April 28, 2013

[Game 036] Dragon Quest IV (NES - 1990)

After hearing the first heartwarming notes of the title song, waves upon waves of nostalgia swept o'er me, drowning me in sweet 8-bit bliss.  Dragon Quest/Warrior IV was my favourite RPG as a teen meatsack.  While Final Fantasy got more replays due to its more configurable party system, DQIV got more love due to its immersive world and adorable characters.  It also marks the first RPG I played that had five distinct chapters, making it feel so much more epic.  Each chapter stars a different character that the player controls and develops.  In the fifth and final chapter, the actual nameable main character is introduced and will eventually meet up with all the previous characters.  At the time, this completely blew my mind and I would actually eschew homework and girlfriends in order to get Taloon the merchant a couple thousand more golds.  I plan on writing an entry for each chapter, though the last (and largest) chapter will probably having multiple postings.  To pad out this inaugural posting, I'll regale y'all with a whimsical tale from my youth.

I had already played and completed DQIV once or twice before becoming friends with someone else who also had a deep infatuation for the game.  On a lark, we decided to try to complete the entire game in a single weekend.  The first night would be held at his place; the second night mine.  Sleep was not an option here and to ensure peak awareness, we kept ourselves topped up with many, many pots of heavily sugared Red Rose™ tea (resulting in an addiction that has persevered to this day).  For whatever reason, buddy's choice of music for the entire night was At the Hundredth Meridian by The Tragically Hip.  I wasn't (and never became) a fan of The Hip but after a few hours of listening to the same song, it just became part of the whole experience.  Anyway, progress went swimmingly until we reached the casino where we spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to win enough coins to get a Metal Babble Shield.  Our whole strategy lay in the double-or-nothing portion of the casino's poker game.  After a normal win in the poker part, a single card is shown and, from the remaining four face-down cards, a higher card value must be selected.  Failure results in losing everything gained up to that point.  We thought for sure we could game the system and developed pattern theories to ensure maximal success rates.  A combination of kilolitres of tea and music that had essentially transformed into white noise caused me to mispronounce pattern as "pattren" which I dutifully bellowed every time we managed to get a few successes in a row.  Of course, none of these theories panned out and I'm pretty sure we didn't get the shield.

The second night at my place held none of the enthusiasm and vigour of the first.  Sleep deprivation can be quite fun but there is a threshold that results in a plunge into sullenness after it is crossed.  Not much happened in the way of conversation and the whole attempt became more like a chore.  My only strong recollection of the night was unwillingly falling asleep for about two hours.  I barely even realized that I fell asleep and only knew because buddy was farther in the game than I had just observed (from my frame of reference).  The funny thing is that buddy didn't even realize I was asleep all that time.  Truly, sleep deprivation is a weird and wonderful state of being.  The kicker of this tale is that I'm fairly certain we still didn't finish the quest.

I'm really looking forward to experiencing DQIV again and hopefully I can give it the love and attention that it deserves (while still poking fun).