So, finally, here's a community thread for one of the biggest JRPG series. Discuss everything you want about the series here.
But first, for everyone not quite so familiar with Dragon Quest, let's do a "quick" overview.
Dragon Quest / Dragon Warrior
The game that started it all. Not only is it the first game in the series, it's also the origin of what we consider JRPGs today. This also means it's still very barebones. Your party only consists of one character throughout the whole game and even enemies always fight solo. You can explore the world freely and the only hints you get are few cryptical hints from villagers. And it's one of those early RPGs in which you really have to grind.
If you enjoy all that, definitely give this game a try, it's still a lot of fun. The US NES version is greatly improved with some better graphics, an easier to use interface and most importantly battery saves, so make sure to play that version. Or go for the remakes on SFC and GBC, they look quite a bit nicer and the difficulty has been toned down a little. The GBC version is available in English, the SFC version has been fan-translated. There's also a mobile port for iOS and Android.
Dragon Quest II / Dragon Warrior II
The typical sequel. You get a bigger world, you finally get a party of three people and monsters now come in groups. Basically a lot of improvements all around. But beware, the game likes to screw with the player, like when you're trying to recruit your second party member, and it's easy to get lost in the overworld later in the game.
As for which version to play, basically everything I wrote for the first Dragon Quest is true here as well with the small addition that the fan translation is very buggy. Keep in mind that the GBC and SFC versions both come with the first and second game on one cartridge. There's also an iOS and Android version recently released worldwide.
Dragon Quest III / Dragon Warrior III
I only just recently started playing this, so maybe someone else can provide a more detailed explanation, but basically this game adds a class system for the first time in the series. You can freely choose your hero's gender and some kind of psychological test at the beginning determines your personality. Your additional party members can be recruited at a bar. This is also the first time there's a day and night cycle in the series. This seems to be one of the most well regarded entries in the series.
The NES and GBC versions are both available in English, but the SFC version has been fan-translated and seems to be the best version to play. From the looks of it, it's based on Dragon Quest VI's graphic engine. There's also an iOS and Android port based on the SNES version.
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen / Dragon Warrior IV
As the name implies this game is divided in several chapters, with the early ones all focusing on a different party member. These are the usual warrior and priest type characters, but there's also a merchant which leads to a Recettear type mini-game. This character seems to be rather popular as he even got his own spin-off series, as you can see further below.
The DS version really is the one to go for here, just because of how much more convenient it is to play. Sadly the English DS release omitted the Party Talk feature, which is a rather heavy loss, so let's just pretend you never heard of this so you won't notice. There's a port for Android and iOS, it was released in the West and even includes the Party Chat cut from the DS version.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
This is the first game in the series with a heavy focus on the story. You follow your hero's life from his early childhood when he travels with his father to his adulthood when you get to choose your future bride. Instead of normal party members, you have to catch monsters that fight alongside you for most of the game, and yes, this was quite a bit before the first Pokémon game. This is just my personal preference, but if you want to play just one game in the series, make it this one.
The only official English choice here are the DS and mobile versions. The DS version is a great port (of the PS2 version), so play this one, I can't say anything about the mobile version, though. The other two versions on SFC and PS2 have both been fan-translated by now, in case you'd rather want to try one of them.
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation / Realms of Reverie
This has the somewhat cliché premise of a party of amnesiac heroes after they get defeated by the big evil boss. Through your journey you switch between the dream world and the real world, maybe kinda like in A Link to the Past. The story is told through a set of smaller stories that happen in each town you visit.
I've only played the DS version, but from what I've heard it has been streamlined quite a bit, and not in a positive way, so it feels like you're rushing through most of the sub-stories with barely anything having a lasting effect. So if you have the chance, try the SFC version. You have to use a fan translation for that, even though we came very close to an English release. If you don't want to bother with that, just get the English DS or mobile versions.
Dragon Quest VII / Dragon Warrior VII
I guess the one thing this game is most famous for is its extreme length. So if you want to finish this, make sure to set aside 100+ hours to get through it. But on the other hand you get a huge world to explore, with a lot of wonderfully written side stories. This has some of my favorite and most memorable side stories in the whole series, so the trip is certainly worth it. Since it's on the PSX, it's also the first game in the series to feature 3D environments. The 3DS version has completely reworked graphics and adds new content as well as changes several things to make it easier to progress. It also has visible enemy encounters, but those seem to be rather aggressive, which leads to an overall higher battle count in this version. Still, overall the 3DS version is the recommended version to play.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
This marks a very important step forward for the series as this is the first mainline Dragon Quest game released in Europe! Yes, Europe only had to wait a mere 18 years for its first real Dragon Quest. The first game in the overall series released in Europe, by the way, was the GBC Dragon Quest Monsters.
This was also part of a bigger push for the Dragon Quest brand in the West, as evident by the huge effort put into the localization. The Western version features voice overs, a graphical interface and an orchestral soundtrack not present in the original Japanese version.
The story is about a castle guard that's the only one unaffected by a curse put on his castle. So you travel with your king and princess to find the perpetrator and break the curse. The game's notable changes are a slower battle system that lets you see your party members attacking the monsters, the introduction of the alchemy pot which lets you create new items from different ingredients and a connected overworld.
You have the choice between an Android/iOS version, the original PS2 version and a 3DS port with added content. The 3DS port is the recommended version to get.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
This is somewhat of a throwback to Dragon Quest III. Your party only consists of user created characters and you can assign vocations (i.e. classes) to each of them. New additions are the multiplayer mode and the fun feature of only having one save file on your game. It's also the only mainline game that's only been released on a handheld.
Only one version, get that one.
Dragon Quest X: Mezameshi Itsutsu no Shuzoku Online
Sadly, this is a subscription based and IP-locked Japan-only MMORPG, so I can't say anything about it. So far it hasn't been announced for a Western release, but it was and will be released on a lot of different platforms in Japan.
Dragon Quest XI: Sugisarishi Toki wo Motomete
Coming to 3DS and PS4 on July 29th, 2017. Switch version will probably come at a later date. The 3DS version features the option to choose between 3D and 2D graphics. The PS4 version is completely in 3D using the Unreal Engine 4. It's currently unknown which of these versions the Switch port will be based on. No Western release announced yet.
Dragon Quest Monsters series
Basically these are Pokémon games with a Dragon Quest theme. They retain the basic Dragon Quest battle system, but it's all about catching monsters now. The first two games were both released on Game Boy Color and each got remakes on the 3DS. Sadly, we're still waiting for localizations of those remakes, but the original games got both released here.
The Joker subseries modernized the Monsters series a bit with 3D visuals and on-screen enemies. But, since I've only played the two games here and none of the original series, I can't really compare them to say what exactly is so different about them that they got a new name. What I can say, though, is that they are very much worth checking out. There's an updated "Professional version" for Joker 2 that was only released in Japan (despite a rather late release of the Western version of the original Joker 2). Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 3 is also getting a "Professional" version, but neither this nor the original version are announced for a Western release.
Dragon Quest Mysterious Dungeon series
Part of the larger Mysterious Dungeon series by Chunsoft, that also includes games in the Final Fantasy, Pokémon and Shiren universe. These are basically rogue-like games. I never played one of the Dragon Quest games in this series, so I can't comment on the quality, but if you like this very niche genre, give them a try. The only one released in English however is the PSX game "Torneko's Last Hope", the one with the ugly cover.
Slime MoriMori series
Of the Slime MoriMori games only the DS title "Rocket Slime" has been released in English (but wasn't released in Europe). These seem to be action-adventure type games which all star the beloved slime.
Dragon Quest Heroes series
Dragon Quest Heroes is an action style spinoff developed by Omega Force that plays similar to their Musou series, but with a bigger focus on RPG elements and some light tower defense influences. Its sequel was only released in Japan and but it's scheduled to release in North America and Europe in late April 2017. There's also a version for Switch that combines both titles into one game. It's only been released in Japan so far with no Western release confirmed yet.
These two games are on-rail RPGs, where you have to swing your sword to attack monsters and block attacks with your shield. The Wii game "Dragon Quest Swords" was even released everywhere in the West.
Itadaki Street / Fortune Street
The Itadaki Street games are a series of virtual board games, that play very similar to Monopoly, with some added depth like the ability to buy shares of certain streets. If you haven't been cynical about the financial market, after these games you will be. Fortune Street (or Boom Street in Europe) is the only entry in the series released in the West and I highly recommend picking this up.
All the rest
And finally here's the rest of the bunch, all that didn't quite fit in the other subseries.
Monster Battle Road seems to some kind of card-based action game, two of the games were only released in the arcade and the one Wii game was never released in the West. I have never played or even seen them, so I don't know anything about them.
Dragon Quest Wars is a download-only DSi strategy game. It's quite nice for a while, but don't expect much depth here.
That blue box is an anniversary collection released for the Wii which contains the Famicom and Super Famicom version of Dragon Quest I, II and III and comes with a nice mini medal. Sadly and unsurprisingly, this was never released in the West.
Theatrhythm: Dragon Quest is a rhythm game with a Dragon Quest theme for 3DS, similiar to the Final Fantasy Theatrhythm games. No localization announcement yet and it's rather unlikely it will get one at this point.
And finally Dragon Quest Builders is a building game heavily inspired by Minecraft, but seems to feature an ongoing story set after the "bad ending" of the first Dragon Quest. The story is structured in four chapters that have you rebuilt towns from the original Dragon Quest, but there's also an extra mode that lets you build as you please. It was released for PS4, PS3 and Vita in Japan and PS4 and Vita in the West.
Some carefully selected music:
Dragon Quest - Unknown World
Dragon Quest II - Only Lonely Boy
Dragon Quest III - Overworld
Dragon Quest IV - Endor Casino
Dragon Quest V - Violent Enemies
Dragon Quest VI - Folk Dance
Dragon Quest VII - Days of Sadness
Dragon Quest VIII - Conversation
Dragon Quest IX - Pub Polka
Dragon Quest X - Racing Heart
And of course: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtK051iBMsI
Special thanks to Aeana, who provided the awesome banner!
If anyone wants to provide a better description for one of the games, feel free to do so. I'll add it to the OP.
So, enter your name
and join the discussion.
As for the Puff-Puff, sadly this was removed for the Western version of this thread.