Dragon Quest VI: Realm of Reverie (DS) Review
Nintendo and Square Enix have been on a roll with the Dragon Quest series lately. With multiple remakes of the classic titles, along with newer iterations in the series, Square Enix have been busy in garnering support for the franchise using Nintendo’s systems. With the rather stellar release of Dragon Quest IX, the latest DS RPG was popular among all crowds thanks to some heavy marketing. Nintendo and Square Enix have seen fit to create another remake, this time of one of the finest titles in the series, which was not available outside of Japan until now. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie (or Revelation in other territories) is the latest release in the series from Square Enix for the Nintendo DS, and despite being quite a decent game, it’s definitely not going to win any haters of the series over. Without a doubt though, it’s probably the better of the three remakes that Nintendo have published thus far.
Dragon Quest VI takes place in a medieval town of Weaver’s Peak, where we take control of an unnamed “hero” character who is asked by the mayor to collect some produce for sale throughout the town. Upon venturing out of the town to secure his produce, the hero accidentally uncovers a “dream world” which exists parallel to the real world, however the hero takes a ghostly state whenever in the dream world. While in this world, the hero uncovers Murdaw, a monstrous being who threatens the wellbeing of the entire world. Upon waking from what feels like a dream, the hero eventually realises that everything he experienced was most certainly not a dream, and that he must band together with others to defeat the menacing presence before it destroys the real world right under everyone’s noses. It’s all very generic and I would go as far to call it “bad” too.
As this is a partial remake, Dragon Quest VI features some redone graphics when compared to the original SNES versions. 3D environments have been added and they have some very nice designs, with some interesting art direction too. Most of the game is very similar to SNES-era pixel art, however, but none of the assets are too offensive and they still hold up very well today, or have been restored appropriately. There are many towns that the player will visit, and each one has a unique and interesting design too, which is nice to see in a game like this – every area is almost instantly recognisable after visiting a couple of times. Generally speaking, the graphical presentation of Dragon Quest VI is very competent, it’s just nothing that’s totally distinct.
Of the two RPG giants in Japan, Dragon Quest is one of the oldest franchises and it’s probably still popular with its die hard fans because it hasn’t really changed all that much since the original title was released. This, in my humble opinion, is both a good and a bad thing, though I see it as being more of a bad thing. Just like all previous Dragon Quest games, during random encounters with enemies, players take turns attacking enemies and vice versa, with only the enemies visible at any given time. The game does allow people to wait on the sidelines of a battle to jump in and take over for the main party on the fly, though, and this is a feature that is strangely always left out of most (not all) modern RPGs and it’s encouraging to see it in this game – especially when you consider how long ago the original was released.
Dragon Quest VI also features a class/skill system that is not dissimilar from other RPGs – many fans of the genre will probably be intimately familiar with how it works. Upon completing a certain part of the story, the characters can all change their own classes in order to access new talents. Levelling and creating the classes is a miserable experience, with excessive grinding required to get anywhere worthwhile which is something that will put a lot of players off. Once grinding yourself into oblivion, the player can choose to create a hybrid class from two already mastered classes, which provides multiple bonuses both in battle and outside of it. The merging and creation of hybrid classes is a good idea that I don’t think we’ve seen in too many RPGs this generation, although the steps you must take (and we’re talking what feels like several hundred thousand of them) make the whole experience seem not worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I do not mind the occasional grind, but honestly I feel that Dragon Quest VI simply has too much. This feeling of tedium is only exacerbated by the fact that there is only one particular area where progression on certain classes can be viewed, which is a baffling and archaic relic of the 90s that should’ve been fixed with this remake.
Dragon Quest VI has a very well done soundtrack, but sometimes it feels like there just arent enough tracks on offer here – especially when considering how long the game is. Essentially, youll hear many of the same tracks many times throughout yuor adventure and it can get a little bit irritating. There are some nice old school sounding tunes playing during most of the game, and after hearing it for so long after extended play sessions, it’s a shame that nothing extra was added in for this remake. Simply put, the soundtrack is oversampled throughout the long adventure that Dragon Quest VI offers and some more variety in the tracks would’ve been appreciated. Still, what’s here is definitely good.
But is Dragon Quest VI worth your hard earned money? It’s hard to say exactly, though in terms of pure content, it definitely is. There’s a heap to do, including optional side-quests and even some hidden characters to unlock should you pursue them. All in all, the game will take the average player between 40 and 50 hours to complete, but the average RPG fanatic or completionist could easily pull 90 plus hours out of it. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re willing to prepare to grind your way through the game.
Overall, Dragon Quest VI is a pretty good Japanese RPG for the system and definitely one of the best out of the recently released remakes in the series, though for me personally it does not stand up to more modern games such as Dragon Quest IX, which evolved but at the same time stayed true to their roots. Dragon Quest VI unfortunately clings too hardly to its roots and as a result it’s bound to lose fans too. RPG fans, you’ll love this. Those who are indifferent, it’s probably best to stay away.
Some nice sprite work and artwork makes the game feel like it hasnt aged too much. Town designs are varied and very unique, which is nice to see. Sprites are still sprites however.
A semi-archaic system is starting to show age here. The job/skill system is a nice touch and a staple of many RPGs released during this era, though the endless grinding is bound to put some players off and the rewards are hardly ever worth it. “Reserves” during battle are a nice touch though.
There are some nice tunes on offer here but they are played way too much, and in a game thats between forty to sixty hours, this can become very repetitive and very annoying. Some new pieces wouldve been nice, but whats already offered here is nice.
As previously mentioned, youll get a good forty hours out of this at least, if you stay till the end. Completionists will be able to mop everything up and take well over ninety hours, as the game is packed with optional content and even hidden characters. Its hard to say if its overall worth the time needed, though.
Ive got to be honest here, the Dragon Quest games are beginning to become borderline stagnant to me. Having played at least four on my DS in the past couple of years, and not seeing any major change (bar those made to [i]Dragon Quest IX[/i]) Im starting to tire of the series archaic and unchanged design.
Dragon Quest VI wouldve been a great game if Id played it back when it was released originally, and in my native tongue. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to this beauty in Square Enixs back catalogue and as such its hard to recommend it to anyone besides die hard Japanese RPG fans. Im interested to see if [i]Dragon Quest X [/i]will be a big change for the series, but only time will tell.