Ranking All of Dragon Quest Games on Nintendo Switch – SwitchArcade Special Edition

It was brought to my attention after ranking the Final Fantasy games on Nintendo Switch a while back that I should give equal time to its rival/stablemate. Well, since I’ve done the Mario games, Zelda games, and Pokemon games, I might as well go about ranking the Dragon Quest games we have available on the system. Note that outside of Japan we don’t have nearly as many games in this series. There are another four or five games on the Japanese eShop, but as they aren’t available in English I’m going to leave them be. That leaves us with a sharp seven to rank, from the worst to the best. These potentially bad opinions are mine and mine alone, and I take full responsibility for them. Time for the rankings!

7. Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line

Let me be clear: I believe Dragon Quest to be like pie in that there is no such thing as a bad one. But as usual, something has to be on the bottom of this list. If this were a better port of Dragon Quest II it might not be here, but the stuttering scrolling and less than impressive visual update give an additional burden to a game that already finds itself in an awkward position between the uncomplicated original and well-rounded third entry. Nevertheless, you should still play this if you mean to play the rest of the original trilogy.

6. Dragon Quest

I really and truly enjoy replaying this first game, and I do so every year. It’s practically a prototype of the Japanese RPG genre, but the simplicity of it and overall lack of filler makes it a relatively breezy affair, especially with the boosted gold and experience points gains in these remakes. That said, it suffers from the same stuttering as the second game and has a very similar visual style. I also can’t deny that it’s a bit of a grindy affair, more so than any other game in the series. Maybe that’s what you’re in the mood for, though.

5. Dragon Quest Treasures

As Dragon Quest spin-offs go, this might have been a slight misfire. It’s almost a bit too easy, and some players looking for a more robust role-playing experience might be turned off by it. That makes it a good choice for younger players or those who are new to the genre, if nothing else. It looks good, plays well, and if you get into the treasure-hunting mechanics there’s plenty to enjoy here. There’s nothing else in the series quite like it, and given how its sales went, there may never be again.

4. Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation

Putting this here is utterly painful for me, given that the third entry in the series is typically among my top few games in the series. But once again, it’s a case of a weaker port. It’s not quite as bad as the ports of the other two original trilogy games, but it doesn’t look great running on Switch and in terms of content and overall polish it falls short of even the Game Boy Color port. With all of that said, even a less than best version of Dragon Quest III is still Dragon Quest III. It’s just about as good as you can get for RPGs from the 8-bit console era. A truly epic pay-off to the stories and lore built up in the first two games, and valuable context for the rest of the series in some surprising ways.

3. Dragon Quest Builders

I think people could go either way on this one, but as much as I love Dragon Quest Builders for its impressive blend of Minecraft and Dragon Quest, I like the sequel just a little bit more. In this first game’s favor, it runs a bit better on the Switch than its follow-up does. Some might also prefer its more focused approach to its ideas. On its own, it really is a marvelous game and a nice gateway to get Dragon Quest players into Minecraft and Minecraft players into Dragon Quest. Plus, who doesn’t love stories where you get to see the alternate universe where things went bad instead of good?

2. Dragon Quest Builders 2

For me, this is the better of the two Builders games. It’s more feature-rich, has great multiplayer options, and the scope of just about every aspect has been expanded in satisfying ways. The story is also a lot better, especially if you’ve played Dragon Quest II before. With the larger size comes an extra burden on the hardware, however, so do be aware that it has some performance issues at times. As long as you can tolerate that, there isn’t much to dislike in Dragon Quest Builders 2. It’s a fantastic action-RPG, and I would go as far as to say the best such in the Dragon Quest franchise.

1. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition

A very unsurprising choice, I’m sure. Dragon Quest XI is a wonderful RPG and a strong entry in this legendary series. This Switch version adds a bunch of extra goodies to the previous release, but even if you never touch any of that stuff you’ve got an epic quest ahead of you. The story is superb, and the characters are quite endearing. You can even choose to play the whole game in classic-style 2D. And for all the Dragon Quest VIII fans out there, you can dress up the hero as the main character from that game and even use some of its music. A must-have RPG on the Switch, and the finest Dragon Quest experience on the console that you can get.

In some ways, this was the most difficult one of these yet for me. I love the Dragon Quest series, and it’s very hard to pick favorites as a result. I expect some folks to disagree with me, and I’m more than happy to see your own rankings in the comments below. I’ll probably be back with another ranking before too long, but I haven’t decided yet which series I’ll tackle next. Thanks for reading!