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Nintendo DS Review: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation

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When Square-Enix announced that they were revisiting the Dragon Quest franchise on the Nintendo DS, fans were naturally ecstatic. The classic franchise has been at the forefront of role-playing games since its inception and the fact that older entries would be redone for a modern audience was like a dream come true. We’ve already explored IV and V, and now it’s time to check out the last in the planned series, Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation.

Dragon Quest VI was originally released for the Super Famicon in Japan in 1995 and was never made available in North America before, at least not officially. With some reworked graphics and some new gameplay elements, Realms of Revelation is definitely something fans will want to dig into. Granted it’s a little outdated, especially considering the improvements IX brought to the table, but it’s a worthy RPG for the DS regardless.

The plotline in Dragon Quest VI tells the story of a young hero who inadvertently discovers a Dream World above his own. From there the game shifts between the parallel existences and naturally brings about a big evil that has to be defeated at some point. By finding party members with similar goals, players bounce between worlds to further the plot and get from point A to point B. In many respects the story is rather mundane and doesn’t really pop, but then again it’s serviceable for the action and direction of the content; just don’t look to get swept up in a huge narrative or fall in love with the characters with this title.

As far as the gameplay is concerned, players can expect to experience the standard style of the franchise (and genre for that matter). With party members in tow, monsters come at players randomly on the map and in dungeons. By using acquired skills, attacks, and magic, players take down the opposing monster’s hit-points and gain experience points in the process. These points are naturally applied to the level of characters and when they have enough points they get more powerful. Varying weapons, abilities, and other factors also go into making characters stronger. In other words there’s nothing in the way of innovation in this department and in many regards it’s a little antiquated, but then again it’s a remake of an older game so I suppose that’s to be expected.

Along the lines of things that are true to the genre, the rest of Realm of Revelation‘s components fall into place. Item management is handled through textual menus with minimal graphical flare, and items can be found or purchased at a shop. There are character classes as well and the job system dictates what special skills can be learned and applied. In both cases, there are some cumbersome manners with which the game handles them, but these are really a testament to the age of the core game. Not being able to really see how an item affects a character or how far someone has to go before they level up on the fly is rather obnoxious. There are still systems in place to deal with both of these, but you do have to jump through some hoops (or see a priest) to get the results you’re looking for.

Dragon Quest VI moves along with somewhat linear progression. Events and key battles happen at necessary intervals to give players a sense of direction, though don’t expect to get your hand held. There are many points where searching for the one NPC (non-playable character) you need to talk to is the only way you’re going to move forward. In addition to that, there are specific items that you need to use in order to make events happen. Dragon Quest has always been a franchise that made players think, and VI is no slouch in that regard.

Difficulty is also another benchmark of the franchise and this title features plenty of spikes. Any fan of Dragon Quest will know that once players arrive at a new location it’s necessary to grind for experience points, skills, and weaponry. It’s a vicious cycle that will punish those who don’t mind stopping progress to take a few hours to build up levels. Luckily, there are many side tasks that break up the monotony of this, and they are very rewarding. Some new additions to the game, such as a version of curling with Slimes, also break up the pacing and give players something to do when they start getting tired with the grind.

All in all Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is a meaty role-playing game that will take plays upwards of 60 to 70 hours to complete. That’s a lot of game packed into such a small cartridge, but anyone who has played the other installments already knows what they’re in for. Don’t expect this installment to push the envelope in terms of development the way IX did, but for anyone hoping to revisit the golden age of JRPGS, Dragon Quest VI is a sweet ticket.

Like the other installments of the recent Dragon Quest games on the DS, the graphics here have been ‘suped up a bit for the modern era. Sprites are more detailed and larger, there are some 3D effects thrown in for good measure, and the worlds wreak of personality. The title is not as sharp-looking as some of the DS’s other RPGs, but this title is ultimately easy on the eyes with cute characters, bright colors, and plenty of little details in between.

As any role-playing game fan would expect, the soundtrack here is second to none. Sweeping and familiar tunes fill the DS’s little speakers and there are plenty of iconic tracks from the title to the end credits. Sound effects are another familiar component of the game and the tried and true effects are all in place.

Anyone who owns a DS and is looking for a role-playing game with a challenge should consider Dragon Quest VI highly recommended. It’s a quality adventure with plenty going for it. With that being said, please note that some of the components of the game are a little dated. It’s nothing that breaks the experience, but it’s enough that some players may feel levels of frustration at times. Still, this is a solid game through and through and it’s a must own title for the DS.

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Simulated Gambling, and Use of Alcohol.

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