The very first Dragon Warrior originated in the 1980's and opened the door for the Dragon Warriors we see today. Unfortunately, during the first few years there weren't many RPGs for the NES, and the only real competition was Squaresoft's Final Fantasy and a few other select titles. Even today Dragon Warrior is still considered to be a classic, and was a pretty good first title for the series.
The gameplay is limited compared to our present RPGs, but nothing could be done due to the technological limitations. Battles occur randomly, but bosses are set in one location, meaning all you have to do is walk into the designated spot and the battle is triggered. All of the battles are turn based, and you choose your attack option through what I like to call the "Master Screen".
In the "Master Screen" you can pick things like Attack, Spells, Items and Run. Outside of battles you use commands like Talk, Search, Take, Items and Stairs (used to travel up or down stairs). When on the world map, all exploring takes place in an overhead view, making it much easier to see your surroundings.
You have to purchase the majority of your weapons at shops. While most gear can be bought, some of the nicer bits of equipment must be found by carefully searching dungeons, fields, etc. Even though it is a very tiring side quest to find the better weaponry, you will find it worth your while.
The Level Up system is based on the traditional RPG style and after defeating each monster you obtain a certain amount of experience depending on the strength of the foe. The highest level you can achieve is 30 (it doesn't sound like much, but believe me, it's a struggle and very time consuming). You learn new spells by reaching the assigned level, which are programmed in the game.
Your save method is called "Imperial Scrolls of Honor", cool name eh? The game also features "ye olde english", over time it progressively gets more annoying. Although, it was a great attempt to bring back that olden day feel which a lot of games lack.
As for the graphics, you can't go in expecting to much since it's on the 8-Bit classic Nintendo system. The level structure and character design is decent for the NES, but really doesn't demonstrate what the system is capable of. When you enter battle it occurs in first person and the monsters are large allowing more detail. I personally feel the best graphics in the game are the monsters and backgrounds. Some of the different monsters featured palette swapping.
Sound effects were pretty lame, and more time was needed in this area. Dragon Warrior only contained a few different sound effects, and the ones they did use got old and weren't very realistic. The music was no better, although it may be more appealing to some. Dear god did the high pitched flute music cause a massive headache. I often found myself turning down the volume. The variety was slim and it got rather boring.
You play as the Descendent of Edrick. A prophecy predicted the coming of a strong warrior who would bring peace to the land. The Dragonlord has hidden the tools to defeat him and unleashed his minions throughout the world. The Dragonlord has also captured King Lorik's daughter, Princess Gwaelin. You must also seek out her location and save her from the creature holding her captive. Which is when you embark on your journey to save both the princess and the land...
Dragon Warrior is pretty much a rescue-the-princess-and-save-the-world kind of thing. None of the characters really grow personality wise and you aren't exactly going to miss the characters when you beat the game.
Overall Dragon Warrior is a good game if you enjoy battling, considering that's just about all you do. I would recommend this game the most to those who are a fan of the series and enjoy a kill-level up-move on game. Dragon Warrior is a great addition to most RPG Fans out there and features hours and hours of battling.