Dragon Quest IV: The Chapters of the Chosen (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 25.10.2008

Review for Dragon Quest IV: The Chapters of the Chosen on Nintendo DS

The Dragon Quest series has never really been given much of a chance over in Europe, with the main entries into the franchise failing to ever appear in this territory and the only game to materialise was Dragon Quest Monsters, published by Eidos on the GBC back in 1999. Until recently, that is, when Dragon Quest VIII was unleashed on PS2 and showed the RPG could indeed reach the mass market. Now the final NES version, Dragon Quest IV, has been remade on the DS, does it deserve to tap into the same audience that lapped up Square Enix’s previous role-playing releases over here?

The first entry into the Zenithia Trilogy sees adventurers travelling through the Dragon Quest universe created by Yuji Horii, taking on the role of four different ‘Chosen Ones’ and working their way through each character’s respective chapter before heading into the final throes of battle to save the day and unravel the ancient mystery behind the cursed kingdom, with you as the key to bringing down the evil that threatens to cause complete havoc throughout the world. It may sound like an extremely basic premise, but the amount of background story and character development throughout helps to grip the player right through to the very end, and the break down into chapter format makes what is actually an extremely long adventure far more palatable, keeping gamers' attention throughout as they constantly want to learn more.

Some will take one look at Chapters of the Chosen and instantly dismiss it as being far too ‘old school’ for their tastes, and yet in doing so they will certainly be missing out on one of the most engrossing RPG experiences found not only on the DS, but in the genre as a whole. Aesthetically the world is portrayed in glorious 3D, complete with luscious locations and a very useful camera that users can rotate to their heart’s desire. The actual characters themselves, though, are merely 2D sprites dropped into the world, with the two dimensional, hand-drawn approach being taken for all battle scenarios as well. Yet the style still exudes a certain charm, with the 2D and 3D mixing together more than adequately, resulting in this being one of the more attractive games on the market right now. As for the soundtrack, the fully orchestrated tunes played during the journey are so memorable, chirpy, moving and emotion-filled that you will be hard-pressed to find a DS game with a better collection of music. Those that have played Nanashi no Game will also recognise a tune much later in the game that is clearly the basis of the haunting 8-bit tune featured in the first-person horror game…

The way everything works is just like the RPGs of old, with players taking control of the main character, directing them around the world and through various towns and dungeons as the journey progresses. Within towns the aim is normally to spend whatever money you have accrued so far on the right equipment to strengthen your valiant warriors, revive them when fallen (done at churches via paying a priest no less!), restore their energy by resting at inns or obtain new objectives from specific town dwellers, as well as deliver vital objects to said people. Upon venturing out into the big, wide world, or delving deep in dungeons, caves and similar places, the all-too-familiar random battle scenario kicks in, with enemy encounters occurring after a few steps. The team is then thrown into turn-based fighting, whereby each member of your group is given a user-defined command (Attack, Magic, Use Item, Defend, Escape) that is carried out one after the other (dependant on stats such as ‘Speed’, which can determine the order of who does what when), before the enemy group(s) then gets its turn.

European gamers will be coming into the world of Dragon Quest IV completely fresh, unless they were in the minority that imported either the NES original or PSone remake, and considering this territory missed out on many RPG greats in the past, the battle mechanic may seem dated (players cannot simply hold ‘A’ to flick through the same command as in the GBA Final Fantasy ports, for instance). However, things have been touched up by developer Artepiazza (who previously worked with Square Enix on the PSone remake of this Dragon quest game, as well as the PS2 remake of Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, which is coming to Europe next year on DS), with new battle animations for enemies and the ability to simply check anything by pressing the ‘A’ button, instead of going through a menu each time as in the NES version. In fact, the whole script has been re-written in places and tweaked in others to make it the superlative edition, coming complete with comical takes on thirteen different accents from around the world (Russian and Scottish being two examples, the rest are fun to try and guess as you play along!). One odd omission is the lack of touch-screen support for anything, even the menu system. It does not detract from the proceedings, though, since it probably would have been a chore to control the characters using face buttons and the D-Pad, then have to scrabble around and pull out the stylus just for menu sections.

This is by no means a remake on the scale of the recent Final Fantasy III and IV DS versions, but Enix’s Dragon Quest has always taken a different slant from the Squaresoft-driven Final Fantasy series and this holds true to its roots, which definitely adds to its overall charm and goes a long way to make the experience so engrossing, with players tending to focus more on the intricate story development, becoming immersed in the world created by Yuji Horii.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest IV: The Chapters of the Chosen on Nintendo DS

Being on an older generation, Dragon Quest IV encounters the age-old bugbear of many – grinding. There will be points in the game where if you have not bothered to work your team up to a specific level and have yet to purchase the latest armour and weapons, you will most certainly face defeat on a regular basis. Thankfully, though, again partly due to the bite-sized first four chapters, getting enough experience does not become too tiresome. Plus, once you get to a later stage and the Hero scours the world to gather all the Chosen Ones together, the combined strength of all team members will be sufficient to despatch several enemies on the trot with the greatest of ease, whilst still accruing decent amounts of experience points and money. Despite being based on such an old formula, Dragon Quest IV certainly won this reviewer over, and considering how the old NES games never appealed previously, despite having a love of the RPG genre in general, is testament to how well Chapters of the Chosen has been revised for the new generation. Those looking for a Final Fantasy DS scale remake may well be disappointed, but anyone with an appreciation for a fantastic soundtrack, a riveting story and plenty of challenges along the road should most definitely put this on their ‘DS Games to Consider’ list. RPG fans just got treated to something extra special…

Screenshot for Dragon Quest IV: The Chapters of the Chosen on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Dragon Quest IV may not have the glitz or the glamour of the Final Fantasy DS remakes, but the impressive combination of 3D game engine and 2D character sprites, unforgettable soundtrack, immense challenge and storyline that keeps you wanting more, all makes Chapters of the Chosen one of the best RPG experiences on Nintendo’s portable so far and certainly a game that Europeans should not miss out on after not receiving the NES original or PSone remake. Third time is definitely the charm…


Armour Project


Square Enix


Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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