Save the world from scaldy monsters? I will in me hole

dq4

Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (1990)

Accents are a weird and wonderful thing. What I can never get over is how you only need to book it down the road before your own homely accent becomes strange and foreign – I’ve read before that in the UK, there’s an entirely different accent every 25km. So you’ll be going on your usual Sunday morning half-marathon, and then suddenly you find yourself surrounded by people speaking in this alien creole. And it’s a linguistic rule, perhaps written on an Ogham stone somewhere, that says “where there be accents, there be slang”.

And that’s where things get properly confusing. Ireland may be a small place, and the less well-off areas of Dublin even smaller. But if you asked me to do something I didn’t want to do, and I replied to with “grup-ourra-dah”, what on earth would you believe? What’s the answer?

You’d think there was something wrong with me and treat me very gently from then on. I’d then tell you, apologies, I was speaking at a hundred miles an hour and actually what I meant to say was ‘get up out of that’. But that hardly makes it any easier, does it? Nor does “grup the yard”, “go on out of that” or “I will in me hole”.

What does tend to get understood, and something I’ve been asked to say I don’t know how many times, is “thirty-three and a third”. But no, of course, it’s turty-tree and a turd. That’s embarrassing enough, but then you get down to the country, the fine auld bog of Ireland, and people are calling girls “beors”, and referring to kissing as “getting the shift”, or worse, “getting the wear”. They even talk about something called “spuds and cabbage”. It gets pretty intimidating when you don’t understand what’s being said.

Och, thit wis often the case wae Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Ay The Chosen, win it made its debut oan DS. Thur hadnae bin a release ay the game in Europe up until that point, so it wis high time they remade the final Dragon Warrior game thit hit the NES. Huving it oan two screens doesnae mean much, only thit you huv a bit ay a wider field of view ay the surroonding area so ye ken which dungeon coarridors ye kin go down withoot upsetting the encounter rate.

The dungeons ur still wee small, since this is actually a pretty faithful conversion ay the NES game. Actually, mair accurately, it’s a faithful port ay a PS1 conversion which we never received. And to the NES original’s immense credit, the DS version disnae feel tae dated. It’s goat yir typical Dragon Quest lack ay ambition, of course, bit it’s not stone age stuff either.

Chapters in game’s subtitle is referring to different characters you will playing as; you will see their origin stories. For sure, is exciting to watch how all people come together before meeting Hero. Game will walk you through different archetypes of Dragon Quest characters – dumb muscle fighters, fragile magicians, even jester from Dragon Quest III. You will train party members up from Level 1 every new chapter, but levels carry over to main game, so even when you leave character behind, roughly will be at same standard when all brought back together again.

But, bozhe moi, what was of all funniest was different accents given to every character. Was not appreciated by everybody, but gives you all more reason to actually speak to nutters and psikhi that inhabit towns of Dragon Quest. Towns in game always seem to have one third mad people, one third people who actually give hints, and last third is arm dealers and church.

De chapter gameplay takes up most of de game, so much so dat by de time you come back round to bringing de Hero into de fold, it’s almost disappointin’. Yer man’s a blank slate, aldough he doesn’t have to be a fella, it can be a young wan as well. Dere’s no Party Chat in de DS version of the game, so you won’t see any dialogue from yer party members after dat point.

So in dat case, ye’re actually controllin’ eight blank slates, which is a feckin’ shame because dey’re perfectly capable of speakin’, but only if dey aren’t in yer party. Dat’s a feature for Party Chat, and you can get Party Chat on de mobile version of de game. But I amn’t a Japanese workaholic and nor am I a sexual deviant (says I), so no way I was goin’ down dat route.

Mais, I am a fan of ze chapter-based gameplay and ‘ow it all comes togezzer. On my current mission to make it to ze end of all ze Dragon Quest games, and in order too, Dragon Quest IV is ze ‘ighlight for me so far. For ze most part it’s perfectly playable sans guide, and I find ze soundtrack quite nice as well. You ‘ave several different party members, wiz some very memorable designs and styles, so zere is a bit of strategy involved in battles.

Ze Final Boss is still just un smidgen (bof…) too ‘ard, but zat’s what you want, n’est-ce pas? Overall, ze general difficulty is quite manageable and ze grind is definitely getting less and less. Ze re-releases also bring a sixth Chapter to proceedings, which I ‘ardly touched, but you get an additional party member, more story, more cause to level up, and yes, more raison de jouer. Zere’s a new final boss in zere too, alzough it is a foe you ‘ave already killed.

Now is the part you’ve been waiting for – no, not my verdict of the game, but the moment I’d finally dispense with the butchered attempts at accents. Well, look here, anything I write down is ridiculous per se, so what’s a few borderline offensive accents? Anyway, modern day Dragon Quest is all about bumping into strange characters with quirky personalities, not to mention a million puns both large and small. In between all that, there’s thousands of battles to get through – your A button will take a hammering, that’s for sure. Chalk that up as another reason not to play on mobile.

I’d definitely put Dragon Quest IV high up on the list if you’re looking for an easy way into the series, especially if you wanted to start with an earlier instalment. I’d actually put it higher than Dragon Quest III in that regard. Now, you might know that only three things offend the Japanese: not bowing correctly; having the wrong blood type; and suggesting in any way, shape or form that Dragon Quest III isn’t the second coming of God.

I also score the DQIV soundtrack higher than a lot of its brethren as well. Of course, they had a bit of time to refine it from the old NES days into your DS or your mobile. The handling of the Dragon Quest series is pretty haphazard as you might know – features going missing without explanation between different releases, an unhealthy focus on mobile games, and up until quite recently the West was lucky to get even a non-committal nod from Enix, or Squeenix or whoever.

But that was a problem of the nineties – thankfully we’re well beyond the need for rubbish fan translations and mobile interfaces by now. Pick up Dragon Quest IV for your DS, with its clean graphics and nice little animations, and you’re onto a winner. In fact, you’ll find it the best of the series so far, I am thinking.

28 August 2020

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