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About the Story
"Nintendo power magazine was put together by Nintendo of America as a marketing tool to sell games for their Nintendo entertainment system and to get kids attached to the Nintendo brand. In 1990, they had the task of getting their young audience interested in a game called Dragon Warrior that was heavily inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Deliberately obscure in many ways and full of pretty obtuse systems, this was probably a hard game to get a handle on if you hadn’t seen anything like it before. So how did Nintendo Power market this weird game? They drew upon the game’s mediated storytelling history – and made a choose your own adventure. The DRAGON WARRIOR TEXT ADVENTURE ran as a four-page feature in the March / April issue of 1990.
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This is a great adaptation, and very accurate.
However, it isn't properly much of a game: while the in-game text at the end talks about the "strategy" involved, the reality is you mostly randomly click things until the game makes you do the right thing. There is no contextual hint or clue about the world around you until you accidentally stumble on a town that tells you to go East. (Of course, the game also forbids you click any other direction!)
There really isn't much choice inherent in this game, except terrible choice that results in death or randomly clicking more directional indicators. I remember this game, and I enjoyed the nostalgia effect of finding this adaptation.
It is very short, so you should try it if you are curious, but I wouldn't really recommend it to people who didn't already remember Dragon Warrior and enjoy it. (I can still remember the geography of the game!)
Thanks, Anna, for transcribing this! I remember it fondly.
My first ever choose your own adventure game—"The Quest of Madness," four sheets of paper with numbered boxes of handwritten text and line drawings made when I was in the seventh grade—was inspired solely by this. (It was also the same year I discovered the awesome Lone Wolf series of game books, but I saw this first.) Now, more than 20 years later, I'm still playing and writing interactive fiction. Pretty big influence on me.
Unless it's for nostalgic reasons, or if you're not a child of the 80's and early 90's, there's really no reason to play this. I gave the game five stars out of love, but it's really a two-star game at best. Perhaps only one to be brutally honest.
When this was released, the video game market wasn't well understood. The fires of the North American video game crash of 1983 were still smoldering if not raging in some aspects. Thankfully, Nintendo came along and picked up the pieces of the apocalypse Atari wrought upon the land. Atari giveth, and Atari taketh away; Nintendo gave it back. Nintendo thought Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest) would do well in the American market. After all, it was very popular in Japan. They were taken aback when it met a lukewarm (at best) reception here. They had to give the game away for free with subscription to "Nintendo Power," its house organ magazine. That's how I got my copy. They weren't the only ones who were wrong; as a child, I thought other kids would like the game as much as I did and couldn't understand when most my friends hated it.
Perhaps Nintendo thought Dragon Warrior was unpopular because American children (and their inferior intellect, those stupid cowboys) couldn't understand the game. So, they made things like this, "The Dragon Warrior Text Adventure." They broke it down to its most basic, simple form. Of course, the reason why American children didn't like Dragon Warrior was because it was just plain boring as hell to all but a small niche group. Tastes differ. Some people like action games. Others like RPG's. Only the very most extreme hardcore RPG lover would dig Dragon Warrior. There just weren't enough in that target group to warrant it being marketed here. Besides, WE had Dungeons & Dragons, the real thing! Why would we want a D&D simulator—pale in contrast and vastly inferior to the genuine table-top experience?
This was a fantastic trip down memory lane. Thanks again, Anna, for giving me the opportunity to re-live my childhood love for this little adventure.
For what it is, this game it actually quite nice. If you like the Nes game and love the year 1990 then give it a try.
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