Posted on April 4, 2020
Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book/ドラゴンクエスト I・II 公式ガイドブック
Worth getting? Yes!
As a collectible, not as a walkthrough…
Table of Contents
Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book Overview
Here’s an interesting one – a “double” guide book! Just as the Super Famicom versions of Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II were packaged together into a single game, the Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book for the two games was done in the same style! This is the first time i’ve ran into a single strategy guide designed for multiple games (i’m sure some of the Wizardry compilations have guides that cover multiple games, but I haven’t picked up any Wizardry books yet…), so I didn’t really know what to expect at first.
To be honest, there’s nothing really too strange about it. Considering the two games were created in the same engine, there’s a lot of things that are shared across both games, which means that both games are covered seamlessly inside of the guide book. As you might imagine, the guides for both games are virtually 100% copies of each other content-wise, exceptions being the Dragon Quest II-exclusive stuff like Naval travel, party-based stuff, things like that.
Since this is two guides in one, the guide consists of a hefty 256 pages! The physical size of the book itself is kind of small, so while there are 256 pages you’ll have to burn through, there’s not a ton of different things going on on each page like you’ll find in other guide books, which means you’ll have a pretty easy time reading and finding what you’re looking for.
This is a fairly straightforward guide book compared to some other ones i’ve gone over that have in-depth stuff about character backgrounds, lore, and all of that. This guide does include character introductions, but Dragon Quest I’s “character” section only consists of 2 characters and Dragon Quest II’s only has 7 characters. While I will include pictures of it later on, I definitely don’t think there’s enough going on there to create an entire “Characters” section for this overview like I usually do. Therefore, this time we’ll only go over the “Guide” and “Data” sections!
Let’s dive right into it and see what the meat of the Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book is all about!
Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book “Guide” Section
At the beginning of the guide, there’s a few pages of the usual “Basic Operation” section that almost every RPG guide book has. This just explains the absolute basics such as what button does what, what signs on buildings indicate (weapon shops, inns, stuff like that), and what commands mean in menus/battle.
After this, it dives right into the walkthrough for Dragon Quest I. Each separate area in the game has a beautiful illustration included to give you a better idea of what the area/town should actually look like, along with its position on the world map and an in-game screenshot showing what the area looks like on the overworld when you’re walking around. There’s even a nice little “recommended level” indicator in the bottom corner to help you gauge your progress!
The following pages include a little backstory on the area, along with whatever you’ll find there. Towns include shop lists, bits of advice such as telling you where you can get uncursed, where you can save, as well as giving hints about interesting places/NPCs. Dungeons show maps of individual floors, along with the number of treasure chests you’ll find within the dungeon and a monster list. The monster list isn’t very good though, it’s just a list full of page number references – you’ll have to keep flipping back and forth to the monster appendix each time you want to check out a monster…even just some basic stats would have been been nice.
Shop lists are very similar. Thankfully, the shop lists have things like the price of the item and its stats included right there, so while you still do have a page number you’ll have to flip through, you can at least get a general idea of what each town offers at first glance. Not sure why they couldn’t do something like this for the monster list (even just HP and EXP values).
Up next is the big flaw with this guide book. This book does the exact same thing that I absolutely hated about the Star Ocean Official Guide Book/スターオーシャン公式ガイドブック – it basically beats around the bush the entire time. Maybe i’m just a weird person when it comes to games (i’ve come to realize I am – my definition of JRPG/RPG and love for physical copies of games and hardware rather than emulation/digital downloads seems to be completely alien to modern-day JRPG fans…), but I assume anyone who buys a guide book for the purpose of actually using it to get through a game would actually want the guide to have a walkthrough included inside.
Just as the Star Ocean guide book did, this book is more of a “hint” book, if I had to categorize it. Instead of being straight-forward and saying “Go to this town and talk to the mayor. After that, leave town and head east to the bandit hideout”, the book will say something like “There are rumors that the mayor might be having some trouble…” and “The townsfolk have been talking about a cave on the outskirts of town…”. It does this for basically every single area covered in the book. Again, I can’t say i’ve ever met anyone who wants to go through all the trouble to buy a strategy guide, only to want it to be “spoiler-free”…
Enix had their fingers in this and the Star Ocean guide’s pie, so maybe that’s just how Enix wrote their guides back in the day. I definitely don’t see the appeal in it.
That basically sums of the “Guide” portion of the book. This is not really a good thing to say, but the parts that I liked the most in the “Guide” section are, ironically, all of the non-walkthrough parts. The illustrations of each area + the screenshots of the position on the world map and the area on the overworld were definitely my favorite. The dungeon maps are definitely useful too, as some of the dungeons in Dragon Quest games can get kind of confusing.
Now we’ll dive into the better half of the Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book – the “Data” section!
Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book “Data” Section
This is where things start to pick up! As soon as the “Guide” section is finished, you’ll be greeting with the brief section covering all of the different spells in the game. This section is really nice – it has all of the essential info for each spell, such as the level you need to be in order to learn the spell, its MP cost, and if the spell can be used on the overworld map, during battle, or both. For an extra added touch, they even descriptions of each spell, an in-game screenshot of the spell being used during battle, and some awesome illustrations of the spell being used to further help you imagination!
Sadly, the first Dragon Quest only has a handful of spells in the entire game, so its section is just a few pages, but there’s a whole lot more going on in Dragon Quest II, so definitely look forward to the Dragon Quest II spell list and checking out all the cool artwork!
Next up is the Item List, which covers everything from Weapons to Armor to both consumable/key items. The guide book definitely redeems itself here in my opinion, because they put a lot of effort into the items lists. EVERY ITEM has its own unique illustration, along with a stat table which includes stuff like buying/selling price, Damage/Defense stats, and either a description of the item itself or a description of its usage (how much it heals, what it heals, how many enemies it hits).
One thing that stuck out to me immediately was the Armor list. In most guides that go the extra mile to include illustrations for everything, you’ll see illustrations of armor and stuff by itself. In this guide book, however, you see one of the characters modelling the armor! This is a first so far out of all the guides i’ve checked out on this website.
In the Dragon Quest I section, you’ll see the Hero wearing all the different armor sets, but in the Dragon Quest II section, you’ll see all 3 party members modelling different types of armor. I can definitely say I was expecting a much more lackluster index based on the low-effort feeling on the “Guide” section, but I have to say the “Data” section is definitely carrying the dead weight!
The last section for each game is the Bestiary. I definitely didn’t like the monster lists from the “Guide” , but the Bestiary is a bit better. You’ll find an in-game battle screenshot of each monster together with a bar graph (interesting approach…) of the monsters stats, with its GP and EXP values listed below. At the bottom of each monster’s table there is a brief description of the monster itself on the left side.
On right side you have a short “tip” which tells you what level you should be when you fight the monster along with advice on how to deal with them (put them to sleep, get ready to cure status ailments, things like that). At the very bottom of the page, you’ll have some illustrations of a few of the monsters on that given page.
The Bestiary isn’t anything super special. It’s definitely nowhere close to how cool the Item List is, but the Bestiary is still way better than I was expecting. I was honestly expecting just rows of text with the monster name, GP, and EXP. The “Guide” section definitely could have used shrunk versions of the in-game battle sprites and stat values included in the monster lists – this would have made the guide way more usable for anyone who just wants to take a quick peak at a dungeon.
Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book Review
If you read through the entire review, you’ll know that I was kind of harsh on the “Guide” section of the book, which by principle is the majority of the guide book. I still stand by the Star Ocean Official Guide Book/スターオーシャン公式ガイドブック being the worst guide book i’ve reviewed so far, but sadly the Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book is similar in a lot of regards. The fact that this is called the “Official Guide Book” yet it does very little to actually guide you through anything kind of rubs me the wrong way.
Of course, if you just follow along the pages and go to each area in order, you’ll be able to beat both games, but that’s a big cop out in my opinion. They could have gone a different route and chose to call it a “Settings Guide Book” like Squaresoft usually did, where it has the lore for each area along with interesting points and some “hints” about stuff. If they did this, I would have had much different expectations and wouldn’t have been nearly as hard on the “Guide” section as I was with this one.
So as you can probably tell, as a “Walkthrough-based Guide Book” I can’t recommend the Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book. The thing is though, I understand that most people who are going to read an overview of a Japanese-language Guide Book in English are most likely not interested in using said Guide Book as a walkthrough, but rather as an artbook or general piece of memorabilia. This is the Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book’s saving grace!
I can 100% recommend the Dragon Quest I & II Official Guide Book if you’re coming at it from an artbook or collectible angle! If you’re a fan of Toriyama himself, or just the general Dragon Quest aesthetic, you’re going to love this book. There are tons of different illustrations within the 256 pages of the book – monsters, towns, dungeons, characters, spells, equipment, you name it. If you want to get taken back to that early to mid 90’s Dragon Quest/Dragonball Z time-period, this’ll do it for you.