Thunderbolt logo

Dragon Quest: Chapters of the Chosen

Dragon Quest is an institution in Japan. Back in the early days of the genre, people would line up to buy new installments of the trendsetting RPG and even to this day, it maintains a high level of popularity. It’s amusing, then, that the series is such a niche title for those of us in the West. My memories of lining up to buy a game stop short at drinking too much free Game Fuel at the Halo 3 launch; I can only imagine what shenanigans Dragon Quest fans have been getting up to for the past decade.

I digress.

screenshot

Chapters of the Chosen is a DS remake of Dragon Quest IV, conveniently losing that number for its European release. It remains as it always has been; the overworld, dungeons, and characters are all there. However, the translation has been handled in a bizarre fashion; diehard fans will definitely be a little miffed at the reinterpretation of some characters. However, the gameplay remains the same, and really, that’s what counts.

“A satisfying amount can be accomplished, story-wise, in a relatively short amount of time, making it the perfect game for the RPG fan on the go.”Chapters of the Chosen divides its story into fragments where the player takes control of different people. It’s an interesting spin on the traditional RPG setup of a single character making the rounds amongst the people of the world; while the player does create an avatar of sorts – a male or female protagonist can be named early on in the game – they don’t come into the story as a playable character for a long time. The pacing, then, makes the game perfect for the DS handheld: each story is a few hours long, giving the game a distinct feel of being divided into small chunks. A satisfying amount can be accomplished, story-wise, in a relatively short amount of time, making it the perfect game for the RPG fan on the go.

screenshot

That isn’t to say that Chapters of the Chosen is a good title for casual play. Enjoyment comes from working through the story, and to do that, some good old RPG grinding is in order. The battle system is classic Dragon Quest, a basic turn-based affair involving a first-person view of the action. The characters aren’t visible during fights; instead, beautifully animated enemies attack the screen. The sprites are really something else, as they are richly detailed and move with a surprising amount of fluidity. The battles, then, are at least interesting to watch, even though the menu system is about as basic as it gets. You’ll need to do a lot of fighting, though, because the difficulty ramps up and up as the game continues. This isn’t anything new for RPG players; but anyone looking for a good entry point into the genre will balk at the recommended amount of grinding involved in Dragon Quest.

“Whoever decided that the characters with Russian sounding names in Russian looking buildings with stereotypical Russian attire should speak with Scottish accents might have been having a laugh.”A point of contention for many fans here will be the translation. Chapters of the Chosen has received an extensive script overhaul, adding accents and other quirks to characters that didn’t have them before. That’s not such a bad thing; although whoever decided that the characters with Russian sounding names in Russian looking buildings with stereotypical Russian attire should speak with Scottish accents might have been having a laugh. The problem with this translation isn’t so much what was changed, but what was removed. Western buyers of this game will be missing out on Party Chat, a function that allowed the player to converse with the party and uncover information about their backgrounds, as well as shed light on the story as a whole. It’s sad to see a game in this day and age so badly bowdlerized; it won’t make much difference to people playing this game on a whim, but the fans will most likely be disappointed by this decision.

screenshot

These are not Dragon Quest IV‘s original graphics; this isn’t Dragon Quest IV‘s original script. The rest of the games is the same as it ever was, though, providing a thoroughly classic RPG to DS owners outside of Dragon Quest‘s usual stomping grounds in Japan. If only the game could have made it with its script untouched: what this port amounts to is a step forward in graphics, and a step backwards in storytelling. For players who don’t mind the overzealous translation, this game is a gem; for longtime fans of the series, it could be a bitter disappointment. What you get out of this game depends on what your expectations are going in.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in October 2006.

Gentle persuasion

You should check out our podcast.