Review by Charpig
A Fine RPG from the SNES Era
It has taken a while for the last piece of the Zenithian Trilogy to arrive, but it is well worth the wait. I got my first introduction to the Dragon Quest series with the DS releases of IV and V, so of course I was curious to try VI. The DS remake is the first time that Dragon Quest VI is officially available in North America (the same could be said of Dragon Quest V). Originally, this game was available for the Super Famicom. As one might expect from an SNES-era RPG, this game is quite good, so let me explain why.....
Dragon Quest games don't have as complex storylines as Final Fantasy games do, but they still manage to pull the player in. Dragon Quest VI in particular focuses on two separate worlds that the party travels between in order to battle dread fiends. It's similar to the "two worlds" concept seen in other games like Link to the Past or Metroid Prime 2. The best part about Dragon Quest VI is that the characters say what needs to be said without making the player click through 30 minutes worth of text, which recent RPGs are guilty of. The hero can also talk with his companions while moving through a dungeon or town, and I was quite impressed with the wide variety of reactions available. The characters might look like Dragon Ball Z rejects, but at least they are colorful characters. Additionally, Dragon Quest never takes itself too seriously. Several enemies have funny names (Ornery Onion and Harmour come to mind), and character names are usually some sort of pun as well.
Dragon Quest VI has two main selling points. The first was the "two worlds" mechanic. The second is the vocation system. At first, the party members have a very limited range of skills, and the battling seems to be very basic. But after defeating a certain boss, the party can gain access to Alltrades Abbey where they can choose a vocation. If you've played Final Fantasy V, then this system should be familiar. Anybody can be any vocation. As the heroes win battles in their vocations, they increase job mastery, learning new skills along the way. These skills are retained even if a character changes vocations. However, the stat bonuses of each vocation can vary wildly, so it's up to the player to select the vocation that best matches the skills the character has learned. Given enough time and patience, the party can learn a mother lode of skills which can make any fight very easy. But, the characters will not increase vocation mastery fighting weak enemies. The party must seek out stronger enemies in order to master vocations, although some areas will allow vocation mastery to increase even if the party is at level 99. The one thing I didn't like about the skill system, though, was that there was no way to organize skills how I wanted. There are nearly 20 pages of skills to learn, and it can be trying to flip through all those pages to find the one skill I want to use. Battles are turn based, so there is no rush, but still it would have been nice to organize the skills better.
Speaking of battles, they don't seem to be as cheap as in Dragon Quests IV and V. Granted, enemies early on have a nasty habit of inflicting you with status effects that you don't have any way to cure yet, but for the most part the battles are fair. Very rarely did I find myself being killed in one hit. If there's one bad thing I can say about the battles, it's that all Dragon Quest bosses seem to have the same arsenal of moves. The only real difference is that the next boss has some more HP and attack power than the last one. The final boss does have one interesting twist to him, which I won't mention for fear of spoilers. It would have made the game more interesting if the bosses required different strategies to beat, like Final Fantasy V did.
Regarding overall difficulty, I had heard that this game was supposed to be the toughest Dragon Quest of all. However, I didn't find this game to be as tough as Dragon Quests IV or V, thanks to the job system. Still, this game does have some tense battles, especially early on when the player does not yet have access to the job system. And, as I haven't played the original version of this game, it might be that the remake was intentionally made easier. But, I don't look down on the game for lowered difficulty, and it's certainly not "too easy." As I said before, I found most battles to be fair.
Dragon Quest VI should not be overlooked. It has a decent enough story, and the vocation system give the player a bit more customization, especially when compared to earlier DQ games. With the advent of the Nintendo 3DS, it is very likely that Dragon Quest VI will be one of the last great RPGs for the Nintendo DS.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (US, 02/14/11)
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