Review: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation

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Last summer Nintendo DS gamers got the first major JRPG release targeted at a handheld platform – Dragon Quest IX. The game was wonderful – it brought in everything great from the franchise, showed a true progression from the PS2 game before it, and was simply a great experience. The fact that the latest retrofit of a classic Dragon Quest entry comes so soon after DQIX is good news and bad news. Let’s see how it all balances out.

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation was originally released on the ‘Super Famicom’ (Japanese name for the SNES) in December of 1995. It was the end of the Zenithia trilogy, which included Dragon Quest IV and V. Those games have already been released in North America for the DS in 2008 and 2009. Previous to that, only Dragon Quest IV had been released in North America as a NES game in 1992.

The original Dragon Quest VI was highly regarded in terms of story and gameplay, and also for having graphics that truly took advantage of the SNES graphics capabilities. Dragon Quest V was also an SNES game but came out just after the console launched and looked more like an NES game. The main attractions were the class system, inventory management, and of course the story!

So the good news is that everything that made the game great in 1995 remains excellent today. The story is based around a single hero who loses his friends and his memory at the beginning of the game and must go through an arduous set of trials before eventually regaining both friends and memory and (naturally) saving the world!

It sounds corny and cliche (and it is), but what brings it to life are the great characters! The game series actually wraps around NPCs and a parallel world based on the dreams of the people of the world, which has always produced interesting scenarios. The other adventurers who join you and the characters you encounter along the way make things more colorful and interesting – certainly more so than many recent high-profile games!

As usual with these games, there are loads of random battles that dominate combat. The combat system is turn-based with a turn order that isn’t always as simple as figuring whoever is fastest goes first. You still cannot specifically target enemies, but the unique ability to have extra allies ready to join the battle remains. It is a solid system that remains well-done today.

With all of that praise, why the negative introduction? Because of Dragon Quest IX. Everything done in Dragon Quest VI is done better in DQIX, from graphics to combat to exploration to dialogue, and so on. I know one game is 15 years old, but when two games are released within six months of each other for the exact same price, there are bound to be comparisons.

That being said, I would have no hesitation recommending Dragon Quest VI to any gamer – it is an excellent game that has taken WAY too long coming to North America. Now that it is here, we can start the debate on which game represents the pinnacle of the Zenithia trilogy. As for me… hmmm… it has been too long, I’d have to replay the other two again. But that is okay, since all three are very good games!

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Pros:
+ Solid turn-based strategy combat system
+ Loads of great characters
+ Deep class system
+ Great huge story

Cons:
– Class system shows its age
– Combat inflexibility remains

Game Info:
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: 2/14/2011
Genre: RPG
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

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About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!