Basic Idea: Rescue missing children, help a princess become a warrior, run your own shop(!), rescue the father of a fortuneteller and a stripper, and if you have time, save the world.
Review: A rare and mostly forgotten game in the NES library, Dragon Warrior IV should not be ignored by fans of classic RPGs. While, like its predecessors, it remains underwhelming in the graphics and music department, it more than makes up for it with a tight, epic story.
The game is incredibly long, straining the memory capacity of the system. There are five separate chapters to the game. The first four, where we meet (and plays as) all of the ancillary characters, is close to the length of Final Fantasy. The fifth story is where the game really opens up, slowly merging all of the stories together while starting you on a rewarding journey. While there are more in-depth characters in future RPGs, this is easily the most impressive story line in an RPG for this system. There are also some rewarding sidequests that don’t dominate the main story.
One significant change from Dragon Warrior III is that once the game merges, you only fight with one character. With your other party members, you must assign general tactics (e.g. aggressive, defensive, conserve magic) and the A.I. takes over the rest. At first, this annoyed me, but I came to enjoy this change immensely. The A.I. does what I would have done 90% of the time, and can actually respond quicker to healing needs than I can. It also negates the need for endless menu scrolling during battle, making them quicker, less tiring. And, unlike previous games, there is little need for endless level-building as long as you don’t run away from most enemies.
One aspect of the game I always loved (which was in the previous game as well) is the monster pit where you can wager on which monster will win in a face-to-face battle. Nothing like betting on the slime to beat two more powerful monster at 80:1 odds and somehow coming out victorious. This game also adds a casino where you can gamble your hard-earned gold as well. Unlike the last game, the purpose here is not to win more gold, but to win tickets in order to purchase some rare, exceptional items. They’re not necessary to win the game, but can be a fun diversion.
Despite this game being ranked #2 on my list, there is no need to play this version of the game. Find it on the Nintendo DS under the title Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen. It markedly improves the graphics, music, and interface while leaving all of the great parts fully intact.