1. The Fun:
That's correct. My favorite part of these games is that they are entertaining. I rarely get stressed out while playing a Dragon Quest game (the exception being DQ2 and, specifically, that battle with Malroth, which I'll never forget).
I usually play these games in the evenings, after the kids have gone to bed and I'm winding down for the day. Dragon Quest has been a great way to unwind after a long day, and it's a lot cheaper than therapy or alcoholism. Many of these games I've played on my phone or on my Nintendo 2DS for an hour or two (or five) before bed.
It's not that they aren't exciting; they most emphatically are. It's just that something about these games always feels soothing. Perhaps it's the familiarity and humor, or perhaps it's the relaxed atmosphere they all seem to have. Even when the world is coming to an end, Dragon Quest maintains its fun sense of adventure and upbeat spirit.
2. The Characters:
I always enjoy discovering interesting characters in video games. Characters I've admired include Vivi from Final Fantasy IX, Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us, and Roland from Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom. They seemed genuine to me. They were like old friends. I was genuinely concerned about what happened to them. Dragon Quest is full of memorable characters.
My favorite is undoubtedly Sylvando from Dragon Quest XI, but I've enjoyed almost every playable character in these games (I still despise Maribel's personality in DQ7, despite the fact that she makes an excellent Sage and Druid). Yes, the early entries lacked characters, but the ones that do are mostly amusing and thoroughly enjoyable. If I ever get around to compiling a list of my favorite DQ characters, it’s gonna be hard to rank them. Spoiler: Sylvando is #1.
3. The Weirdness:
Dragon Quest is strange. In the best possible way, I mean that. I'm a sucker for unusual things. It's the highest compliment I can give to call something or someone strange. My wife is weird (she once acted like a goblin for an entire day in college because I thought it was hilarious), and my best friend is weird (he is, after all, a grown man who paid a lot of money to un-ironically have a rainbow unicorn cake for his thirty-sixth birthday), and my favorite game series is Dragon Quest because it's (drumroll) weird. You can tell it's strange if you read the sections about enemies, towns, and people.
4. The Casinos:
I usually despise casinos and gambling mini-games. One of the few things I dislike about Final Fantasy VII is the Gold Saucer. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch's casino? It's not required. What about the slot machines in Legend of Lagana? Nope. Pass on this one. Playing Tetra Master in Final Fantasy IX is one of the few exceptions. Tetra Master is my favorite!
Almost every Dragon Quest game has a casino. Some games even feature multiple casinos. I don't mind them in this series for some reason. I'm not really sure why. But I can tell you that playing roulette with my wife in Dragon Quest XI is one of the funniest times I’ve had in a video game in a long time. When we hit the jackpot, we danced around the living room like it was real money.
Perhaps the reason I don't mind gambling halls and casinos in Dragon Quest is that (as far as I know) the games never require you to play there in order to advance the story. Side quests do, and you might want to try your luck in a casino if you want some nice gear, but it's not required. It's not like in FFVII, where you have to spend an hour or more running around the Gold Saucer's amusements to advance the plot. You could play some of these games for hours and never find a casino unless you go down the right well.
For whatever reason, I've enjoyed the majority of the casinos in Dragon Quest games. And like I said, playing roulette in DQ11 was definitely a highlight.
5. The History:
I see you already nodding off at the word history. Don’t! No other series has done more for the JRPG genre than Dragon Quest. If you have a favorite combat system, storyline, or RPG gameplay mechanic, Dragon Quest most likely invented it. Because it's so good, the job systems in Dragon Quest have been copied countless times by other franchises such as Final Fantasy and Shin Megami Tensei. And, years before Pokemon, Dragon Quest V allowed you to recruit monsters. No, I'm not attempting to start some nerdy franchise war. I'm just trying to emphasize how innovative and significant Dragon Quest is to an entire genre of games.
6. The Art:
Seriously, I enjoy looking through art books for my favorite movies and video games, and this one is possibly my favorite. Dragon Quest's art style is distinct and beautiful. Since the first Dragon Quest in 1986, Akira Toriyama has designed the characters and defined the art style.
I'm disappointed by the lack of art books for this series because I adore the art. There is currently only one in English, and the rest are in Japanese (but still look beautiful). I'm about halfway through Dragon Quest Illustrations right now, and I'm having a great time with it. I even save strategy guides in order to catch snippets of extra artwork. If I’m not playing a Dragon Quest game, there’s a good chance I’m looking at some Dragon Quest art. Is that insane? Maybe.
7. The Mini-Medals:
It may appear absurd that one of my favorite aspects of the series is collecting small coins known as mini-medals, but it is completely true. I enjoy discovering them! I search every bookcase, every well, every pot, and every treasure chest in search of them. In previous entries, I kept tapping the "A" button in an attempt to find random ones scattered on the ground. The mini-medals can be traded to a collector for (usually) difficult-to-find items. However, I have only very rarely needed these items. I only do it for the joy of collecting these tiny coins. I missed collecting mini-medals in DQ1 and 2, so when I saw that they'd been added to the iOS version of DQ3, I was overjoyed.
8. The People:
People in Dragon Quest are even more bizarre than the monsters. Almost every NPC you meet has its own quirky personality, strange backstory, or random eccentricity. In Dragon Quest VII, for example, you may come across a man who is simply peeing in a corner. Why? That is why there is no reason. In Dragon Quest III, you might come across a powerful father willing to perform (that still mysterious and explicit art of) puff-puff on your hero. 'Cor Blimey, for sure.
9. The Towns:
Dragon Quest towns are always interesting. One of the series' highlights is that each town has its own distinct storyline, characters, and vibe. Maybe the Demon King has taken over the village, or maybe everyone has turned to stone, or maybe there's a mysterious love triangle that only our heroes can solve. Even at the beginning of the series, the towns feel distinct and intriguing.
Having towns to visit with their own problems and culture is one of the series mainstays. Many towns have their own dialects or accents. Dragon Quest VII does it so frequently that it's borderline complex. Dragon Quest XI, the most recent entry, nails it. Each town feels massive and unique, and each one has its own culture–from art to cuisine to architecture.
10. The Monsters:
Dragon Quest is well-known for its antagonists. Its Blue Slime is iconic and serves as the series mascot. It's as synonymous with Dragon Quest as chocobos are with Final Fantasy or Pikachu are with Pokemon. The other Dragon Quest enemies are equally memorable. Dragon Quest isn't complete without mentions of sand golems, drackies, and metal slimes.
The antagonists haven't changed much over the course of the series thirty-year run. Why? Because they're so memorable and good. Many of them appear bizarre, and the majority of their names are puns that you will enjoy. If you don't snicker at least once while reading the name of an enemy in Dragon Quest, you're a robot—possibly even a cyborg, then you are a robot–or maybe even a sand golem yourself.