestly, one of the few story developments that speak to the greatness of Dragon Quest games. It was the first to fully use three-dimensional designs, which, when coupled with the amazing music and superb voice acting, helped spearhead the Dragon Quest JRPG into the modern era. Surprisingly, the graphics still hold up quite well even today.

2. Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (1990)

Lets Play Dragon Quest IV Chapters of the Chosen - Trailer

Another old-school innovator is Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen. This time, the game breaks itself into four chapters, where each one focusing on a single companion’s journey. It’s an ideal concept, given that you dedicate considerable time to the unique backstories and gameplay of each character.

By the time we meet the hero in the fifth chapter, it’s clear the value each companion brings to the table. When done well, it’s quite grand because of how it feels like you’ve just been in the shoes of five completely different people.

1. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (2017)

DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition - Story Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Next up, players would take on the role of the hero on a quest to save Erdrea from eternal doom. It’s quite a recent title, so many players will likely find the gameplay most accommodating. Particularly because the game marries modern aesthetic appeal with the tried-and-tested traditional gameplay of the classics. 

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age proves that sometimes, sticking to your guns is the way to go. Especially if the recipe has been working for many years past. So, the game went on to infuse a compelling fantasy tale that players will find feels right at home. The characters too are ever so charming and goofy.

Perhaps the only thing would be that the story is more or less similar to past entries. However, the gameplay and enriching open worlds more than makeup for that. So, if you’re looking to start playing Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a great entry point that stays true to Dragon Quest’s DNA.

So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our five best Dragon Quest games of all time, ranked? Are there other games we should know about? Let us know down in the comments or over on our socials here.


Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.