In Japan you can forget Street Fighter, Sonic, and Super Mario. Dragon Quest role-playing games are responsible for kids skipping school and breaking into stores just to get their hands on the latest DQ game. A new law forbids Enix of Japan from selling Dragon Quest games on any day but Sunday!
The role-playing craze hasn't reached full bloom Stateside, but the American versions (renamed Dragon Warriors I-III) are still among the chart-topping fantasy adventures ‘round these parts. Enix's Dragon Warrior IV is a great, if predictable, sequel in the U.S. NES series. It has definitely taken a few lessons in self-improvement over its forbearers, but it also goes nowhere new in other areas.
Yes and no. Right off, you'll notice Dragon Warrior IV looks and sounds like its progenitors, which isn't saying much. The overhead-view graphics and character pix are functional, but blocky, blase, and balloony. The combat scenes are first-person perspective looks at still enemy shots against black, nondescript backgrounds. All in all, these are average visuals for an RPG. The upbeat, Romper Roomish music during the Walkabout mode, and the slightly scary battle songs are equally underwhelming. Some of the tracks are lifted directly from previous Dragon Warriors!
On the game play side of the equation, there's better news. Like most good RPGs, the game still emphasizes item- gathering, monster-stomping, and level- building. Now, the game also offers more complex character development and a deeper story line. Your four-person party can include yourself, people you meet, and even friendly monsters. You control some of the characters in the party. Other characters have minds of their own!
New Chapters, Old Enemy
A unique, compelling aspect about DW IV's plot is the five-chapter breakdown. The first four chapters are individual tales of folks in peril. In each tale, you command a different cast of characters and solve a quest. In the meantime, the villainous Necro-saro boss monster is watching, waiting, and licking his many demonic teeth.
PrTip: Ignore the voices you hear at the bottom of the well in Chapter I. Instead, search everywhere to uncover 500 gold pieces. Find and talk to the slime creature and he'll join your team!
The Chapter stories are straightforward, but interesting. You must rescue kidnapped children in Chapter 1, guide a young Princess to freedom from an overbearing father in Chapter 2, bring fame and fortune to an Arms Merchant in Chapter 3, and avenge a loved father's death in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5, all of your characters assemble into one massive fighting force to slay the hated demon! Once you reach Chapter 5, you haul this massive ten-person team in a wagon and choose four of the active characters.
- Only use the flying Shoes while you're outdoors.
- To escape take a leap of faith off the top of Loch Tower.
Don't expect plot connections to the previous Dragon Warrior games. Newcomers can jump right in without hesitation, but old-timers might be disappointed that there's no continuity of story from one game to the next. The game's challenging and quite long. Fortunately it's also battery backed.
Never, ever, press Reset while entering your name. You'll risk erasing a previous Log Entry.
Interfacing with the game is less painful than a sword in the gut. In fact, it's quite easy. An options screen enables you to alter the game's message speed to suit your tastes. The dialogue, combat and spell-casting systems move along without breakdowns. You can swap items among characters, rearrange the marching order, and equip weapons with minimal button presses.
Combat's definitely not a joy to behold, and it's repeated over and over throughout the game. However, a great nonstandard feature found only in Chapter 5 is player-selectable battle tactics. You choose from six different strategies to arm your warriors. Here's where this game's Artificial Intelligence (Al) does its duty. Your team's Al automatically learns from its mistakes and remembers its lessons in the next round!
Don't waste Medical Herbs while Healie's on your team. He'll cast healing spells after major hits.
A Dragon Delight
It's no surprise to hard-core Dragon Warriors that number IV looks and sound like lizard stew. On the plus side, the fairly exciting story line, new cast of characters, battle tactics feature, and massive length make it an excellent concoction experienced NES role-gamers. Definitely digest Dragon Warrior IV and look forward to its forthcoming 16-bit sequel.
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Released in May 27, 1986, this game promised to be a good start to RPGs. Gameplay may be old (EX: To go down stairs press A and select stairs) but it was a great game anyway.