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View Full Version : Latecomer Reviews: Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen



Fynn
02-10-2016, 10:08 PM
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Winter is finally letting go, so the days aren't as cold anymore and my hands are no longer sand paper. Might have to do with the fact that I decided to ditch the iPhone in favor of my beloved little black DS Lite to play the Zenithian trilogy of the Dragon Quest series. Though that of course meant I had fewer opportunities to play, I'm glad that I've rediscovered the joy of playing a good old classic JRPG cuddled up in my chair under a warm blanket. Although this time around, I'm a bit less enthusiastic.


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Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen tells the story of the Chosen Heroes who are destined to save the world from an evil overlord. By now, you can probably see a pattern. However, as Dragon Quest is not as stale a series as many would have you believe, there are some interesting twists to this story that are still pretty groundbraking. The story is told in chapters, each of which sees you taking control of a different chosen hero. There are five main story chapters and one additional, post-game chapter, and you spend four chapters in the shoes of other characters than the main protagonist that you name. It's an interesting concept... on paper. The execution leaves a bit to be desired this time around.

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Since, as usual, there is one continuous world map, that means you get to explore limited chunks of it in the chapters leading up to chapter 5. This really limits that freedom you had in the previous games. By the time you step into the shoes of your protagonist, half of the world is already uncovered, killing a bit of that sense of wonder and excitement that you had when you got the traveller's map in DQ III. Also, the characters themselves are not that interesting for today's standards, which is a shame considering the multi-character narrative was the main thing this game had going for it back in the game. I will have to give credit where it's due, however – the villain is very interesting and holds up even today. I don't know about the later games in the series, but as of DQ IV, the main villain of this game is definitely the best in the series. In that way, this game is evocative of Final Fantasy III to me – a story that is pretty outdated by todays standards and has aged even more poorly than its prodecessors, but the villain is surprisingly well fleshed out and interesting. Another thing worth mentioning is Torneko's chapter, as you take control of a simple everyman whose entire story basically revolves around running a weapon shop. It's much better than it sounds.


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Dragon Quest IV may not have aged well when it comes to the story, but the gameplay remains as immersive as it was before. Still running on the old “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” rule, DQ IV utilizes that tried and true turn-based battle system with random encounters. No job system this time around, and instead you get to customize your party using four of your eight characters at a time, with each one having different strengths and weaknesses. While I miss the flexibility of the job system, I can't say I didn't have fun with what I got, and it's nice that if your main party dies, the rest jumps out of the wagon and continues the fight instead.

The graphics look fantastic on the DS. Very detailed sprites are used for the characters, with some surprisingly fluid animations at times, while the environments are in full-3D, giving you the option of freely rotating your camera in towns and towers, but not in dungeons (which is for the better, as you'd get hopelessly lost otherwise). The monsters also finally move in battle! And this is where the spritework truly shines – the animations are very fluid, with a lot of unique animations for attacks that are very impressive. I almost jumped when the first slime I encountered pounced at me. The music is regular Sugiyama perfection, with the Menuet from the castle haunting me in my dreams, it's that good. The translation is in the same vein as in DQ III with lots of dialectal variation, which I think is really cool, and I'm glad we've established that the Olde Englishe was just a weird goth phase that the series quickly got over. The friggin' monster puns are still there, though. Are you seeing this? "Spinchilla". I swear to God.


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Overall, Dragon Quest IV was an enjoyable game and I'm glad this series tries to reinvent some elements with each installment, while retaining a core that remains recognizable to fans who can always count on something familiar. That said, while Dragon Quests I through III had a clear progression with better and better quality with each installment, Dragon Quest IV just did not age as well due to placing emphasis on an element that is less likely to stand the test of time. Regardless, I still recommend this game to old and new Dragon Quest fans, and of course, those curious about JRPGs in general. Though I played this on the DS, this version of Dragon Quest IV, along with the rest of the Zenithian trilogy, is availale on iOS for $22.99.

Pumpkin
02-10-2016, 11:00 PM
I liked it but didn't find it to be anything special. Torneko was top drawer though

FFNut
02-11-2016, 12:08 AM
Great review! This is one I missed in the series but may go back to it once I clear my back log.

Wolf Kanno
02-11-2016, 08:08 PM
Point for point, I agree with you Fynn. While DQIV is not a bad game, it certainly feels less like a natural progression than it's predecessors and it has the misfortune of being sandwiched between what are often considered to be the best entries in the franchise.

The chapter set up was pretty cool idea but it becomes sadly obvious that the Famicom really couldn't handle the concept to it's fullest, and the DQ team should have waited and made the game on a 16-bit platform instead. Still made me smile when Ragnar shows up in DQVIII in the Monster Arena though.

Spuuky
02-11-2016, 08:10 PM
You guys are extremely mistaken, this game is definitely better than DQ3. It's an amazing game and is very clearly the best game on the NES in my opinion.

Fynn
02-11-2016, 08:18 PM
I'll pretend I didn't hear that

Wolf Kanno
02-11-2016, 08:52 PM
You guys are extremely mistaken, this game is definitely better than DQ3. It's an amazing game and is very clearly the best game on the NES in my opinion.

Why?

Spuuky
02-11-2016, 09:43 PM
The world is larger and more well interconnected, the characters are far more interesting/different, the gameplay is basically the same but with slightly better monster designs in some cases. The chapter system is far superior to anything in the previous games.

I have never played any of the remakes so I can't speak to how those have improved or worsened any of these games, but the original DQIV is much better than the original DQ I-III (even though I love all Dragon Quests).

Fynn
02-11-2016, 09:48 PM
I think III was definitely the best so far. The world actually worked better for me then, and that twist at the end was quite awesome.

Also, IV has a final boss that is total BS :p