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    jp's Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (DS)

    [April 14, 2010 05:13:54 PM]
    Ah. I guess I should end on the "stats".

    I finished the game (Chapter 5) at 20hrs and level 35. It took another 5 levels before I could beat Aamon and tie up Chapter 6. Not sure how many hours. At least 5.
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    [April 14, 2010 05:11:51 PM]
    Finally finished. It was a bit of a slog in the end, which was rather strange.

    The game has 6 chapters, but the 5th is the final chapter. In some sense the 6th is an epilogue, but my experience was that THIS final chapter was the most grueling because there wasn't much to do other than grind and level up. (which took me a while). Curiously, it wasn't until this part of the game (i.e. the last 10 hours of gameplay) that I really started to explore the possibilities that each of the characters provided, the spells they had, and how they could be used together. I was pleased to note how the game sort of requires that. You can't grind your way to success based purely on character levels.

    Now that I think about it, my experience playing this game is quite unusual. I've been largely disappointed with the systems (ie, the mechanics and combat) in most of the early JRPGs I've played recently (Chrono Trigger, FF I and FFII) because they're either too easy (why bother with spells and abilities) or too hard (you need to be lucky or grind like mad). DQIV starts very much in the "too easy" but thanks to mixing around the characters I felt like I was always on my toes (to an extent). Towards the end, once all the characters are available, I faced some really tough decisions, which was nice! I guess I should be looking at more games from this "lineage" now, eh?
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    [March 7, 2010 04:47:29 PM]
    I'm about 12 hours in and I've decidedly reached a turning point in the game. After playing with a bunch of different characters at different times, I've now gone back to my starting character (i.e. "Me") and need to gather up the rest of the party. I'm surprised by how well the transition worked in that, I guess because I've played the other characters and have a vague sense of what's going on, I cared a little bit more when my home town was razed and when I found out that they had been protecting me all those years. Most games would have started with that and attained a much lower level of emotional impact. I'm not saying that I broke up and cried, but it definitely mattered more.

    The combat system also apparently changed once I met my first set of teammates. For some reason, they now acted by themselves and I could only give them "general" orders like "No magic" or "Watch my back". I must have played a few hours before I realized that I could actually step in and given them detailed (micro managed) instructions all the time like I had done before (when I controlled them). I was definitely surprised by this because the change seemed so sudden and also because there is a hardly a tutorial at all. Since I'm generally reluctant to explore menus and whatnot when I feel I know what to do, I missed these options entirely. I guess this is where the game shows how it is actually pretty old school. (and no, I haven't looked at the game's manual either, I'm sure there's info in there as well).

    More generally, having now played many of the JRPG classics, I do get a sense of why some of them are so well-loved and how they are subtly different from their western counterparts. The emphasis on narrative, character and polish is remarkable. They were quite willing to experiment with different stories, settings, and what not.
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    [February 22, 2010 09:41:08 PM]
    I guess it was about time I played ONE of the games in this insanely popular series. Well, insanely popular in Japan at least. To be honest, I had the impression that part of Dragon Quest's popularity had to do with Akira Toriyama's involvement in designing the characters. Having played Chrono Trigger, also with Toriyama's involvement, I guess I should have known better. Well, I guess it's still a bit early to tell...

    Anyways, so far I've found that, the combat system and mechanics are completely uninteresting to me. Combat has very little tactical (or strategic) depth. I really wish there was a button to simply "resolve fight" and move on. Yes, the monster names are fun, and they're interesting to look at and all that...but it gets old pretty quickly.

    The enjoyment I've been getting out of the game, so far, is from the story and characters. As far as I can tell the game is structure in chapters. I've just started the 3rd one, with, as in the earlier chapters, an entirely new character. So far it seems like I've been playing episodes from different games, but I'm sure that they will all tie in together in some clever way. I hope that I still remember what's going on by the time I get there! This makes the game surprisingly refreshing. Your goals are limited (ie, no really long term goals you'll easily forget after 4 hours of play), you get to try out different characters (spell, equipment, and stuff like that), you get to see different locations and different monsters, etc. It's sort of like an RPG 12-course dinner experience. Each course is large enough to whet your appetite, but short enough that you're not stuffed before the next one comes along. The localization also seems fantastic and I'm VERY curious as to how the original text was written in Japanese...

    The first chapter takes place in what sounds (reads) like a Scottish town. Anyways, all the characters talk in a thick accent. It's actually a wee bit tricky to figure out what they're talking about at times. I was surprised by how "thick" the accent was...and the fact that I had to read it that way. (What was it like in the original Japanese version?)

    The second chapter is in a Russian area. Well, the accent is Russian...Again, new set of characters, new location, and NEW tricky accent to read.

    I though this was SO cool! First of all, it's different. I guess most games either have no accent or an olde english accent, that by now is just tired, trite, cliched, and all that. Games with different accents ALSO tend to play on (what are now) tired stereotypes. For example, all dwarves have scottish accents, and that sort of thing.

    The third chapter I've only just started. Again it's something different. I'm playing a shopkeeper. So far I spent a whole day behind a counter selling weapons to random people who walked in... Why? I'm not sure yet. I guess I have to save money before I can set up my own shop? That sounds so cool!

    I'm surprised that no one has come up with a fantasy shopkeeper game...
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    jp's Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (DS)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 11 February, 2010

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 14 April, 2010

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    It's not THAT long, which is good. But it's also structurally and narratively quite interesting. I can see why people are such fans of the series.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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