Dragon Quest: Your Story (Netflix) review – vintage gaming Critics Quest: Our Suffering



It’s a big weekend for video game adaptations, but you are better off having a fun vintage gaming weekend of playing Dragon Quest or Sonic the Hedgehog than seeing either in theaters this weekend.

This weekend marks the return of another cross-media adaptation of a video game turned movie, Sonic the Hedgehog, starring a video game in a face, Jim Carrey. I’m almost certain Netflix didn’t necessarily keep Akira Toriyama’s animated version of his role-playing, single-player 1992 video game, Dragon Quest: Your Story, on the shelf for counter-programming. Then again, this game was very popular, legendary now among vintage video game nerds and anime fiends. Of course, Sonic was released on Sega Genesis in 1991, so the people at the world’s great streaming giant might be onto something.

This fantasy adventure anime revolves around our hero named Luca. As a child, he became fatherless at the hands of an evil force named Ladja, who amounts to what I would call an evil wizard, Merlin with a bad complex and disposition. In order to save his mother, Luca wields, swings, and shows off the zenithian sword for all the girls to see. At least, well, that’s what I think is going on. Half the time I had no idea; which could amount to the mood I was in, my interest in the subject matter, or not realizing what a curmudgeon I’ve become.

Your Story is based on the fifth edition Dragon Quest game, which has been an influential series around the world. It was originally released in the summer of 2019 in Japan and is making its international debut on Netflix this weekend. This is a niche film, really for kids and vintage gaming fans; equating to a slightly harder version of a Saturday morning Nickelodeon cartoon. The plot is basic, but while animation doesn’t seem to be anything on par with Pixar, Illumination, or Dreamworks, it’s nothing to stick your nose up at. The real issue is the tediously mundane dialogue and the collection of scenes that come off as unedited role-playing game scenes, which are common in these fantasy-quest games that play out after you reach certain levels and completions. The problem is these scenes come with a skip button for a reason, and the makers here have now harnessed the essence of those into one large 104-minute montage that tests your patience endlessly.

The film starts in a cute way, with a view of the 1991 game being played for a few minutes that morphs into the animated version, giving vintage fans a thrill of living out their favorite old-school game. Unfortunately, while the animation remains its biggest selling point, the result is clunky, tepid, and, frankly, boring because of its lusterless dialogue — which garnered some mild flack for casting actors instead of video game voice actors — and plot. The script changed the game’s classic ending, which seems like a strange way to alienate fans.

You are better off having a fun vintage video game weekend of playing Dragon Quest or Sonic the Hedgehog than seeing either in theaters this weekend.

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M.N. Miller

M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.

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