Dragon Quest is, admittedly, a series I don't have extensive experience with. I've played VIII, and was underwhelmed. I found it to be fun, but not really a great console experience. So when I heard that not only was Dragon Quest IX slated to be coming out on the DS, but three remakes of classic games in the series as well, I was optimistic. I felt like the smaller screen would be a far more appropriate home to the old-school feel of Dragon Quest.
So now my theory is being put to the test. I've had Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen for just over a week and I've sunk nearly twenty hours into the title. So was I right? Is Nintendo's successful platform a good spot for the popular series?
Of course I was right. Don't be silly.
"Dragon Quest IV retains its classic feel while taking advantage of Nintendo's unique hardware."
Square Enix seems to have learned from remake experience to craft this title. Dragon Quest IV retains its classic feel while taking advantage of Nintendo's unique hardware. The best part is that, unlike the Final Fantasy remakes, Dragon Quest IV never tries to push the DS to do more than it can do. A great example of this mix is when the characters are exploring the various towns. The buildings and characters retain a pleasant, simple, sprite-like look, but the area spreads itself across both screens. This looks attractive and feels less claustrophobic than restricting the surroundings to one screen. But it doesn't stop there, in this DS remake, you have the ability to rotate the view of the town 360 degrees. The result is a perfect blend of old and new.
What is also impressing me is the story-telling. While the plot is nothing special, the way the story is told is making me care about the typical characters and their not-so-new stories of princesses, revenge, and dormant hero abilities. Chapters of the Chosen is aptly named since the game is split into a number of different chapters. But this format doesn't just arbitrarily split the story into chunks, but rather jumps from character to character as the chapters progress. Each new character has his or her own story and always starts fresh. Rather than being frustrating, this keeps the game feeling fresh. At least it does so far, as I remain excited at the 20 hour mark.
But I haven't only run into incredible things so far. The quick save option is restricted to the world map and thus practically negating what makes a quick save convenient in the first place. There are some absolutely confusing choices that went into organizing the otherwise mostly clean menus. There are absolutely zero touch controls, and I still need to go to the church to check how much experience my characters need to level up. I don't care if that's "just Dragon Quest", it's a silly mechanic that Square Enix needs to let go of.
But enough of me ranting, I will go far more in depth about these and other wonderful and annoying qualities when the full review goes up mid-September before the game's North American September 18 release date.