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E3 2008: Dragon Quest IV Hands-On Impressions

A DS remake approaches. Command?


It has been so many years that it's hard to remember we've actually seen Dragon Quest IV on these shores before; the game was released as Dragon Warrior IV on the NES in 1992. This was right around the time that the series fell off the map in the US, and it wasn't until Dragon Quest VII that things got back on track. Now we're finally starting to see some of the series library trickle into domestic release, and the Dragon Quest IV remake has arrived on the DS. We took a quick tour of the game on the E3 show floor to see how the English-language release is shaping up.

The story of Dragon Quest IV follows a rather unorthodox route. The first several chapters of the game feature the characters who will ultimately become companions of the hero, who joins the fray only toward the latter end of things. The knight Ragnar, the princess Alena, the magician Borya, the priest Kiryl, the merchant Torneko and the twins Maya and Meena all have their own piece of the story to experience, everything weaving into a central tale.

Visually, the game benefits from the full remake treatment. The backgrounds are equipped with real depth and color, the world map is spruced up, and the sprites are not the NES blockheads of yesteryear any longer. They've got lots of fine detail and look just spiffy, and the monsters don't look too shabby either. Each monster also has a few short animations that they'll show off during battle, and each paw swipe and sword swing looks smooth. Enemies and such are displayed on the touch screen during battle, while the top screen is used to display character information, such as their health, which enemy each character is attacking, and available magic points.

Everything seems to be in place for a nice little old-school role-playing romp on the Nintendo DS. If you just can't wait to join Torneko and the gang, don't fret: Dragon Quest IV is scheduled to be released in September of this year. The slimes cometh.

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