Jahanzeb Khan
15 Jun, 2011

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie Review

DS Review | Awesome game in any realm.
There is something really special about the Dragon Quest series that still sets it apart from the crowd. It has a certain aura, style and quality. One of the true pioneers of the Japanese RPG genre and one of the most respected RPG series, Dragon Quest was and still is a huge phenomenon in Japan, with the Western gaming world now getting better acquainted with it. Dragon Quest VIII was responsible for bringing the series into the mainstream gaming scene outside of Japan, and since then, we’ve been treated to remakes of past games that never made it to English speaking territories, or PAL territories in particular. Dragon Quest IV and the absolutely incredible Dragon Quest V can be enjoyed on the Nintendo DS with remade graphics and full English translation. This year, Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie lands on our shores, once again for the Nintendo DS. Like the previous entries on the DS, Dragon Quest VI was originally released for the Super Nintendo exclusively in Japan, and this DS version marks the first time the game has been released in PAL territories.

DQ VI tells a fascinating story that essentially revolves around inter-dimensional travel and apparently some degree of time travel … well, not quite, but if we told you what it was really all about then the game just wouldn’t be any fun. It actually takes more than a couple of hours for the game to finally unveil what’s really going on, and after a good ten hours of gameplay, the true plot opens up with everything prior to it feeling like a prologue. What’s great about DQ VI, like any DQ game before it, is that it has a certain level of polish, charm and maturity that is sorely lacking in the Japanese RPGs we have to endure in this age. The characters you meet are very classical and somewhat stereotypical, but their portrayal is quite strong and interesting. You won’t meet any of the androgynous and whiny stereotypes that plague the genre today. Instead, you will meet characters that behave really naturally and realistically. The story overall feels fairy-tale like with a great deal of charm and some interesting humour, and some memorable characters that make the journey interesting.

DQ VI is mechanically similar to any other game in the series. It features a classic turn-based combat system that utilizes the old school first-person perspective where you can’t see your own characters. It’s a pretty standard fare, but it flows fast and is enjoyable.

"Niegh" said the horse.

"Niegh" said the horse.
Character development is pretty straightforward in the first ten hours, as you simply beat enemies, gain experience, level up, learn new skills and repeat. Once you beat a certain boss you gain access to a town that allows you to change the vocation of your party (think ‘job system’ from Final Fantasy V). You can choose one of many vocations (classes) for each of your party members, and the game allows you to change vocations freely. You can even choose to stick with the default vocation for each character. Once you choose a certain vocation, you master it by taking part in battles and building experience, learning some new skills along the way. Mastering vocations opens up newer vocations, and so you’ll be experimenting with different ones as you play through game. The vocations include the likes of Thief, Warrior, Priest, Dancer and numerous others. This vocation system alone is perhaps the best thing about DQ VI, and makes it really addictive, engaging and immersive.

The quest itself is a brilliant piece of work. Be warned, it’s a slow start, but even the early sections of the game are still quite fun. You will meet new characters and gradually learn more about the setting, before the major turning point where it all adds up and really sets off. You explore all sorts of interesting places, such as a town that’s essentially a bustling bazaar where you can bargain with sellers for items and find good deals. You’ll visit towns that each have their own unique attraction or story, such as the one that’s renowned for its incredible drinking water that is also sold as a HP replenishing item, one where you can gamble in a casino, and even a obscure place called Slimopolis (the hideous and somewhat iconic slime creatures serve as Pokemon in this game). Along the way you will be able to take on a variety of additional quests that are actually really fun and interesting. Some of these quests not only award you unique items, but they also allow you to recruit new characters into your party. There’s a lot to see, do and collect in DQ VI. This is one RPG that’s packed full of enjoyable content, and combined with the deep and diverse vocation system, you’re going to be on one lengthy and absorbing quest.

Being a remake of a Super Nintendo game, DQ VI suffers from a couple of pesky design conventions that also plagued the other DS releases. The biggest problem is that the game gives very little direction as to what you need to do or where you need to go, making you lost for the most part. This design choice, at the time, was meant to induce a sense of wonder and discovery into players, but this does not hold well in today’s gaming standards. The best example we can give was this town where we were advised to speak to everyone in the castle while waiting for the chancellor to arrive. We walked around for a good hour before realizing that we had to ‘talk’ to a cat to trigger the next event. Other issues include frequent random battles and the need to grind excessively in the early portions of the game.

Now if only they gave it the same visual treatment as those darn Final Fantasy games.

Now if only they gave it the same visual treatment as those darn Final Fantasy games.
DQ VI looks almost identical to the other DS entries, which is quite a disappointment. It would have been a lot nicer if a new engine was used, but instead, they choose to recycle the same engine and sprites. It’s not a bad looking game, but it looks quite dated compared to other games on the platform, like the Final Fantasy remakes. Speaking of which, it’s actually a crying shame that these Final Fantasy remakes get a far better graphical and visual makeover, when these DQ games deserve it so much more. At least, Akira Toriyama once again provides the cool artwork for the game and the music quality is true to the DQ charm.

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie is quite possibly the best entry in the series. It offers a ton of content, an engaging and massive quest, and some really addictive mechanics. The vocation system alone makes it a joy to play and the in-game world itself is a fascinating place. It’s unfortunately bogged down by some of its retro conventions and the lazily recycled engine. At the end of the day, it really is one of the jewels of the genre, and one that any gamer can enjoy, especially those who are sick and tired of seeing ambiguous male characters and convoluted plots in Japanese RPGs. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie wraps up the ‘Nintendo DS remake trilogy’ nicely by being the very best one yet.
The Score
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie wraps up the ‘Nintendo DS remake trilogy’ by being the best one yet. Absolutely anyone will enjoy this top-quality role-playing game, so go and experience this ‘proper’ Japanese RPG for yourself. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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2 years ago
PALGN wrote
Other issues include frequent random battles...
Oh god, after Dragon Quest IX... I don't think I can go back to random battles again.

But wow, a 9! That's pretty damn impressive. I still have V to finish, and IV waiting for me. :S
2 years ago
Turn based battles with a very high random encounter rate it something that will just drive me up the wall. Turn based battles I don't mind. It's the random encounter that I hate. Especially when they encounter rate is high. Add these all together and you have a game that fell more like a tedious task than entertainment.
2 years ago
These issues are consistent in not only the classic Dragon Quest games, but also Final Fantasy. It's really up to you, but the strengths of DQ VI more than overcome these pesky conventions. It's a brilliant game no doubt.
2 years ago
OH MY GOD, this comes out tomorrow!!?!?!?!

Been waiting for this for a long time!

Flight game, chosen! (I fly to Thailand Friday morning).
2 years ago
Ordered this game from play asia just today. Can not wait till i get it icon_biggrin.gif. Thanks for the review Jahanzeb!
2 years ago
More Dragon Quest can never be a bad thing!
2 years ago
Marka wrote
Turn based battles with a very high random encounter rate it something that will just drive me up the wall. Turn based battles I don't mind. It's the random encounter that I hate. Especially when they encounter rate is high. Add these all together and you have a game that fell more like a tedious task than entertainment.
Yeah, I agree with you.

It's not that I hate Turn based battles but the encounter rates in some DQ and Final Fantasy series is just incredibly high. You walked a little bit and *bump*, another fight.... Done with the fight, walk a little bit and *bump*, another fight.....

But DQ series are mostly great and probably I will get this one. Too bad that Final Fantasy is going downhill....
2 years ago
No game could possibly be worse than Tales of Phantasia in regards to frequency of encounters, I still have nightmares about it. The weirdest part of it was you could actually get an item which would case you to encounter enemies MORE frequently, which pretty much meant every one or two steps.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/08/2010 (PreLoaded)
  UBI Soft
Year Made:

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