Preview: Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
Regarded by many as the finest 8bit Japanese RPG, Dragon Quest IV has always fought against circumstance to find a western audience. Released in the US in 1992, two years after its Japanese debut, it was unfairly overshadowed by the first Super Nintendo RPGs while the company porting the game for a PlayStation remake dissolved before its work on a translated version was finished. This forthcoming DS reimagining aims to bring Yuji Nori’s classic to a much wider English-speaking audience, while also breaking some ground ahead of Dragon Quest IX’s titanic arrival.
Dragon Quest IV’s story enjoys an unusually sophisticated structure. Broken into six distinct chapters (a new one added for this remake), each is played with a different character, with the final two chapters drawing together all of the narrative threads into a tidy knot. The early chapters introduce and flesh out the back-stories of each of the companions who will make up the lead protagonist’s squad, a warrior who doesn’t make an appearance until much later into the game. It’s an interesting premise and one that’s filled by a rich and colourful cast of characters who sport a broad range of dialects and (written) accents.
In addition to the traditional Dragon Quest characteristics, the update promises a raft of new features including a range of minigames accessed via a casino and many subtle tweaks to smooth over the form and function of the aged original. That said, genre staples of the time remain intact with a high rate of random battles and a tough difficulty level that requires focused grinding. The Dragon Quest series, finally securing releases in Europe, has been steadily winning converts with its more lighthearted and colourful approach to the Final Fantasy series, a trend that looks likely to continue.