March 23, 2012

Dragon Quest - Ranking

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

Character Development

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 explore.  7/20

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

Gameplay

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