One of the first console RPGs to hit the gaming scene in Japan, Dragon Quest has cemented its legacy in JRPG lore. Though its popularity has ebbed and flowed over the decades, various spin-off titles have been churned out to satiate fans in-between the mainline games. Novels, manga, and anime have also been released, further adding to the lore.
Now, with the advent of one of the best entries in the series to date, DQXI, and its recent Switch port, it seems that DQ-mania is back in full swing.
It would thus seem as good a time as any to travel back to Dragon Quest's colorful fantasy worlds and reexamine these lesser-known spin-offs. In this list, we'll rank each of these games; focusing on those that got a Western release.
13 Fortune Street
One of the most bizarre DQ spin-offs on our list is also pretty much the low point for the series. Taking the form of a shallow blend of Wii Party, Dragon Quest, and Monopoly, this is essentially a virtual board game with some DQ and Mario characters tossed in.
Fortune Street is mildly entertaining in its own right, but given the famed gaming mascots featured and the high expectations of a Nintendo/Square Enix collaboration, the game is a bit of a letdown.
12 Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen And The Tower Of Mirrors
Considering DQ is renowned for its expansive open-world and rich RPG gameplay, an on-rails version of this epic is an odd choice.
This adventure does offer bouts of fun, thanks in part to the intuitive motion controls which translate sword swings fairly accurately. Yet, ultimately, Swords plays more like a virtual interactive roller coaster, minus some of the thrills. The restrictive, grindy gameplay does it no favors, nor does the slim campaign.
11 Dragon Quest Wars
Nintendo's DS line of handhelds certainly has a healthy lineup of Dragon Quest titles. One of the more obscure ones is this release for the short-lived DSiWare, Dragon Quest Wars. It proves to be a pretty solid strategy game with a DQ exterior, but it could have used some stronger online features.
The most significant trait of this game is the touch-screen functionality, which is a helpful way to control your units laid out on the isometric grid. There are also some enjoyable multiplayer features too, assuming your gamer pals actually downloaded this title.
10 Torneko: The Last Hope
Take a spin-off of the DQ games - namely DQIV, as it stars that game's protagonist - and blend it will some tough roguelike gameplay, and you've got Torneko.
This relatively obscure PS1 game might turn some gamers off - even DQ fans - given the unforgiving, random nature of roguelikes. Yet, this adds a refreshing element to the series, bringing a unique, dungeon-crawling dynamic that forces you to plan ahead. The deep gameplay and charming, colorful sprites - which the PS1 is more than capable of - has allowed this to age quite well.
9 Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
Given the DS is seemingly a Dragon Quest breeding ground, why not feature a spin-off to the DQ hack 'n' slash spin-off, Heroes?
The game features a cute, simplistic aesthetic that resembles a coloring book more than a video game, though this meshes with its lighthearted nature. The novelty of actually playing as one of those pesky slime foes is amusing at first, though it tends to wear off pretty quick given its limited offensive moves. Still, the experience is both charming and strangely addictive; a fun little DQ diversion for fans on the DS.
8 Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe And The Blight Below
This Dynasty Warriors twist on the Dragon Quest series is quite a bit simpler than its long title might imply.
Given the plethora of cool baddies and the emphasis on sword slashing, an action-packed hack 'n' slash would seemingly be a natural fit for this franchise. Does it work? Mostly, though you do get the repetition that often comes with this genre.
The combat in this game is pretty repetitive and basic, though it's usually satisfying as you rake in points and combos. The upgrade system is more archaic compared to its more refined successor. The narrative, which involves monsters inexplicably turning against our heroes, is similarly shallow. Still, there's plenty of mindless action to be had during its 25-30 hours campaign.
7 Dragon Quest Heroes II
This sequel builds on the appealing foundation of the first Heroes and amps up the thrills. Additions include new weapon skills, a multiplayer-exclusive mode, and a more interesting conspiratorial plotline.
More dynamic missions, cooler boss fights, and refined combat further round out this slash-fest. This game does a terrific job of balancing thrills and accessibility with more in-depth gameplay.
6 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker
In terms of the Dragon Quest/Warrior Monsters series, this RPG is something of a lukewarm DS debut. While it brings back much of the charm and addictive monster-hunting grind, Joker falls a bit flat given the leap in technology.
The game looks a bit crude, lacks online battles, and only minimally uses the DS touch screen. At the same time, it struggles to recapture some of the magic of its GBC predecessors. Regardless, DS gamers who didn't play the originals will find much to enjoy about this robust RPG.
5 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
Despite its additions, cheeky humor, and prettier cell-shaded graphics, the GBC iterations of Dragon Quest/Warrior Monsters still shine as the superior games. It feels as if the nuance and charm of this series took a bit of a hit in favor of aesthetics.
Still, this spruced-up sequel to Joker serves to satiate the cravings of both Dragon Quest and Pokémon fans on DS. Venturing across the rich landscapes and "synthesizing" tons of colorful monsters makes for an enduring RPG experience. This time, you're even able to connect to the internet and battle your monsters in tournaments.
4 Dragon Quest Builders
We've had a hybrid of Pokémon and Dragon Quest - so why not a fusion of DQ and a similarly huge hit, Minecraft? Yes, Builders even uses a similar blocky aesthetic for its interactable environments.
Though the sequel refines and fleshes certain aspects of the gameplay, this original breakthrough is an enjoyable action role-playing sim. It nicely balances RPG-style grinding and adventuring with building and mining. It even contains rewarding Terraria-esque town building and management. It's an innovative, versatile experience that should appeal to many.
3 Dragon Quest Builders 2
Serving as supplemental content to PS4 players, and a bridge to tide Switch fans awaiting their DQXI port, DQ Builders 2 offers more of the same charm of Builders 1 and then some. Being as complex as it is, Builders 2's interface can be a touch convoluted, especially if you didn't get your feet wet with the first entry. Once you get the hang of it though, it's a terrific experience.
This sequel builds further on the depth of its predecessor, featuring underwater exploration, a 1st-person view, and 4-person online multiplayer.
2 Dragon Warrior Monsters
Despite its resemblance to Pokémon, this monster-hunting RPG broke new ground with a huge palette of crazy monsters and a neat breeding mechanic. This feature allowed you to birth new monsters, often increasing their strength and rarity. You could even create powerful bosses from prior Dragon Quest games, which could be used to steamroll baddies. This mechanic's depth is quite impressive, as you can assign a whopping 8 skills for each monster.
Game Freak would actually go on to implement various elements similar to Dragon Warrior Monsters. Pokémon Gold & Silver would feature breeding, and Yellow had a visible Pikachu follow you around like your trio of monsters do here.
1 Dragon Warrior Monsters 2
As far as RPGs on the primitive GBC go - Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 is about as epic and lavish as they come.
In another comparison to Pokémon games, this title comes in two forms, Tara and Cobi, which are nearly identical. The key difference is a variance in some of the monsters that can be caught. This game is chock-full of content, imaginative worlds, more monsters (including a new water type), and more breeding combinations.
There's also a bizarre premise involving a Warubou keeping the lands afloat by plugging a hole with his body - further ensuring a memorable experience...