The heart of Dragon Warrior IV is its story. While none of the previous entries suffered for lack of plot, Enix made the right decision to go all-out with this final NES entry. The game is divided into five chapters. In each chapter, you control a different character, each with a unique set of skills.
Chapter 1: Ragnar the Warrior must rescue some missing children. Along the way, you meet Healie, a healslime with a strange yearning to be human. He joins your party, and thus begins the longstanding Dragon Quest tradition of monsters becoming allies.
Chapter 2: Alena is a princess who longs to be free of her castle and have adventures. She escapes from her bedroom and is joined by her two guardians, Cristo and Brey.
Chapter 3: Torneko Taloon is a merchant who wants to found his own shop. He abandons his family and heads to the Big City, where he hopes to find fame and fortune. Interestingly, Torneko is a weak character so it’s prudent not to engage in many fights. He’s also a pseudo-joke character, but there’s a charm to him, and his chapter defies RPG conventions even today.
Chapter 4: Mona and Nara are magic-using sisters who want to avenge their father’s murderer. They are joined by the warrior Orin.
Chapter 5: After many hours of playing other characters, Chapter 5 has you controlling the Hero. Once the Hero’s village is destroyed by monsters, his powers are revealed to him. He is then sent on a quest to rid the world of the evil Necrosaro. Along his way, he encounters all of the previous characters and they join forces to destroy Necrosaro for good.
For a series that began with the simplest of stories, it’s astonishing that Enix was able to craft such a multi-faceted tale, and still bring each character together so wonderfully. As expected, the role-playing remains basically the same, though with a couple new interesting additions, like casinos and the ability to save your game at churches. Perks like this add beef to an already meaty and expansive game. While there are still random battles and some grinding, the engaging story more than makes up for any tedium. Dragon Warrior IV is a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience.
PUBLISHER: Enix DEVELOPER: Chunsoft GENRE: RPG
RELEASE DATE: 02/11/90 – (JP), 10/1992 – (US)
ALSO AVAILABLE ON: AND, DS, iOS, PS1
*image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101