The Dragon Quest series is a major JRPG series that is often compared to Final Fantasy. Dragon Quest has a similar structure to Final Fantasy in more recent titles, but the first six games in the series were two separate trilogies, after which each game has its own world, story, and characters. The series is actually what lead to the JRPG franchise and has been quoted as some of the inspiration for the Final Fantasy series as Dragon Quest was the first true JRPG originally releasing its first game in 1986 in Japan.
Dragon Quest was known in the US as Dragon Warrior until 2005 due to copyright issues, so be aware of this when searching for older games, although remakes released after 2005 are renamed to Dragon Quest. With this noted, there is one huge reason you should look into some Dragon Quest games, most likely you already love Dragon Quest. How can such a little-known series already have your love you ask? Dragon Quest and its many side games encompassing several genres have inspired and are directly linked to almost every modern JRPG in existence. First the series established ed the classic turn-based combat, directly inspired Final Fantasy, was a pioneer in spinoff games that expanded secondary characters as protagonists of their own stories, started the popular Mystery Dungeon series which Pokémon has a huge side series for, and the artwork is 100% handled by Akira Toriyama the artist of the famous Dragon Ball series. This is just a taste of how much Dragon Quest has affected the gaming world.
As stated previously Dragon Quest has a long series of side games that encompass several different genres. So if a traditional JRPG isn’t exactly what you’re looking for you can find games in the series to introduce you to the ever-present monsters that the series is recognizable for. One of the largest spinoff series is the Dragon Quest Monsters series. There are a total of 4 unique games in the series as well as Nintendo DS remakes of the first two. This series is all about taming and breeding the monsters of the Dragon Quest world and using them to battle similar to Pokémon. As well as Monsters, there is the most recent spinoff for the PS4 Dragon Quest Heroes, a Dynasty Warriors inspired game that pulls characters from many popular Dragon Quest games to fight together on an epic quest spanning an entire continent. All the games generally have JRPG elements for game mechanics but are built around different concepts and allow for much different gameplay. The spinoffs are also easier to step into as they’re more widely available and cheaper, but they still have a lot of great content to offer.
As for the main series of games they are extremely story focused and usually revolve around a hero building a party to stop a great villain. While the stories are usually much more in depth than this simple concept they drive themselves with unique and memorable characters and settings, and all share monster designs and art styles. They also improve the battle system and graphics with each release, most recently Dragon Quest VII was re-released in a full remake version for Nintendo 3DS in North America, and Dragon Quest XI is currently slated for a 2017 release.
In short, Dragon Quest will have something for almost anyone who loves JRPGs of any sort. It has been a driving force for much of Japan’s gaming industry and is still a major influence in Japan. It’s worth checking out the long list of games from the series to see if any catch your interest.