As January 28th came and went, I – like countless others in Japan – found myself at a local electronics store buying Dragon Quest VI, the latest [and currently, also the final] installment in Square Enix’s Dragon Quest DS remake series. Dragon Quest VI has a great deal of significance for me, in that (a.) it was the first game I ever imported at the time, and (b.) it stands as my favorite Dragon Quest game. Though I don’t get worked up about game releases anymore, there was still a bit of excitement turning on the DS and reliving my childhood. Fortunately things are just as I remembered…
For those who don’t know, Dragon Quest VI’s story centers around a plot device where the main characters are "cursed" and banished to a world parallel to their own. The quest will take you through both of these worlds and beyond. At the time this was the largest Dragon Quest game to date, as each world is unique both in terms of its design, overworld music, locations, and characters.
The DS remake stands as the first original Dragon Quest remake in almost six years. Both of the prior DS remakes were based upon already existing products, Dragon Quest IV for the PsOne and Dragon Quest V for the PS2, respectively. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie has been improved upon the game in every way.
In the original version of Dragon Quest VI, the characters moved a bit slower. Thankfully the remake uses the same movement speed as featured in the previous two DS ports. The end result is that time is better spent doing more productive things such as fighting rather than navigating.
The graphics have obviously been enhanced dramatically, though the game still uses the same engine and in many cases the same sprites as the previous two remakes. In truth, the only people who will appreciate the revised graphics are those who played the original. With that said, it’s worth mentioning that one of the main reasons Dragon Quest VI stood out on the Super Famicom was it’s (at the time) amazing graphics. The visual difference between DQV and DQVI was astonishing, perhaps equally as astonishing as the difference between DQVI and the Super Famicom remake of Dragon Quest III. Gamers new to this installment and those that played the prior two DS installments may not notice anything substantial as far as the visuals go.
The music is noticeably enhanced, with a more orchestrated rendition than that in the original game. Everything sounds fantastic, though personally I don’t care for some parts of the various track arrangements as the new tracks are sometimes a bit different in tune than the original Super Famicom-era sound files.
As with Dragon Quest IV and V for the DS, there are touch-based mini games. The first one you come across is Slime Curling, a slightly amusing little number wherein you need to rub the stylus across the screen to throw a Blue Slime to the goal. In the end however, the touch screen was once again relegated to being nothing more than a gimmick. I really have to ask why it is Enix/ArtePizazza couldn’t have tried for a system similar to Dragon Quest VI or even Chrono Trigger. I mean really, the touch screen is just perfect for the battles…
I have yet to see any new classes added to the game. The Dharma Shrine Class System remains just as it was in the original game. There are different categories of jobs, base level jobs (such as the Healer, the Soldier), advanced level jobs (such as the Battlemaster or Paladin) or ultimate jobs (such as Hero). Each job has a different number of required battles before it levels up and ultimately, before you master it. After mastering the prerequisite base jobs, you can then learn an advanced job, and after mastering the prerequisite advanced jobs, you can then learn an ultimate job. Note that in this game, unlike Dragon Quest III and IX, when you start a new job your character does not return to level 1.
Dragon Quest VI is a fantastic game, and this is indeed a fantastic remake. My only disappointment with Dragon Quest VI, if not the entire Nintendo DS Zenithia trilogy, is that it still feels a bit lazy. We all saw what Level 5 was able to do with Dragon Quest IX, so why did Square Enix take the easy way out and make a quasi-2D game when it could have made a proper 3D installment?
I think this is worth mentioning all the more in considering how many non-Dragon Quest fans bought Dragon Quest IX in light of the customization options and 3D graphics. Square Enix missed a prime opportunity to market Dragon Quest VI to them by using the very same elements that fostered the interest in Dragon Quest IX last year. And on a personal note, I can’t help but think back to the release of Dragon Quest VIII, and my thinking of how amazing it would have been for a Dragon Quest VI remake to look like that.