Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen - Reader Review  

Hero casts "Puff!"
by Shawn Denney

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20-40 Hours
+ Awesome presentation
+ Battles as old school as they can get
+ Possibly the best spell names ever
+ Great character development
- Weak overall story
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   IN days long past, a company called Enix made a game called Dragon Quest. When it made its way to the United States, it got its name changed to Dragon Warrior. It was a smash success on the NES, and spawned many sequels. The last of the Dragon Warrior games to the NES was one titled Dragon Warrior IV. Now, many years and video games systems later, we get an enhanced remake titled Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen.

   Chapters of the Chosen can be semi-accurately described as 5 shorter games all taking place in the same world. There is also a sixth story as a bonus chapter that appears after you complete the game. This idea of storytelling is one of Dragon Quest IV’s greatest strengths. Sadly, it’s not without some problems though. Every time you finish a chapter, you start a new one with completely new characters at level 1. So as soon as I felt my characters were finally getting strong, I’m right back at square one. It was a little frustrating, but this issue is more of a personal opinion than a game flaw. Since the game does contain a chapter, or story, for each of the main characters, you get a much greater understanding for them. This is a VERY good thing in the world of RPG’s.

   If you have never played a Dragon Quest game before, let me lay it out for you. They are the very definition of old school turn based battles. Each turn, you pick what you want your characters to do from a list, and then watch as you do the massive damage of 7. Yeah, you read that right. There is no need for big numbers here. You may even have characters with 87 hp at the end of the game. It’s kind of awesome, and some of the spell names are just genius. They consist of things such as “bang” and “Whack” and “Swoosh”. Sadly, there is no spell called “hurt more” like there was in the original Dragon Warrior, but I forgive them on that one.

Doesn’t that look pretty? Doesn’t that look pretty?

   The world of Dragon Quest IV is actually quite interactive. Every character, object, and setting all have something to contribute to the overall experience. If you want to raid money from that innocent looking barrel, than you break that barrel and take its contents. If you want to barge into the dressing room of the bar/stage, than you go right in. The game is full of the RPG nuances of old, and that is such a good thing. It adds oodles of charm to the game.

   There are two stories when looking at the sound. On one hand, there are the very nice fanfare tunes that have always been with the series. On the other hand, the game restarts the songs with every battle. This means you hear the same intro notes over and over and over again. *Sigh* It really is a shame that the game does this because songs that should be enjoyable begin to grate on the nerves.

   The visual department in this game is very nice. It has a bright color palette, 3-D environments, and uses 2-D sprites. The camera can be rotated at any time to take in the wonder of this world. The enemy’s are rendered very nicely in battle and their animations are engaging to watch. Akira Toriyama’s design is used throughout the entire game and is shown nicely.

What?! Purple slime pile... be afraid What?! Purple slime pile... be afraid

   For whatever reason, Square-Enix opted to not use any touch screen controls for this game. I personally don’t really find this to be a problem (I think only a handful of games got touch screen control right, the rest just play worse because of it) but some people out there may think differently. Then it does raise the question though, why is this game on the DS if it doesn’t use the systems primary feature? We’ll leave that issue for another time...

   Anyway, this game can be HARD! However, that is not always the case. Since it is a remake of a much older game, and very little changed besides the bonus chapter and the presentation, it stills has the occasional “grind to progress” thing going on. It’s not as in-your-face as other games of old, but it still is present here. It’s a good thing I have “thwack” to help me through all those battles though. Mwa ha ha ha! But seriously, the grinding is a little disappointing but not that big of a problem.

   This is a game that brings RPG’s back to its roots while giving it a facelift. A few questionable design choices, like the restarting music and the less than stellar story conclusion, keep this game from being a must own. This game is a good reminder of why RPG’s were so awesome back in the day, and also a reminder of why advancements have been made to the genre.

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