|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: ArtePiazza||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
July 29, 2008 - Four is a big number this year. In April we got Grand Theft Auto IV. Now, we've got the (fourth) release of Final Fantasy IV. And a little later this year, we'll get Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen on the Nintendo DS. It's yet another classic RPG that's being remade for the DS, and even with competition like FFIV on the market, it's shaping up to be a really solid role-playing title.
Those who played Dragon Quest IV when it originally released on the NES will likely remember the remarkable plot and storytelling techniques. Rather than focus on a single epic adventure, Chapters of the Chosen chronicles several smaller plot arcs and then ties them all together at the game's epic climax. Such story weaving may not be out of the ordinary these days, but back in the day it was something pretty groundbreaking. Expect the story to be filled with surprises, twists, and a cast of memorable characters.
The way this story concept is incorporated into the rest of the game is also quite cool, because each chapter of the game feels like a fully fleshed-out RPG on a smaller scale. Each chapter follows a fairly basic template: a problem arises, and a party of heroes comes to the rescue. Naturally, issues come up with quelling the problem, so the party is off on a quest to collect items, obtain equipment, and grow stronger as they attempt to defeat the evil threatening their way of life.
But in many ways, Chapters of the Chosen is a fairly basic, old-school RPG. You'll wander throughout dungeons fighting enemies and finding treasure. You'll also visit towns, purchase items, and talk to people to gain information on what to do next. It's a fairly typical mix of exploration, character-building, and lots of random battles. It doesn't do a whole lot in terms of advancing the genre (what do you expect from a remake?) but it's still definitely going to appeal to old-school gamers.
The combat mechanic is an important part of the game because much of your time with this title will surely be spent in battles. Again, it's a fairly basic concept and one that's not unfamiliar to anybody who has ever played a traditional RPG. It's entirely menu-based, and you'll cycle through your party issuing commands (although at some points early in the chapter some characters will be controlled automatically). Characters can attack, use magic or items, and a variety of other basic actions. There's a bit of strategy involved when it comes to what action makes most sense for each character each turn, but success is more reliant on your willingness to do a lot of leveling-up.
If you don't bother yourself with making your characters stronger, you're going to be in a lot of trouble as you try and progress further into the adventure. Dragon Quest IV is hardcore in every facet of the game, and that definitely includes difficulty. It's a tough game, and even minor enemy encounters can hurt you in a big way. Additionally, enemies will randomly land critical hits, which make battles even more dangerous. The battle system relies more on level and less on skill to win, so the only way to get around this problem is to spend lots of time leveling up. This is definitely going to be a turn-off for more casual players, but if you put in enough time, you're certainly going to be rewarded.
The one significant way in which Chapters of the Chosen is being updated is in the graphical department. Gone are the simplistic 2D sprites and bland, repetitive backgrounds. On the DS, they're replaced with really beautiful, lush visuals; characters and environments look great. In cities, the top screen will serve as a map, but in the field the game is going to span both screens. The game's music is also getting a needed update (but legendary composer Koichi Sugiyama is still in charge), so expect it to be even better than that of the original NES title.
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen is definitely not going to be for everybody. It doesn't innovate upon the RPG genre, nor does it do anything particularly fantastic with the DS. There's no touch screen support, and while the game looks great, there are certainly better-looking titles on the system. But at its core, Dragon Quest IV is going to be a really fun, challenging, old-school RPG. Hardcore fans of the series or genre definitely need to check this one out, and even daring modern-day RPG-lovers should keep an eye on Dragon Quest IV.
CCC Freelance Writer