Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-12-04 Nintendo DS RPG E10 (Everyone 10+) Square Enix / Arte Piazza

Dragon Quest IV was initially released for the Famicon, then later on for the NES in North America. A remake for the PlayStation followed, but never left Japan. Expanding on their Nintendo DS remakes of older titles, Square Enix now brings us Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen.

Chapters of the Chosen, as the title states, is separated into a series of chapters, each with an individual story. These stories play separately from all the others, but everything eventually comes together closer to the end.

You play the hero briefly in the Prologue, a small introduction to get you acquainted to the game and where you can explore your village. In Chapter One, you follow a royal guard on a quest to find the town's missing children. In Chapter Two, Princess Alena sets out to prove her strength to her father. In Chapter Three, a merchant searches for legendary weapons, while in Chapter Four, a dancer and a fortuneteller attempt to avenge their father's death. All these stories tell you about the motives of your future companions and gives you some information about the main villain as well. You only actually play and develop the hero in Chapter Five.

The gameplay revolves around turn-based fights, a trademark of RPGs. Your party can have up to four active members in battle, but everyone will get the same amount of experience. You issue basic commands from the menu, such as attack, use magic or item, but unfortunately this is all done via the D-pad and buttons. The game offers no use for the stylus whatsoever, which is a shame. You could have at least used it to move your characters around the map and tap through menus.

While simplistic in appearance, this isn't a game you can just breeze through. The battles offer quite a challenge and your spells are definitely your friends - especially protective ones. You might have trouble with certain bosses, which usually means go back and level up some more, which in turn can become a problem with less patient gamers.

Fortunately, the absence of victory animations or elaborated battle sequences/special attacks (yes, Final Fantasy, I am looking at you) make the battles go by quicker.

The overall presentation is quite nice, with colorful 2D sprites animated in 3D environments. The NPCs from towns in different areas in the world map will have specific accents to that area, and you will notice that in the dialogs in the form of alternative spelling, since there is no voice acting.

The dual screens are used to display larger areas in towns or dungeons, although the gap in between them can throw you off for a short while. While on the world map, the area map is displayed on the top screen while your party moves around on the touch screen. During a battle, your party members' status is displayed on the top screen, while the actual battle takes place on the touch screen.

As far as sound goes, while the initial orchestrated theme from the opening will blow you away, the rest of the game presents a series of midi tunes. While the background music for towns and battles changes for each chapter, almost all towns and dungeons will share the same melodies.

Although the game is presented in different chapters and you follow the stories of several characters, the plots are never too deep and there isn't much in terms of character development. In typical RPG stereotype, the main character doesn't speak, and usually this is counteracted by having supporting characters talk your ear off... but that doesn't happen here. Once the entire cast is brought together, there isn't much dialog between them either.

While this remake doesn't have the same level of technical upgrades that the latest Final Fantasy remakes have had and still looks a bit dated, and while the touch screen ability seems to have been put aside entirely for unknown reasons, the chapter format with brief stories and quick save option makes it a very handy title to have for RPGing on the go, and there's the added bonus of an extra chapter once you beat the game.

Imperfections aside, Chapters of the Chosen is still a fairly good J-RPG and remains faithful to the Dragon Quest series.

Special thanks to Klee Kuo and Square Enix for providing a copy of this title.