Dragon Quest vs. Dragon Warrior


In the early years, localizations of Japanese games to North America would undergo many changes – story, graphics, the removal of violent scenes and sexually charged events as well as the modification of the packaging to remove any and all traces of its original Japanese culture. Fortunately, much less of this ‘translation’ is happening, but it does still persist. So were these changes worth it? Join Alena, Cristo and the DQ IV party as they comment on the ultimate video game competition – Dragon Quest (Japan) versus Dragon Warrior (English) to answer this question.

Introducing first, in the blue corner weighing in at 8-bit, ‘The Fantasy Killer’ – Draaaagon Quuuuest! And his opponent, in the red corner, weighing in at a comparable 8-bit, ‘The Ultimate Warrior’ – Dragonnnnnn Warriorrrrr!



cristoico Well what about the story? Any differences there?
alenaicoWell Erdrick was called Loto and the Princess was called Lora in Japan, but the story was essentially the same.
 Lora in Japan!? Why was it Gwaeilenaliwano…whatever in English?
alenaicoAnyway.. Other than a few name changes, the differences were mostly cultural…
cristoicoYou mean more swearing and sex?
alenaicoUgh… King Lorik is such a bore
cristoicoI have to look away! The terrible graphics are making me queasy!
cristoicoHmm.. In DQ, we need to select in which direction to talk.
alenaicoLuckily for North Americans, this ‘feature’ was fixed. An early lead for DW!
cristoicoNo way! It used a password instead of a battery to save your quest?
breyicoBatteries! Hmmph
Cristo cast Sleepmost! Brey fell asleep.
alenaicoNotice the lack of detail in the villagers faces? Kinda like the people at the Gap, huh?
cristoico_nofaceMy….. No! Dear God no… My face! Help me!
alenaico“She sells sea shells by the sea shore”. Notice the shoreline or lack of?
cristoico_noface Why aren’t you helping me!?!?!?!
cristoicoTake a guess what direction I am moving in?
alenaicoOh.. I don’t care… Down
cristoicoNope, guess again!
cristoicoUm.. ok.. Actually, I am moving east. Regardless of the direction i walk in, DQ shows the same graphic! Another DW improvement over DQ
alenaicoHere is our hero all decked out in his new equipment. I like the way the graphic changes depending on what equip is being used.
cristoicoHa! The lame DQ pallet-swapped version of me has no shield! En Garde!

Dragon Warrior

alenaicoDQ really wasn’t finished until the North American version.
cristoicoThis was a very 1 sided fight. The graphics and menu navigation were critical areas that DQ couldn’t compete in.
alenaicoAre you going to fix him?
Cristo flees.

vs2_dqtitscr vs. vs2_dwtitscr


ragnaricoAnd now Dragon Quest II competes against Dragon Warrior II. Can the champ hold his ground?
cristoicoHey! That’s my line! Ragnar, Quick! There are some underprivileged children that need you in Endor!
ragnaricoOh dear! Thanks Cristo! I’m on my way!
alenaicoNow that boring old Ragnar is gone, let’s get this match underway!
cristoicoLook out!!! That guard is in trouble!!!! Help him oh wise king!
alenaicoThe intro featured in the North American NES version (and Game Boy remake) did not exist in the early MSX and Famicom versions of DQ II

alenaicoIt appears Enix of America didn’t update the character graphics as they did in part one. The faceless characters from DQ are back and are thirsty for blood even in the English version!

Cristo used the Invisibility herb

cristo_ico_invisibleRound 2 you faceless monsters! ! Come and get me – IF you can find me!


cristo_ico_invisibleIt looks as though they fixed the talk feature so you no longer need to select the direction to speak in..

The invisibility herb has lost its effect

alenaicoBoth versions of DQ remove the need for the STAIRS command as well.
cristoicoIt’s a good thing, they couldn’t STARE without a face! Hahahaha!

cristoicoI think I’ve lost my faith…

alenaicoConvert. The rest of the villagers had to… All crosses were replaced with stars when the game was localized

cristoicoYou forgot what I did for a living didn’t you?

alenaicoYou serve me?

Cristo cast beat. Alena did not die!

ragnaricoHey Cristo! I went to Endor and all I saw was Mara spending money at the Casino. Where are the kids?!
Cristo cast Limbo.
Ragnar went flying high in the sky!
alenaicoWas that Ragnar? … Anyway, it seems DQ II also used the password feature and was replaced with a battery in the North American version…
breyicoBack in my day all the Dragon Quest games on the MSX and Famicom had passwords.

maraicoMy Turn! Starting with Dragon Quest II subtitles were added for each game. These subtitles were not included in the English versions.

naraicoThere you are! What did you do with all my money!?
maraicoI’m busy explaining the DQ subtitles like the subtitles for part IV : Mara the sexy dancer and associates
maraicoFine… Dragon Quest IV – Mara the sexy dancer, Nara the slower and fatter sister. Tee-hee.
alenaicoGet out! Out! Out!

Dragon Warrior II

alenaicoThis looks like a big jump for DQ, the graphics were heavily updated and the stairs and talk commands were completely overhauled. Nice work by Enix of Japan!

cristoicoAlthough DQ II was drastically updated it was still improved upon by the English version’s introduction.
breyico I voted for Dragon Quest II on the MSX so I could take a peek at that little hottie princess in her swimsuit

vs3_dqtitscrvs. vs3_dwtitscr

hero_male_icoDQ III was quite an amazing game – It introduced a 4 team battle, character classes, gender choice and the ability to name all of your characters.

alenaico Sorry I’m late. Cristo couldn’t find his shoe…


hero_female_icoUm… ok…. Anyway, DQ III was the first DQ to have been developped for the Famicom rather than the MSX, and so the password feature was removed and replaced with a battery backup.


naraicoThe intro where Ortega battles the dragon was not in the DQ version. Again the North American version added in a new intro.

cristoicoWait for me! I’m ready!

cristoicoHey, Alena, – aren’t you supposed to be a girl?
alenaicoHey! My character IS female. Stupid male-dominated world…
cristoicoI can’t believe I liked you…

cristoicoA vampire! Where the heck is my Holy Water!?

alenaicoNope, just the casket. The North American version was toned down and the caskets became ghosts like they did in part II.

cristoicoTone it down for Americans!? We’re talking about the same “Americans” right?

alenaico*Nods* Yup, North Americans.


maraicoThat’s odd, I actually had to select who’s item I wanted in the Japanese version even though I’m the only one there… The DW version automatically selected it for me. What an odd minor change…
naraicoI also noticed that in the DQ version the item screen is only as long as it is filled, where the DW version always extends to its full length. Interesting…
alenaicoWhat else was censored?
cristoicoThe original faith of the church and some deviant sexual acts were censored.
maraicoI can see why they banned the church but why the sex?
alenaicoAnyway….. A running gag in Dragon Quest are the *Puff-Puff* rooms where the hero pays a girl for sexual behaviour.
cristoicoI thought *Puff-Puff* was a Pokémon! Aw crud! My mom is gonna freak when she sees my Christmas list!!!

Dragon Warrior III

alenaicoThis one was close. I mean I was sweating! I think I’m gonna take a cold shower when I get home!


breyicoGet a room…

dq4_title vs. dw4_title

ragnaricoDQ IV marks the end of the original NES / Famicom saga. After this translation Dragon Quest would remainin Japan exclusively until the release of Dragon Warrior Monsters years later
hero_male_icoDQ IV seems to have undergone the least amount of changes, and these changes started in previous installments

alenaicoWhere did those 2 come from?

taloonicoHmm… The chapter introductions looked more expensive in Japan. I wonder how much that cost?

alenaico What? Now you’re here too? What did we do to deserve this?


alenaicoIn every DW version on the NES, Enix of America needed to expand the text boxes to allow for more characters.

cristoico Ahem! I think you spelled my name wrong, princess…

alenaico No I didn’t.


maraico “Loosing my religion… trying to keep a view…”

breyico Stick to dancing…

alenaicoThe Japanese culture hadn’t infiltrated the North American culture yet. Anime  wasn’t accepted yet, so the artwork was ‘translated’ for North Americans as well.
cristoico I think I’m gonna be sick…
ragnarico They “Translated” me into a different race…
breyico Burai? Sounds like a horse…
maraico “I’m too sexy for Milan, New York and Japan…”
hero_male_icoWhen Enix re-released DQ IV they planned on releasing it in North America as well, in fact there was an ad on the manual of DW VII that announced it as Dragon Warrior IV
alenaicoUm… so what changed from DQ IV to DW IV PSX?

hero_male_icoThey translated DQ IV into vapor… Although, when it was released on the DS years later though they decid….

cristoico Yea! They removed the ‘talk to your party feature’ from the Japanese DS version when it was localized.

hero_male_icoHmm…. Is he always this rude?

alenaico Yea.


Dragon Quest IV

cristoicoDragon Quest IV has some serious advantages: The fact it exists on the Playstation is nice, not to mention the intra-party talk feature.
alenaico Yea, but Dragon Warrior IV downplayed any romance between us that existed in DQ IV
cristoico Hey!
ragnarico What about the artwork? The DW artwork made my physically ill.
cristoico That explains the colour of your skin in the English version
ragnarico  …

cristoico In a world, where video games and culture combine to form ultimate warriors, one shall stand and the rest shall fall. In our final round, the North American Dragon Quest VIII will battle with both the European and Japanese Dragon Quest in an exciting threesome!
alenaico Eeew…
alenaicoDQ VIII was the first of the main series to be released in North America under the name ‘Dragon Quest’ instead of ‘Dragon Warrior’.
cristoicoIt’s like they didn’t even care about the ‘DQ vs. DW’ section of the castle. DQ vs. DQ, sounds a little schizophrenic…

alenaico Dragon Quest VIII was also the first of the main series DQ to be released in Europe.

cristoicoSo… part VIII is part I? Wait… I’m confused.

alenaico Dragon Quest VIII was released as ‘Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King”, with no number VIII. When the Dragon Quest DS remakes were released in Europe, they too dropped the ‘IV’ and ‘V’.

breyico Great another ‘Final Fantasy IV’ vs. ‘Final Fantasy II’ scenario, that wasn’t complicated at all…

naraicoDQ VIII was an amazing game, but when it was first released, it was released with some controversy over some of its changes with DQ purists.
ragnarico Yea, like when Angelina stole Brad away from Jennifer… we were all upset…
naraico Um… sure…
maraico For starters, the menu system was ‘re-vamped’ for the North American and European releases, but remained ‘traditional’ for DQ VIII Japan.

naraico This new interface was a little slower to load and was mostly cosmetic. The method of navigation was still menu driven as it has always been, but with a new background, profile images and items icons.


ragnarico The menu changes also made their way to the battle engine.

naraico North Americans are spoiled! Everything has to be pretty and ‘just-so’.

cristoico Ha! Sounds like Alena!

cristoico Wow… Jessica sounds sexy with her English accent.
alenaico The voice acting was created in England and was only released in the North American and European versions, the Japanese version had no voice acting at all.
cristoico Cor-Blimey!
alenaicoThere was little censorship in this incarnation of Dragon Quest. Even “puff-puff” (pafu-pafu) made it’s way overseas without being heavily modified!
cristoicoThe religious symbols that would normally change from Japanese (Christian Cross) to North American releases (Star of David) were also replaced by a universal symbol of the religion of the game. Coffins would also show up in all versions of the game instead of being replaced with ghosts.
alenaico Although the story didn’t change, the North American release included some enhanced animations, music as well as new spells and attacks, not seen in the Japanese versions.

Dragon Quest VIII: All Regions!

alenaico So… What do you think? Who wins?
cristoicoDragon Quest VIII (English) included voice acting and at least they tried to do something new with the menu.
naraico My vote is for the European version; it’s about time a DQ made it to Europe!
ragnarico I only bought the North American DQ VIII so I could play the Final Fantasy demo

taloonico I like the menu changes in the North American version.

breyico Bah! The new menu was clunky and unnecessary, DQ Japan it is!

alenaico A tie?

cristoico Tie? That’s never happened before! I’m scared!Cristo Flees.

1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Knock-Off Nerd and commented:
    A blast from the past, when I owned and operated the Dragon Quest castle I took some time to comment on the differences between the Japanese and North American versions of the game. I recently dug up the article and thought it would be a perfect fit for rewind 20 . Keep in mind this was written a long time ago…


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