Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (DS Review) by Carl B.
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation
System: Nintendo DS
Release: February 14, 2011
Febraury 21, 2011, by Carl B. - On December 9, 1995, Enix (now known as Square-Enix) released Dragon Quest VI on the Super Famicom, completing their three-game trilogy on Nintendo's 16-bit home console. Unfortunately for fans of the NES entries, Enix never localized the Super Famicom Dragon Quest titles, including the very popular Dragon Quest VI. 15 years later, on February 14, 2011, Square-Enix finally brought Dragon Quest VI outside of Japan, under the subtitle "Realms of Revelation," completing the remakes of the Super Famicom games on the DS, and thus having every Dragon Quest game available outside of Japan. Using the same engine as Dragon Quest IV and V on DS and remaining faithful to the original, is Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation merely another bland JRPG stuck in the 90s?
Much like the rest of the Dragon Quest series, players control an unnamed hero as they take on the duties of saving the world from a rising evil power. The game opens with the hero and two companions, Carver and Milly, as the approach Murdaw's castle, the main evil in the adventure. The party makes their way to Murdaw but is trapped in a spell he casts, thus sending each character to a different place in the world and turning them to stone. The hero then awakens in a house in a small mountain village, as if the entire thing only a dream. Players will eventually discover that there are two worlds -- the real world and the Dream World -- and that the characters who were defeated by Murdaw at the very start of the game are indeed themselves; each character that was defeated by Murdaw in the real world was sent to the Dream World, where they have lost the memories of who they are in the real world. Compared to Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride on DS, the overarching story of Dragon Quest VI isn't as riveting an emotionally gripping, but the various sub-stories scattered throughout the game are very engaging as players travel through both worlds to complete various tasks.
Dragon Quest VI uses the same engine as Dragon Quest IV and V on the DS. All characters in the game are 2D sprites, while environments are fully 3D and make use of both screens to give players a better view of what's ahead. This feature is especially useful in the game's many dungeons since they're often designed as labyrinths, so players are able to get a better idea of what turn to make to venture further into the dungeon. An overworld map similar to just about every other JRPG is used in Realms of Revelation, and this portion of the game is made up entirely of2D sprites. Battles still retain their classic Dragon Quest viewpoint, with enemies appearing on the bottom screen on a 3D environment. The enemies themselves are animated sprites that have been slightly modified from the Super Famicom game. In comparison to Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies and even Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the visuals in Dragon Quest VI seem outdated; even though Dragon Quest IX was released after Dragon Quest VI in Japan, it's not crazy to think that Square-Enix could have given the game a graphical update for the North American release.
Much like the rest of the games in its series, Dragon Quest VI is a very story-driven game. Players will never be wandering the game's two worlds aimlessly, as there will always be an objective for them to complete. However, the story's progression and current objective aren't saved in a journal or other such tool, so players will have a hard time coming back to Dragon Quest VI after an extended break period. Players will travel from location to location via a huge world map, and they will also travel between the game's two dimensions, which are parallel to each other but one is not dependent to the other -- if a location is destroyed in one dimension it won't necessarily be gone in the other. As per JRPG tradition, each town players visit will have better equipment than the last, along with tougher enemies in that particular region.
Combat in Dragon Quest VI is turn-based without an ATB system used in the Final Fantasy series and is viewed on the bottom screen of the DS in first-person. The top screen displays each party member's stats, along with what enemy they will be attacking next. For some strange reason touch controls aren't used for battles despite the commands taking place on the bottom screen. During battle each player is able to attack, defend, cast magic, or use an item, and players can switch out party members in the midst of a battle if they have more than four with them. Monsters early in the game aren't very challenging, but as the game wears on the ante is upped considerably. Thankfully, a large amount of grinding isn't required unless players feel the need to completely dominate their foes. This does include the game's boss battles, as the only one I had real trouble with was the second encounter with Murdaw.
Dragon Quest VI, along with III and VII, is the only title in the series to feature a class system. When players reach a certain shrine in the game they are able to swap the class of each party member, thus changing their stats significantly. The available classes in Dragon Quest VI include the warrior, martial artist, mage, priest, dancer, thief, and merchant. There are also hybrid classes in the game that offer even more stat modifications, with one example of such a class being the gladiator (warrior combined with the martial artist).
Unfortunately, for fans that are itching for a more modern RPG experience, Dragon Quest VI makes use of random battles. For the first eight hours or so of the game I didn't mind them, but when I was trying to get somewhere in a timely fashion or keep my party healed up on my way to a big boss fight it became an annoyance. Once again, Square-Enix had an opportunity to update the game for its North American release by doing away with random battles like they did with Dragon Quest IX, but sadly this is not the case.
A few new additions have been made to the DS version of Dragon Quest VI that were not in its Super Famicom counterpart. The biggest change is the exclusion of recruit-able monsters; instead of randomly gaining monster companions after a battle similar to Pokemon, there are different Slime warriors scattered throughout the game that may be added to the player's party. There has also been a Slime-curling mini game added to Dragon Quest VI, offering players some relaxation during their long quest.
14/15 - A beautiful, retro-inspired soundtrack.
15/20 - The visuals may seem a bit dated compared to Dragon Quest IX, but the VI never suffers from framerate slowdowns like IX does. As always, Akira Toriyama provides excellent artwork.
23/25 - An epic 30-plus hour long adventure fueled by a tale of two worlds with plenty of twists will keep players thoroughly entertained.
32/40 - Despite making use of dated random battles, combat in Dragon Quest VI still manages to feel fun thanks to the authentic Dragon Quest feel.
84/100 - Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is a classic JRPG at its core. It has its faults of old-school design, but the overall experience is as rich and engaging as any top-tier RPG. While Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is by far the best of the DS Dragon Quest titles, VI should not be missed by fans of the series or of role-playing games alike.