Story & World
Decent layout for a world that's a little on the small side. Everything ties together nicely and key locations are well-described and easy to find. The game has a light tone what with its simplistic storyline and smiley monsters. The legend of Roto (Erdrick in DW) is pervasive throughout and it being the focus of the story works well for a game this brief.
Yeah, I don't know what was going on with the
translation but at times it seemed like it was one step away from making
a Simpsons reference. I would have preferred if it was played straight
but I'll admit there were some amusing parts. Townsfolk were a
colourful bunch but had good hints to be found in all the dialogue.
There are a few fake-choice dialogue choices. You know the ones. Where
you can answer yes or no but if you choose no it just repeats the
question. Even if you answer no another infinity times. I suspect this
is how the princess got Shen to marry her. 11/20
No choices at all for character design. A three stat system is used (Strength, Agility, and Vitality) which determines the character's other attributes. All stats are raised randomly each level and spells are gained at specific levels. At least they gave him some spells.
Equipment is a basic three slot affair with weapon, armour, and
shield. Most equipment just increases attack or defense though some do
have special effects (taken from the static spell list). Browsing
armaments at the shop shows how it will affect character stats. Most
special items bought just duplicate spell effects and become useless
once the particular spell is learnt. 5/20
Combat & Monsters
Very simple melee combat system supplemented by a limited spell selection. Most monsters have melee attacks only and with there only being one-on-one action, this makes battles play out very much the same. Most magic points end up being used for healing, saving the attack spells for bosses. Utility spells function well in the game and cuts down on needless travel. All spells got used at least once; the spell list is small but practical.
The Dragon Quest bestiary has a good mix of unique and
classic creatures. However, they all act the same unless it happens to
have a spell or spell-like ability (most don't). Encounter rate is
spot on; I never once got frustrated while trying to travel and
Graphics & Sound
Bright and vibrant graphics complement an excellent score with catchy tunes throughout. Monster sprites look a little dated for a 16-bit game (*wink*). Sound effects are lacking in numbers but the few there are suffice. 16/20
Economy stays fairly stable for most of the game until the
last town is found. There's not a lot to buy but prices are high enough
that a little grinding is generally necessary to get all the new items
when discovering a new town. Features a bank that allows the character
to store gold in case of death (results in half gold on hand).
Controls are slick and allow for a great deal of movement
freedom. One nice feature involves having a single button doing
whatever is appropriate on the screen, instead of navigating through the
menu every time (e.g. opening a chest if Shen is in front of it).
From the starting castle, there are only two "paths" to be explored and movement is restricted by many impassable mountain ranges (no airship to save you here). Replaying is only feasible if it's the ONLY GAME YOU OWN. Seriously, you'll see everything the game has to offer the first time. Not too difficult but not a cake walk either. Game is over quick but packs a decent punch in that limited time span. 13/20
Final Ranking: 52/100