I found myself searching the google play store on my phone for a game. I wasn’t looking for anything specific but having grown tired of the games I already had I searched desperately for something new. This is an activity I often engage in and it almost always ends with me downloading nothing at all after a long app trek. Maybe I’ve become jaded but rarely does anything jump out at me anymore when frolicking amongst smart phone games. But then there it was, a free NES emulator.
I know that emulators are hardly a new invention and I used to enjoy them years ago on my PC. I think their existence had kinda slipped my mind over the years and so I felt like a child stumbling upon a long-lost toy under the bed. I downloaded it and immediately an old NES favorite jumped into my head, Dragon Warrior IV. Searching for the ROM I found the first game in the series from 1989 and decided that I would give it a try. It was little gem produced my the company Enix (later to become Square Enix)
Its worth mentioning that 1992’s Dragon Warrior IV (Dragon Quest IV in Japan) was my introduction to RPG video games, or any RPGs for that matter. I wouldn’t discover D&D till years later, but that’s another story. I was surprised how much grinding is required in the first Dragon Warrior. You really had to be dedicated to the cause to get those sweet level-ups. I had also forgotten how adorable some of the monsters are, especially the ever famous slime. What psychopath decided that the monsters I was murdering should lock eye contact and smile the whole time?
The slime, inspired by the Wizardry slime, was originally supposed to be just a “pile of goo” but the smiling teardrop is what the artist came back with and everyone thought it was perfect. And so began putting smiling faces on all the monsters. The game is so simplistic compared to a modern jrpg but its interesting how much we still see elements of these old games. Hit points to track health, magic points for spells, every monster poops gold coins upon death, leveling up. I was very amused when I saw the first two spells the hero learns, “heal” and “hurt”. I like to image that they had some huge list of spells after a long brain storming session and then someone was like “You know, these spells all do pretty much one of two things, I think we can simplify this a bit”.
What is it about nostalgia? By today’s standards theses games are crap and yet I so thoroughly enjoyed myself, sitting there murdering happy slimes while sitting on the couch in my underwear. Perhaps its more than simple nostalgia though. Maybe a game designed primarily to be fun has a natural edge on a game that focuses more on encouraging you to get the DLC with fun being a secondary priority. Maybe I’m just getting old, who knows. Anyways, imma go play some excite bike.
Written By Steven Cleek