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TGS '07: Dragon Quest IV Hands-On

The classic DQ game is getting a dual-screen remake, and we've got a first look.


TOKYO--A cellar, a village, and a shape-shifting girl. All were elements we encountered in our all-too-brief hands-on time with the Nintendo DS's Dragon Quest IV, which is a remake of the original PlayStation game. Square-Enix was showing off the game at its booth on the floor of the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, and we found that, language barrier aside, the game seems to be coming along just fine on the DS.

There were two different parts of the game to play in the floor demo. The first was seemingly the very start of the story; the second featured a party of four characters to control in battle. We started out with the solo adventure, which opens in what appears to be a cellar of some kind. Our hero begins by speaking with another character before eventually making his way aboveground, but not before breaking all of the jars and barrels in the cellar while looking for hidden goodies. Once topside, we began exploring the area surrounding the cellar entrance. We then came upon a bridge and encountered, of all things, a talking frog.

After a brief dialogue with the frog, we followed it back into the cellar, where we found that the amphibian had suddenly become a girl--a girl who was able to shift her form apparently at will, changing from human form to frog, and even transforming into a rabbit at one point. After some more dialogue we headed upstairs, crossed the bridge, and entered a village. We spoke with a few non-player characters around town, and then the scene suddenly shifted to the court of the local king, where a royal was addressing some troops on hand.

Once the troops were dismissed to do their military thing, we took control of a man-at-arms of sorts, and immediately left town looking for action. After a bit of exploring to the north of the starting castle, we ran into a few random encounters and got a brief taste of Dragon Quest IV's combat. It's remarkably straightforward, especially when using a hack-and-slash knight--you simply choose the sword icon and watch as he makes mincemeat of his foes. Later, when we tried the four-member party, combat became slightly more complex because you had more options for choosing different attacks, such as spells.

After taking our man-at-arms into a nearby cave, we got a chance to try a few more random encounters, and even unearth some treasure along the way. None of the battles we faced, whether solo or in the group, were that difficult. However, we suspect that, like any role-playing game worth its salt, the game will prove otherwise in its full and final version. There didn't seem to be much in the way of touch-screen action yet--all of the commands we needed could be executed with the buttons--and the top screen was typically used to show more of the environment when exploring areas like the cave.

Our appreciation of Dragon Quest IV for the DS was limited by the plentiful Japanese dialogue that cropped up early and often. Still, when it comes to controls, DQIV on the DS seems like it's another easy-to-pick-up game that will likely have loads of the kind of depth and fun the series has come to be known for. Assuming the game is heading to American shores at some point, we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for more in the future.

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