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For those who follow the Dragon Quest franchise, and for those who had an NES, you may have come across this title (released as Dragon Warrior IV) back in 1990. It featured a method of plot development that was uncommon for RPGs on the archaic NES – dividing the story into chapters. The main story is fairly linear: to find the legendary hero capable of repelling the world of a rising evil force, thus saving humanity. Been there, done that, right?
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Game play is very similar to others in the Dragon Quest franchise. If you want to succeed, you need to fight monsters, and fight them often. In doing so, your party can collect the monetary funds needed to purchase improved equipment as well as several recovery items. It is, without a doubt, an old-fashioned method of playing RPGs, but it is a formula that Dragon Quest has used in all of its installments. One thing that gamers need to keep in mind is that some strategic planning is necessary to be successful in battle. This isn’t your standard “Hit & Heal, repeat ad nauseam” type of game. Spells that your characters learn are incredibly useful, and need to be put to the test almost immediately.
Navigation through menus and maps isn't particularly difficult. Depending on where you are, you're able to rotate the map by pressing the L or R button. Unfortunately, you can't use the stylus in this game. Otherwise, it'd be easier to move to and from different menus and get through battles quicker.
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Challenge & Story
As you probably can expect, since this game is a remake of an original, you shouldn’t expect a game of epic proportions. The main quest can be completed in about 20 hours, but there are some bonus dungeons that can also be completed for the hardcore gamer who wants to complete everything. Some of the fights can be a little bit of a challenge, particularly boss battles, but Dragon Quest games require more strategy than luck or skill.
You can also record how many monsters you’ve encountered and defeated while also checking out how many more you have yet to face. The storyline and the characters don’t really have that much substance to them. It’s fairly simplistic and linear, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad game. Those who are unfamiliar with Dragon Quest may have a difficult time getting into this type game. Gamers who are starved to find RPGs on the DS should at least consider giving this one a whirl. It won’t dazzle you, but it will at least keep you entertained for a while. There’s no online mode, and as already mentioned, the stylus can't be used in this game (kind of disappointing, as the hands do get a little bit cramped with the standard controls). These are minor setbacks, though, and don’t take away with the ability to play the game.
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Koichi Sugiyama provided the score to this game, as he did any other game in the Dragon Quest franchise. The variety of battle themes was a nice twist, which you see in one of the chapters. What I didn't like was the overall presentation of the music. Whenever a battle finishes, the music on the specific map (overworld, or dungeon) doesn't continue where it was cut off; it starts over. Constantly hearing the same little bit of each piece does get exhausting, and I don't know why appropriate pausing and continuing wasn't used in this game. It's a real shame because most of the music in this game, particularly the dungeons, is actually really good.
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Dragon Quest IV provides a nostalgic return to a classic, enough to thrill older gamers, but appealing enough to attract a new generation. The storyline won't blow you away, but this game has a certain charm to it that makes you want to see things through to the end. It's not terribly challenging, but it's no breeze, either. Combined with a solid soundtrack, Dragon Quest IV is a solid title that any fan of RPGs should want.
This is the first of two other games being remade for the Nintendo DS. Dragon Quest V is the next in line, followed by Dragon Quest VI. The way these games work (IV, V, and V) is that they are all linked together in some small way. You don't need to necessarily play one of them in order to understand the next games in line, but certain characters make a reappearance in the following two titles. As of this review, Dragon Quest V is available, whereas Dragon Quest VI is still in development.
- Release Date: 16 September 2008
- Rating: E-10 (Everyone aged 10 and up)
- Publisher: Square-Enix
- Official Website: na.square-enix.com/dq4/