May 05, 2013

Dragon Quest IV - Ragnars to Riches


The first chapter is the shortest and most basic, acting as a primer to JRPGs in general.  In it, the player takes control of Ragnar, a royal soldier of Burland Castle.  It seems that the children of the land are disappearing and no one knows why.  Since detectives have not been invented yet, the king orders his soldiers to go investigate.  Even though time is of the essence, Ragnar follows the tried and true method of exploring his immediate surroundings and talking with everyone.

The King's advisor is no stranger to JRPGs.

Ragnar ignores the minister's urges and continues with the standard formula.

Just ganking your herbals!
Nothing to see here!

After a couple more residents of the castle gently encourage Ragnar to get his ass in gear, he leaves the castle only to find himself in the town, where he continues to wander and chat.  Despite being a royal soldier, he is only armed with a common copper sword and wears basic leather armour.  This is par for the course in JRPGs but, in a shocking turn of events, DQIV actually provides an explanation as to why this is.

Has he tried a 5-year GIC laddering strategy?

Ragnar finally gets around to leaving Burland and heads to Izmit Village to begin a proper investigation.  The adults don't know much of anything but one of the few remaining children tells Ragnar about his friend who flew up into the sky while they were playing and never came back down.  It's not much of a lead but at least it's something.  Further investigation finds Ragnar interrogating an imprisoned and crazed man who is raving about being scared of monsters.  This turns out to be Alex, whose wife, Flora, in Burland was looking for him.  Royal errand boy Ragnar returns to Burland to lead Flora back to Izmit.  When they meet, Alex doesn't seem to remember her so she lays a literal smackdown on him to jog his memory.

The spousal abuse double standard
raises its ugly head.

This shameful display works in Ragnar's favour as Alex also remembers the secret location of an old well where the children were playing.  Hot on this new lead's trail, Ragnar finds and enters the well to discover a large network of caverns and tunnels.  It's also completely infested with monsters, so kudos to the kids for having the balls to play down there.  Ragnar battles his way through Sizarmages and Lethal Gophers to obtain the Flying Shoes, which must be responsible for the missing children.  I would have thought that the shoes would have gone with whoever used it, but perhaps their tiny feet slipped out of the shoes after they were activated.  Rags doesn't try them on just yet as he has more of the well to explore.  It's here that he meets quite possibly the most useful, endearing, and adorable companion to ever grace a RPG.

Yes, the secret to humanity lies
in the bottom of old wells.

Healie thinks that by hanging around a human, he might then become one and offers to join Ragnar.  Not to be one to damper the naive little cutie's dream, Ragnar accepts as he could use a good, reliable source of healing.  Much to Ragnar's surprise, Healie not only soothes his wounds with a gentle caress of his tentacles but also fights bravely in battle — by launching his jelly body at the enemy, I guess?

Oh Healie, I'd be disappointed if you
ever did more than one damage.

After leaving the well with his new best bud, Ragnar heads back to Izmit to catch some much needed ZZZs.

Just a single room for tonight,
my good innkeeper. *wink*

Waking up the next morning still exhausted and drenched in sweat and jelly, Ragnar nonetheless dons the Flying Shoes (and Healie as well, I presume) and, lo and behold, flies up into the air and lands on top of a normally inaccessible Loch Tower.  So this is where the children have been stockpiled.  The monsters are tough as granite as well, especially since Ragnar is a slow-ass bitch and always lets the spellcasting monsters unleash their ice bolts and shit before doing a goddamn thing.  Even with Healie's sensuous healing, Rags still has to abandon the tower and head back to Izmit's inn multiple times.  A solider met in the tower (how did he get there?) confirms the difficulty of the monsters and laments the fact that he missed the chance to have a healing buddy of his own.

We'd let you join us now but,
you know... three's a crowd.

At the base of the tower, Ragnar finds the children being held by an evil mage called Saro's Shadow.  Apparently he suspects that one of these kids is destine to be The Chosen One™ that will eradicate some unbeknownst evil thing in the near future.

WARNING!  WARNING!
Incoming foreshadowing!

Of course, Healie and Ragnar mop the floor with Saro's Shadow and the children are free to return to their homes.  The king of Burland is overjoyed with their success and offers them any reward their heart desires.  Their interest piqued by the story of the child hero, Ragnar and Healie decide to search high and low for this hero and vow to protect him from the vague threat of evil.  The king complies and, as a bonus, drops several thousand experience points somehow on Ragnar's punk ass.  As the chapter closes, the two mightiest warriors in the land prepare for their new quest with absolutely no leads of any kind.  I think we all know what Ragnar and Healie will really be up to.