|Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen|
|Genre||By the book RPG|
|MtAMinutes to Action||1|
|Keep Playing?||Yes, if you like old school RPGs|
|Buy from Amazon|
Dragon Quest is one of the most popular gaming franchises in Japan, but it has always been in the shadow of other RPG series like Final Fantasy over here in the west. Square-Enix decided to see if they can rekindle some interest in the series putting the series on the DS, with remakes of IV and V already released, and VI and IX coming within the year in the States. While all eyes are on IX, let’s look back at the first Dragon Quest remake for the Nintendo DS, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen. Originally released on the NES, and then remade for the PlayStation, the DS version brings us new features, a new translation, touched up graphics, and two-screen goodness.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - The game asks me to choose my name and gender. Grant and boy, that was easy enough. A scene plays that tells me I’m in the prologue. I never read those in books, so why should I play them in games? A few flashes of light slash across the black screen, and the game fades into the scene. My character is on the ground and I’m asked if I’ve had enough by the guy who is apparently beating me. I say no defiantly, but the guy leaves. I can control my green-haired character now, and I open some nearby barrels for a seed of strength and a medicinal herb.
02 - I break open a few more things. When you examine a box or barrel in the game, it more or less explodes. Awesome. I take the stairs up and find myself outside, where a voice calls out for me. No time for that now, I have to break more things. I open up my inventory and use the seed of strength, which predictably increases my strength stat. As I cross a bridge, a frog jumps out and starts talking to me.
03 - The frog says he was cursed by a witch and then hops away. Sounds like a personal problem to me. I walk around the town and talk to a farmer, who says typical farmer things. The L and R buttons can rotate the camera, making the entire map spin. It’s very useful for seeing behind buildings. The field appears on both the top and the bottom screen, so my character’s scope of vision is quite large. I find the guy who was beating me and it turns out we were just training. And here I thought we were reenacting the Celes torture scene from Final Fantasy VI. He’s standing in front of a well, so I decide to climb down it. I hope it’s not like that well from Ocarina of Time.
04 - There’s nothing in the well, so I climb back out. I go into a building to find a guy resting. An old man wants to teach me a move called “sizzle” but he can’t since I suck or something. Another building has a family cooking dinner. The family tells me that someone named Eliza is looking for me. I hope she’s hot.
05 - I talk to some more NPCs and enter a few more buildings, nothing really special.
06 - The town exit I blocked and the guard says I am too weak to leave the confines of this ten-person village. I go back to the dungeon area, where I see the frog hopping away. I follow it and find a pink haired girl who introduces herself as Eliza.
07 - Eliza reveals that she is actually the frog and made up the witch story. She casts morph and turns into a bunny. She is apparently infatuated with things that hop. She of course runs away, so I head back to the cooking family’s house.
08 - I talk to the man of the house and he asks if I saw Eliza. I say yes, and coincidentally it’s now dinner time. The man tells me that one day I will explore the world and have adventures. Good, this would be a really boring game otherwise. A scene plays and it asks me to save the game. Seems like the real story is about to begin.
09 - I’m greeted by a screen that says “Chapter 1: Ragnar McRyan and the Case of the Missing Children.” I’m pretty sure Phoenix Wright had this case already. I’m taken to the Kingdom of Burland, where shockingly enough, children have gone missing. The king tells his knights to get to the bottom of this mystery, my character being one of the knights. The other knights have this cool blue armor, but mine is pink for some reason. I get control of my character, Ragnar, and talk to the king. Everyone here has incredibly strange accents. Either that, or the localization team for this game is terrible.
10 - I talk to more people in the castle. I can see one room that seems to be glowing, but the door is locked. This room is more interesting than a bunch of missing kids in my opinion, but maybe I will get access to it as a reward.
11 - I examine a bookshelf to find a book about the king. More exploring gives me a medicinal herb. I go upstairs and talk to a few more people before leaving the castle.
12 - I find the item and armor shop, but refrain from buying anything. Surely the developers won’t make me woefully underpowered in the first minutes of the game? I come across some barrels and steal their contents without remorse.
13 - Barrel busting continues. After walking around some more I find an inn.
14 - One lady I introduce myself to asks me to look for her husband. I take the obvious route and check in her house, but he’s gone. Maybe he left for a more exciting town. I find the weapon shop, but hold off hoping a magic sword is in a barrel somewhere.
15 - I come across a church that will cure illnesses or resurrect me for a price. That’s organized religion for you. I decide to invest my money in some healing herbs that I hope aren’t hallucinogenic. I can either hold on to them myself or put them in my bag. My character can’t hold many items, but I can use them in battle the herbs are shoved in his pockets.
16 - I can finally step foot into the vast overworld. My first battle is against two slimes that look like tear drops, the classic Dragon Quest enemy. I beat of them with one hit each, and they miss their only chance to inflict some damage. Sucks for them. I trek across some mountains and fight scissor beetles. One cool thing is that the background changes depending on if I’m in the plains or the mountains. I knock out one of the bugs.
17 - The other one goes down quickly enough. I stumble across a forest, and slimes attack me. But this time, it’s on a forest background so it’s different… kind of. I beat them, and my next battle is against two worm-like wiggles and another slime. I whomp the wiggles quickly.
18 - The slime goes immediately afterwards. What happens when I attack a slime with a sword? Does he have blood or is he just full of slime? Does he have organs? What are his eyes attached to? Hopefully these questions are answered in Dragon Quest IX. Anyways, I level up. I see a cave in the distance, but another scissor beetle and wiggle tries to impede my progress. They fail miserably.
19 - Inside the cave, I fight two more wiggles and use a healing herb after the battle. I pop open a nearby treasure chest that contains a healing herb, how convenient. Two more slimes come at me. I’m only twenty minutes in but I think I’ve fought a hundred of these things.
20 - I kill the two slimes who I can only assume are brothers, and find another person in the cave. I wonder what level he is. He tells me nothing or real importance, but beyond him is a treasure chest filled with 40 gold. I kill a slime and wiggle before I exit the cave.
21 - Off on the horizon is a Babelesque tower, but I’m not quite sure how I can get there. A battle against an air rat and a wiggle takes me up to level three. Just 97 more to go! I find a sign in the overworld that says I shouldn’t play in the woods. But I’m a grown knight with a mustache, so I ignore it. I find a town and head on in.
22 - I immediately see an item shop, but let’s see which items I can steal first. I find an herb in a barrel and take some plain clothes from a drawer in the inn. My pink armor is way cooler though.
23 - I sell the clothes (too bad for the owner) and talk to the townsfolk.
24 - I find a school, and here I thought all kids in RPGs were either monster fodder or went on adventures. One of the kidnapped children went here, and I read one of the books. I don’t have time for schoolin’ so I break a few more barrels and find more herbs.
25 - Everyone keeps talking about some guy that’s being held prisoner in the local jail, I assume this is a hint to go there. But first, I climb down a random well and find 25 gold coins.
26 - In jail, I talk to a man named Angus, who turns out to be the husband that woman was looking for. No wonder I couldn’t find him. I leave town and head for the probably mysterious woods.
27 - I fight some slimes, worms, and air bats on my way there.
28 - I’m a bit weak, so I head back for a previous town as it gets darker. In town, I talk to Angus’ wife and she joins me so I can bring her to her jailbird hubby.
30 - Awww, they finally reunite. They hint that I should go to the southeast forest, so off I go again.
31 - The forest is empty, and the only place to go is down an old well. When I get down there, a voice calls out to me. That can’t be good. I fight a mad mole and a winkster, which uses magic. Both of them do a lot of damage to Ragnar, I can tell the difficulty is about to randomly spike.
32 - I take them down and level up. As I head deeper into the cave underneath the well, the voice continues to call out to me. In the next battle I get jacked and die. I’m immediately warped back to church minus some cash.
33 - Now I’m back in the original town. Fortunately it didn’t revert back to my previous save, and I still have all my stats. I buy a hardwood headgear in order to give me a much needed defense boost. Try and kill me now, mole!
34 - I pounce the typical enemies on my journey back, but I come across a new enemy, a bubble slime, as well. Also, when fighting an air rat, one calls for reinforcements and more appear. More experience points for me!
35 - Ok, finally back in the well. Another new enemy appears, a healslime.
36 - I fight it, and it naturally heals itself almost every turn, how annoying. I finally beat it down and come across some magician doppelgangers called winksters.
37 - I beat them, even though their attacks are still pretty brutal. I also come across another heal slime. How about healing me?
38 - More healslimes! I manage to score a critical hit on one, which makes it go down in one strike. After the battle, the voice warns me that I’m going the wrong way. I assume the voice is evil, so I just ignore him. In the next room, a healslime is actually visible on the map and I see a treasure chest as well.
39 - I fight two healslimes at the same time. I think that brings me up to 1,000 slimes thus far.
40 - I cautiously approach the healslime on the map. He talks to me and says he wants to be human. Who doesn’t? His name is Healie (appropriate) and he joins my party. Maybe now I won’t have to rely on those herbs. I fight another mole and winkster.
41 - Healie attacks by himself, which I’m not a fan of, but the battle is noticeably easier.
42 - I fight a stump with a face called a stump chump and backtrack into… a dead end. Another winkster and mole attack.
43 - They’re dead. Winkster and healslime tag team is up next.
44 - Killed ‘em. Two more winksters.
45 - The voice bugs me yet again. In a treasure chest I find some shoes, and Healie says they may belong to the kidnapped kids. The plot thic-oh another battle against a winkster and healslime.
46 - Alright, they’re dead.
47 - The next chest has 580 gold in it, score. After another battle I level up, and my reward is a fight against two winksters.
48 - I beat them, and this time the healslime actually heals me. Thanks for saving me some herbs. My joy is short-lived as I continuously run into dead ends.
49 - I take down another mole and healslime as I explore the cave. I’m almost done with this place, right?
51 - More winksters, slimes, moles, you name it and I fought it.
52 - This time I run into three healslimes. They predictably heal until I kill them.
53 - I backtrack a bit and fall into a pit on accident. Luckily the pit has a ton of stuff like a seed of agility and life, which permanently boost my stats.
54 - I leave the cave and head back to the city. I’m not quite sure what I should do next though.
55 - I buy Iron Lance, which boosts my attack from 35 to 50. I also sell my old sword, if only healslimes could wield them.
56 - The new armor is too rich for my blood, so I head towards the tower. The shoes I found can fly, and I fly over the moat guarding the tower and go in.
57 - A brief scene shows a monster bringing a kid into the tower. I guess I’m going the right way. The new enemies I stumble across are a bodkin archer and two blinksters, which are like winksters on roids.
58 - They’re pretty strong, but I pull out a victory. There’s another person in the tower so I talk to him. How did he get here? Does he also have magical flying shoes? I fight another healslime and level up to 7.
59 - I find an item called a chimera wing which can warp me to other places, convenient I suppose. Although I predict this is the final area for this character, so I probably won’t need it. Another new enemy I fight is a splatypunk, which is like an evil platypus. And now the hour concludes.
Minutes to Action: 1
Hey, it’s an NES RPG! You have to really appreciate the simplicity of older RPGs. There are not battle gimmicks in Dragon Quest IV. You have a team, you select attacks, you move through towns, dungeons, forests, towers, mountains etc. until you finally defeat the evil whoever/whatever. After one hour, I’ve done a lot and fought a lot of battles. In many other RPGs, I’d still be in the first town or watching the opening cutscene.
Hey... it’s an NES RPG... While the straight-forward simplicity is appealing at times, the first hour of this game also reminded me how archaic those old NES RPGs were. Nonstop battles, random difficulty spikes, a general lack of information about what to do etc. Although it looks prettier than it did years ago, it still has many nagging issues that should have been fixed.
Would I keep playing? I’ve only explored a fraction of the game according to the world map, and the chapter system with different stories and protagonists in each one has me intrigued. I can see how a lot of people might be turned off by how slim the gameplay mechanics are, but the game looks like it’s leading into an epic and exciting adventure.