Before there was Final Fantasy, before there was Mass Effect, there was Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior previously). Dragon Quest was the RPG that focused on gameplay, grinding and consistency. It left the cinematics and mind-blowing graphics to other JRPGs, focusing on creating a fun world to explore with awesome monster designs and old-school notions. It’s actually more popular in Japan than Final Fantasy is. Shocking, no?
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen was previously released in the United States in 1992. On the NES. If you were wondering why you never played it, that would be the reason. Sad to say, its also my reason. But now we have the DS release from this past October. Bringing the game into the new century with a few tweaks here and there and updated visuals, this is a must have for any RPG gamer.
As previously stated, Dragon Quest never really tried to wow us with graphics, but the cartoony visuals in this version look like they could have come from a PS1 game. Not a Final Fantasy VII type game, but more along the lines of a better version of Suikoden. The game is strictly 2-D, but it has a charm in its character and monster design that few other games can achieve. The monsters are all colorful creatures with funny names like Goreilla and they all smile at you with insanity as they try to pummel your party into submission.
The story is unique in its structure, but standard in content. The game starts with a brief introduction to the Hero, who you name and choose a gender for (In that order. Does that seem strange to you?). This serves as the prologue of the game.
The rest is broken up into chapters, with the first four involving the various people who will eventually join the Hero on his quest. Chapter 1 has you playing a castle guard on the search for missing children, Chapter 2 involves a princess who is a tomboy wanting to explore the world while Chapter 3 deals with a merchant and his quest to open his own store. Chapter 4 shows two twin girls trying to avenge their father’s death. The fifth chapter brings the story back to the Hero you created at the start and everyone you played as in the previous chapters will join you before long.
The battle system is par for the course for Dragon Quest games. One change is that in this new version, you can control your entire party’s actions, which you could not do in the original. This would make battles frustrating in this day and age, so I applaud the change. Dragon Quest has never really been about powerful summons or spells. Its the kind of game where strategy plays a role, but more often than not, if you are having trouble beating a boss, you need to grind.
Which is fine because Dragon Quest IV is one of the few RPGs that makes grinding not only tolerable, but highly enjoyable. The battles come often, but end just as quick. All battles are random, but they take place from a first person perspective so there are no character animations you have to watch everytime you cast heal. This serves to make things move extremely quick. You could fight 3 battles in a single minute without rushing. The battles are turn-based, so you can also take your time and plan things out, as well. It all makes for a fine mix of speed and strategy, however you may choose to play.
There is a lot of game to be played here, expect to sink at least 25 hours into it, but more likely over 30. Dragon Quest doesn’t do a whole lot new, other than the chapter structure, but what it does, it does very well. If you want to experience a great game from one of the series that helped to create RPGs as we know them today, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen is a great game to pick up. Once you play this, you will want to play more in the series.
How does our grading system work? Check out our grade chart!