I still can't zoom in a cave.
The release of last year's Dragon Quest IX was likely the first time many Nintendo DS owners had experienced a Dragon Quest game. This year, Nintendo has released the fourth Dragon Quest title to appear on the DS: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation, a DS remake of the original SNES title that was never released outside of Japan.
Those who have only experienced Dragon Quest IX may be shocked by just how similar Realms of Revelation is to Sentinels of the Starry Skies, while veteran Dragon Quest players will be unsurprised with its familiarity. While I have never played Dragon Quest VI, the similarities that run through all Dragon Quest games instantly gave me a sense of déjà vu. Everything, from the visuals to the sounds, and even the battle mechanics, are facsimiles of something that has already been done in a Dragon Quest title. Even some of the less used Dragon Quest mechanics are present: the Alltrades Abbey is available for class changes, and players can recruit monsters into their parties.
Though I am still just shy of ten hours into the game, it is apparent that I have already seen most of what this game has to offer. Or have I? Dragon Quest VI’s story only took around half an hour to completely sell itself to me. The story, after all, is what keeps me returning to Dragon Quest games. Realms of Revelation features a dual-world structure, in which players jump between the "real world" and the phantom world.
As a soldier for the king of Somnia, it is your job to investigate this phantom world as part of the effort to combat the evil Murdaw. Dragon Quest VI starts out with what appears to be a dream sequence, but is actually a flash-forward to coming events. There is a level of mystery and intrigue to everything that transpires in Realms of Revelation that makes the game hard put down. Perhaps it is good, then, that the rest of the game is so familiar.
Even for those that are not well-versed in Dragon Quest, the turn-based role-playing mechanics are easy enough to pick up and play. Still, I cannot help but wish that Square Enix had put more effort in to developing this remake, especially considering that Tactics Ogre (another SNES remake) releases this month on the PSP and is, by all accounts, a definitive reworking of the original game. Why did Square Enix not use the beautiful Dragon Quest IX engine to recreate Realms of Revelation? Why can I rotate the camera in some dungeons, but not others? Why must I return to a church to save my game? Why can I still not use the Zoom spell to exit a cave? This isn't to imply that Dragon Quest VI seems to be a bad remake, but rather that it seems satisfied with just being a good remake.
Considering how much time players will likely put into this game, I would have loved to see Square Enix take the opportunity to put more time into revising the game. While the familiarity of the game is appreciated, Dragon Quest IX demonstrated that a game can still retain all of its Dragon Quest trappings while still feeling fresh and modern. Everything you like about Dragon Quest is here, but so is everything you don’t. So far, the story is easily the best reason to consider a Dragon Quest VI purchase, and I am looking forward to seeing it unravel as I work my way towards the end of the game. Expect a full review of Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation later this week.