Journeying in Dragon Quest IV

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Dragon Quest games tend to have this sense of satisfaction and enjoyment in them that has made each and every installment of the main game's very enjoyable. Though they are a bit lengthy in totality, Dragon Quest games always tend to focus on the journey one takes from point A to point B rather than making the destination itself the main focus of the game. Dragon Quest IV, originally released on the NES and later remade for the PSOne in Japan only, follows this same tradition of fighting, journeying, and enjoying many laughs along the way. For a port on the DS, Dragon Quest IV manages to live up to the same experience found in the PSOne import version. Of course, now you can take this adventure with you on the go and devote yourself to a lengthy journey while on the road, in your bed, or elsewhere!

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dq4c.jpgThose of you who've already played the NES version or import PSOne remake might be familiar with how Dragon Quest IV introduces the heroes; but for those of you who weren't fortunate enough to play the game at all, Dragon Quest IV's heroes are all introduced in chapters of their own, each chapter focusing on who the character is, what he/she is all about, and what their dreams and goals are and how they want to achieve them. Of course you might wonder why your asked to play separate chapters for each hero and even think its a bad thing, but the chapter set up for each hero is perhaps the most touching aspect of the entire game.


Rather than characters developing along the way of a journey in most traditional RPGs, each of the chapters for the heroes gives you more than enough insight to care enough about them. Truth be told, its a formula that works very well because once the heroes meet up with the main hero, the journey really begins without having to dive a lot into the psyche of your party members. Though it may be somewhat predictable as to what events will unfold and how your characters will unite together for a common cause, the introductory chapters are very well executed. Each of the heroes' respectable chapters allows you to level them up and give them some good equipment and stash a decent amount of gold prior to the eventual meet up with the main hero. 


dq4b.jpgAside from the series' staple defining emphasis on the journey and the various exchanges of humorous dialogue between the cast of characters, the DS version of Dragon Quest IV sticks true to the way battles were held prior to Dragon Quest VIII. Again, if you played the NES version or PSOne import only remake you know what I'm talking about; but for the uninitiated or uninformed, Dragon Quest titles prior to VIII always had their battle interface in first person view with only attack and magic spell animations appearing on the field as an indication of your party members performing actions. Enemies, however, are totally animated and can appear in groups of two, three, or four or just by themselves, giving you a pretty good challenge in regular encounters if you aren't leveled enough. 


What is a Dragon Quest game without the need to grind? Grinding has been a staple of the series for a long time; and while its very possible to get through challenges without being at an average level or a little too high, you tend to make things a bit more difficult for yourself if you just feed your party the wolves. Grinding in Dragon Quest IV is no different from grinding in the series' previous and current entries; you grind to be able to ward off powerful attacks from enemies and have a good chance of staying alive in battle and defeating enemies. At the same time, grinding also allows you to keep things in a balance of sorts between you and the enemy, making whatever difficulties you may have in battle a victim of decisions rather than a statistical problem. Many people may be turned off from the need to grind at various points in the game just to stand a chance in battle, but that's what Dragon Quest is really. What good is a journey if everything along the way were easy and light with no difficulties whatsoever?


dq4d.jpgEverything else from the PSOne import version is clearly visible in this DS port with the top screen of the DS Lite serving as both an extension to towns and dungeons and a world map. The graphics are a nice 2D in a 3D environment with the player being able to manipulate angles of the in-game camera with the L or R buttons, and the sounds in the game are very typical of a Dragon Quest game with their easy, pleasing to the ears melodic beats. While the game's length is almost typical of a Dragon Quest game (40+ hrs), Dragon Quest IV offers many sidequests to take up; and its most famous sidequest is the Immigrant Town where you have the chance to populate a desolate village with people from various parts of the world. This sidequest in itself is very fun and manages to take up a large chunk of your time because of how far you actually end up going to get immigrants to live in the city. 


Of course not much can really be said about Dragon Quest IV that hasn't already been said about previous installments in the series. By now most of you already know that Dragon Quest IV also houses a broken English translation made accessible only through the use of an Action Replay; but regardless of whether or not the game sees a U.S. release, Dragon Quest IV is one of those titles that manages to stand well against the test of time. Even if grinding isn't your cup of tea or you dislike lengthy adventures, Dragon Quest IV is worth admission into your current collection of handheld RPGs. It'll give you the time consumption you want and the fun you seek.

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Former Siliconera staff writer who enjoys JRPGs.