Decided to play through the entire Dragon Quest series in order, excluding X.
Cleared I-III and going to start IV this weekend. I've completed them all in the past, not including IX Sentinels of the Starry Skies. IV-VI I'll be emulating on DS because I prefer the port to the originals and don't feel like patching a translation. Difficult to rank my preference of this series, but VIII is easily the best and my favorite. Level 5 really hit a home run with the ce;-shaded graphics, the skill system and huge colorful open world to explore while maintaining the mechanics; it's great.
I think VII is the most popular in Japan and I enjoy the game, but holy shit does it start slow. It takes upwards of two hours to get into the meat of the game. Yawn. DQI is probably my least favorite simply because it's so outdated, only allowed one party member and was improved upon in sequels. RPGs nowadays are too easy. One could say the grind gave it artificial difficulty, but there's something bittersweet about accidentally wandering into an area of strong monsters to early. In DQII running into a group of 4 green dragons only to be ambushed and remain helpless as they all spew fire onto your whole party. Game over and there is nothing you could do. Alternatively running into Gold Batboons and not killing them off quickly enough once they reach critical HP levels and watching as they use Sacrifice. Was it unfair? Definitely. Do I love it? Definitely.
The game threw everything it had at you before reaching the final save point, like a personal vendetta to stop you.
The line between poorly balanced mechanics and challenge in RPGs is a tight line to walk, but I for one miss the tension and fear of enemy encounters. Having to know little details like Shields of Strength restoring HP when used in battle and that certain enemies were weak to sleep or instant death was so fun to discover as a child. Enix kept the Hero's sword with the same stats was also a nice touch.
The third game wrapped up the Erdrick trilogy nicely and was one of the first console RPGs to implement a class based system that you could choose at the beginning and alter as you see fit. Probably the inspiration for a lot of other titles, even though it borrowed heavily from D&D.
When I finish I'll pop back in and rank the series. Probably take me a month, just as a guess.