Well, with my TV busted, I can’t finish any of my console reviews. So, I thought I’d dust off an old DS game that I was nearly done with before I put it down.
In it’s initial incarnation, Dragon Quest IV was the final Dragon Quest game made for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the first in the Zenithian Trilogy. It originally came stateside as Dragon Warrior IV in 1992. The game was rereleased for the Nintendo DS in North America in September of 2008. The NDS remake offered significantly improved graphics overs its predecessor. Akira Toriyama’s character sprites were completely redone along with the world map, creating a pseudo-3D effect while travelling. I would say that the graphics are at least on par with the graphics from Dragon Quest VII for the PlayStation.
The original story is broken into five chapters. Each of the first four stars a different set of characters, while the fifth one stars the true hero (or heroine) of the story, with the characters from the first four chapters eventually joining in to fight the evil Psaro the Manslayer. The DS version adds a sixth chapter after the credits roll where Psaro can join your party, as he has a score to settle of his own. I enjoy that each of the chapters are written so that you gain some insight on the support characters and why they are on a mission that will eventually meet up with the hero. However, this system does have its faults; when each chapter starts, your starting characters begin at level 1, which can be a little dismaying after getting some hours in and starting chapter five with your protagonist only to find that you have to start out killing slimes and evil tree stumps for the fifth time. However, it doesn’t take forever to play through the chapters or level up. I believe that I ended up beating the original five chapters in about 24 hours.
Gameplay wise, the game is classic Dragon Quest. Unfortunately, this means that your DS’s touch screen interface is pretty much useless. Your troupe travels across the world map on foot for the most part, but eventually you will travel by ship and then hot air balloon. Along the way, there are plenty of random battles to be found. The battles are fought using the classic Dragon Quest POV system. In the bottom screen, you see the enemies head on, and will run through your command menus on that screen as well. Meanwhile, the top screen shows portraits of your characters along with their HP, MP and status effects.
There is more to a Dragon Quest game than just battle, but not by a whole lot. The standard Casino is available with card games, slots and a monster arena for betting. The coins won in the casino can be traded for items and equipment. Eventually, you encounter a city for you to recruit various NPCs into. As you add people, the city growns and offers new shops and items. And of course, there is the classic Mini-Medal quest where you find medals strewn across the world and they can be traded to the Medal King for rewards. However, in the end, these are all just sidequests to give you better things for battle.
The game is a simple Japanese RPG that hearkens back to the roots of console RPGs. I wish they had done something to apply the touch screen interface, and unfortunately, the game does not present much replay value. If you are a fan of RPGs, and want to get back to your roots, I would consider this a nice pick up, but if you’re looking for an RPG that’s innovative and will sell you on the genre as a whole, you might need to keep looking.
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