Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
Unapologetically kickin' it old school.
Preview by Valerie Hilgenfeldt (Email)
July 21st 2008
I'd be hard pressed to point out a series that's evolved less than Dragon Quest, and my love for its same ol' same ol' has never diminished. While Final Fantasy panders to the mainstream with its pretty boys and fancy graphics, Dragon Quest taxes modern hardware with plain menus, text, two-dimensional sprites, and more text. Throw in its incredibly archaic battle system, and you've put together one of my favorite RPG series of all time.
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen's upcoming release couldn't come sooner for those owning a Nintendo DS and a strong hankering for classic Japanese RPGs. It updates DQ IV with features from its follow-ups, like the ability to control your extra party members in the game's latter quarter. It's also borrowed a spiffied-up graphics engine from the PlayStation's Dragon Quest VII, which provides pleasing, vividly-colored play fields for adventurers to romp through. Your view has been spread vertically over the two DS screens, but that expanded vista is optional in towns, where hard-headed traditionalists can get by with the bottom one alone.
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen's upcoming release couldn't come sooner for those owning a Nintendo DS and a strong hankering for classic Japanese RPGs.
However, battles will call your attention to both, since the portraits and stats for your party members were smartly moved to the top screen. This gives the player an uncluttered, clean view of the nicely animated 2D enemy sprites and the wondrously pixelated backgrounds they're set against. Sadly, the spells and special attacks didn't produce any magnificently animated effects – Dragon Quest VIII has spoiled me there – but I'd only played for a short while with low-level characters. There's a chance I'll be amazed in the future with a row of fireballs or a series of lightning bolts, and that's something to look forward to!
We can rest easy knowing that the touch screen won't be used for anything, which fits a game of its deliberately simplistic caliber. Drawing silly runes to cast Zap or tapping to pull people around town would've stunk with the odor of gimmicky modernity. Thank you, Square-Enix, for saving us from that smelliness. And thank you as well for deigning to add Dragon Quest to the franchises you'll endlessly milk, despite the fact that it doesn't outsell Final Fantasy abroad (pointing at precisely what's wrong with the world). Old school RPGers and slime-lovers everywhere will forever be in your debt.