With Dragon Quest IX coming out this summer, what better way to whet your appetite for this game than by checking out a couple of the Dragon Quest games available on the Nintendo DS. Today, I'm going to touch on Dragon Quest IV. This is a remake of the fourth Dragon Quest game in the series that was originally released on the NES back when the franchise in North America was known as Dragon Warrior in 1992.
In this installment of Dragon Quest, the game is divided up into five chapters. In the first four chapters, you play as one, two, or three characters that engage in a minor quest that ties into the main plot. The characters range from a solider sent out to find missing children, a princess who wants to prove she's strong whose accompanied by a wizard and a priest, a merchant who wants to start his own shop, and a fortune teller and dancer who are twins seeking out the man who murdered their father. When you reach the fifth chapter, you play as the hero who meets up with all the characters you met in the first four chapters and engage in the main plot that occurs in every Dragon Quest game: find and defeat the demonlord.
In this game, the demonlord goes by the name of Psaro. Unlike the demonlords in most of the other Dragon Quest games (I'm going with most because I haven't played Dragon Quest 6 and 8), this one has a lot of character development. He's more of a misguided individual who has a grudge against the human race and makes an alliance with the monster race. This particular demonlord makes you feel sorry for him despite him doing something horrible to the hero at the start of chapter five (I won't spoil what that is).
There are some differences from the NES version that are present in the DS version. I could write a novella discussing this but I'll only focus on a few differences instead. The most obvious differences are the graphics have been updated (the graphics resemble Dragon Warrior VII on the Playstation) and games move a lot faster than the original version. What I mean by faster is the usual random battles you engage seems to move lightning quick and you have a better idea of where you're going in a dungeon because you can see the layout on both of the screens on the DS.
The game has a new translation that no longer contains that stiff "ye olde English" that was prevalent in the NES Dragon Quest games. The translators attempted to make the world you're exploring much bigger than it seems by giving people accents. I recall reading something similar was done in the original versions with characters speaking in different dialects found throughout Japan.
You now have a bottomless bag you can carry with you. In the NES Dragon Quest games, each character can only carry eight items. While that is still true in this game, you can now put all items that you don't need into the bottomless bag instead of dropping it off at a bank. In addition, you can now carry 99 of each item that can accessed anytime outside of battle. In a way, you can argue that makes the game easier, especially if you know a certain trick to have a lot of money on hand in chapter five involving the merchant.
There is one thing about this game that irked me in the NES version that the developers fixed in this version. In the NES version, when you reach chapter five, you can only control the hero and your companions are controlled by the computer. You have some flexibility over what you can have them with tactics like "Don't use MP" but your companions will still do stupid things despite that. The most infamous example I can offer is the priest, Christo (known as Kiryl in the DS version), who uses his instant death spells on everything that moves on almost every tactic. In this version, the characters won't cast spells on monsters that's immune to them so Kiryl will at least stop casting the instant death spell on the bosses. In addition, you can now alternate between doing auto-battle with your companions and giving them manual commands so you can finally get Kiryl to use the spell to boost defense when you want him too.
One last difference that I'll touch on is the post-game content. In the NES version, after you defeated the demonlord, the game is done. In this version, the game throws another dungeon at you with monsters and a couple of bosses that are more difficult than the ones you encountered in the main game. This is a tradition that started with Dragon Quest V back on the Super Famicom. In fact, the bulk of the multiplayer quests in Dragon Quest 9 coming out this summer involve post-game quests (at least as far as I know).
Overall, I would recommend seeking out a copy of Dragon Quest IV. If there are any flaws with the game that I can think of, it's this game having little to no replay value (especially compared to Dragon Quest V for the DS, which I'll cover another time). I want to conclude this post with a trailer for Dragon Quest IV that I find amusing (I'll leave it to you to figure out what's so amusing about it):