After I beat Dragon Quest IV, I’m not touching another game in the series.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been on-and-off trying to beat Dragon Quest IV. I cleared the first four chapters relatively quickly and was only scarcely stopped by a difficult boss battle. After beating Dragon Quest III, I figured this game would have a moving narrative and quality-of-life improvements that would keep me playing.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. Once I got to Chapter 5, I began reliving the same problems I had with Dragon Quest III. I found myself level grinding regularly and getting lost on where to go next. Not to mention the battle paces are slow as all hell. As you need to use AoE buffs and debuffs to survive, it takes forever watching the battle data load up individually with each hit.

Dragon Quest VIII offered 2x battle speed in its 3DS re-release.

Dragon Quest IV doesn’t have that moving narrative that makes me want to play for the story. It’s incredibly straightforward. Keep in mind this game even predates Final Fantasy IV which I find to be the turning point in JRPG storytelling.

Final Fantasy IV came out in 1991, one year after Dragon Quest IV for NES.

But even as a remake from the PlayStation era, coming to DS and mobile phones, the developers didn’t really add anything to make it a more moving narrative. Fire Emblem Echoes, a 2016 remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, rewrote the story completely to offer touching and decisive moments.

Fire Emblem Echoes (2016) is a reimagining of 1992’s Fire Emblem Gaiden. Proof that you can remake an old game with a strong narrative.

Right now, I’m at the end of Chapter 5. Upon my fight with Psaro the Manslayer, I didn’t realize that I was in for a 30-minute fight with multiple forms. Once I got skeptical of how long the fight was taking, I took a look on YouTube to see I simply did not have the time to finish this fight at the time. Now I’m preparing to grind my characters up another 5 levels or so in order to survive the battle. Keep in mind I’ve been doing this against bosses throughout the game.

Die already.

This game doesn’t even expect you to spend much time building a proper battle strategy. It’s incredibly straightforward not only relying on grinding but picking a simple team of the four best units. My team consists of Solo, Alena, Kiryl, and Borya (Hero, Martial Artist, Healer, Mage). You can also use Maya, Meena, Torneko, and Ragnar. Unfortunately, the twins’ magic spells aren’t as good as the former casters as they don’t have good buffs or Kiryl’s Multiheal.

Meanwhile, Torneko has nothing special in battle and Ragnar doesn’t learn arts or have Alena’s critical rate. If you beat Dragon Quest XI, Ragnar is like Hendrik in that they’re both physical fighters. However, the latter actually uses arts that can protect the team and deal vicious damage.

On that note, at least the character designs are as strong as ever.

Speaking of Dragon Quest XI, I should probably mention I adore that game to no end. It’s one of the greatest JRPGs of all time. It took its own formula, melded it with modern-day JRPG mechanics, and made it its own. It redefined the formula to create the perfect, polished JRPG. I can also say Dragon Quest VIII on 3DS was also rather impressive and only forced minimal grinding.

Dragon Quest VIII (2005)

Dragon Quest IV just feels too dated to properly enjoy at this point. It’s popular in Japan and popular among a small, vocal minority of western JRPG fans. However, if long strings of grinding and getting lost aren’t your thing, I cannot recommend this game.

If you dislike sitting through slow battle animations or want a story with defining plot elements for a more modern-day taste, skip Dragon Quest IV. Once I finally beat this game, I have no plans to play the rest of the Zenithian Trilogy or VII. Whether you’re new to the series or playing after VIII or XI, it’s best you stick with those and other JRPGs.

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Rango

Rango

I write pieces on video games of all kinds. Consider supporting my writing on Medium! https://rangothemercenary.medium.com/membership