It took a little while, but I’ve finally finished the sixth entry in the Dragon Quest saga, the aptly named Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation. This is one of the games in the series that was not initially released in the west. Dragon Quest VI first hit the scene in Japan back in 1995 as a Super Famicom title. But for one reason or another, fans would have to wait until 2011 for the game to finally be localized and re-released in English on the Nintendo DS.
For those interested in playing this game, the DS release is likely to be your best experience. Of course, the DS is now a dead platform, so that can be problematic for some. There is a mobile version available for iPhone and Android devices. But personally, I don’t care much for mobile phone gaming. Still, the option is there if you have no other choice. As is the case with the other DS releases, the translation for the game is very well done. But a good portion of the dialogue was censored to meet Nintendo’s standards at the time. I still pine for the day when we might receive a definitive collection of the first six Dragon Quest titles. But, until that time, we are limited by the options at our disposal. For this review, I played the DS version.
Each Dragon Quest title so far has been a standalone game. This entry is no exception. The game begins with a band of heroes raiding a fortress. After searching the castle, they find the person they are looking for, the demon-king Murdaw. During the battle with Murdaw, each one of the heroes are defeated and the scene fades to black. What follows next is the main hero waking up in his bed. It seems that the events in the opening were nothing more than a dream… or were they? This is where the game really begins. Players take control of the main hero as he runs errands for the town elder. As you might expect, these errands end up leading to an adventure that takes the hero to the far reaches of his world, and even to a mysterious phantom realm that might hold the clues to both his mysterious dreams and his true identity.
If you’ve played any of the other Dragon Quest games thus far, than you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect with this title. Dragon Quest VI follows the standard JRPG formula of a colorful over-head view combined with a turn-based combat system. Players control a main hero as well as a rotating party of characters. Each character levels independently and as they gain in levels they learn new skills and abilities. Experience points are earned through combat. So level grinding to get over difficult challenges is a common tactic.
Recent games in the Dragon Quest series have had some sort of gimmick to set them apart from other entries. For example, Dragon Quest IV was a collection of stories about various heroes. While, Dragon Quest V followed a single character throughout various part of their lifetime. This game returns the series to a much more linear from of storytelling. The unique mechanics about this game tend to focus around the ability to travel between the real world and the “phantom realm” (aka: an alternate dimension). Also, this game brings back the job system from Dragon Quest III, although with much more refinement.
The jobs (or classes) available in Dragon Quest VI are as follows:
Warrior: Your basic fighting class.
Martial Artist: Unarmed, but powerful combatant.
Mage: Your basic magic-user class. Has access to most spells.
Priest: Your basic healing class. Uses magical spells to heal and buff the party.
Dancer: Dance-based fighter.
Thief: A useful class that can steal from monsters and also has abilities that are handy outside of combat.
Monster Master*: Can use abilities learned from various monsters
Merchant: A jack-of-all trades that helps the party accumulate wealth faster.
Gadabout: A chaotic class that often refuses to attack or executes random status ailments instead.
Gladiator: A combination of the Warrior and Martial Artist. Arguably the best combat class in the game.
Armamentalist: Combination of Warrior and Mage. An interesting class that combines magic and melee attacks.
Paladin: Combination of Priest and Martial Artist. This class combines melee attacks with healing magic.
Sage: Combination of Mage and Priest. Has access to strong magic from both classes.
Luminary: A hybrid of Dancer and Gadabout. Able to charm monsters and has access to various debuffs.
Ranger: Combination of Thief, Monster Master and Merchant. Odd mixture of combat, magic and utility classes. Learns a handful of useful skills.
Hero: This is the pinnacle class in Dragon Quest VI. It’s a combination of Gladiator, Sage, Luminary and Ranger. (Although the main hero only needs to master one of those to unlock it.) Has access to some of the most powerful skills in the game.
*The original SNES version of the game was popular for also allowing the player to recruit various monsters into the party as a perk of the Monster Master class. However, this mechanic was removed in the DS release. Instead, it was replaced with the ability to recruit only slimes. With some variant slimes being exclusive to the DS release.
As you can probably tell, the job system is a big part of the game’s mechanics and strategy. Fans of Dragon Quest III will immediately be familiar with the classes that are playable in this game. But, there are also a number of new classes that are unique to this chapter.
Aside from the job system, this game plays very much like any other entry in the series. The DS version included a few new pieces of content, but to be honest they ended up feeling rather gimmicky. For example, the Slippin’ Slime mini-game uses the stylus to navigate a slime while it glides down a racecourse. There’s also a side quest that uses the wifi communication feature of the DS to collect trading cards that can be used to recruit a special slime companion. Sadly, this quest is almost impossible to complete today due to the difficulty of finding other DQ6 players. (It is important to note, that this quest was modified for the mobile release to remove the multi-player aspect.)
As far as games go, Dragon Quest VI is a solid JRPG. But when stacked up against other games in the series, it doesn’t really shine. Players interested in Dragon Quest lore will still want to play this final chapter of the Zenithia Trilogy. But it would be hard to recommend this game to someone just checking out the series for the first time.
Version Reviewed: Nintendo DS
Difficulty: Medium – This game starts off a little rough but gets easier as you progress.. During my playthrough I died quite a few times in the early part of the game. However, dying has very little consequence as you are able to restart in a nearby town. As the game progresses, the stakes do increase a bit when it comes to a full party wipe. Grinding and experimenting with various classes is the key to this game.
Multiplayer: DS version has a multiplayer mini-game.
Story: This game features a well written and interesting story, but it’s not an intriguing as some of the other chapters in the game. It didn’t hook me the way that DQ4 or DQ5 did.
Originality: Many of the core gameplay concepts in this title have been seen before. Some of the older mechanics have a bit more polish this time around, but there’s really nothing completely new added to formula with this game.
Soundtrack: As expected, this game contains some amazing classical-style compositions. It’s been true for every game in the series so far, and this one is no exception.
Fun: Dragon Quest fans are the primary audience for this game. All of the classic JRPG gameplay that fans expect is present here but it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as some of the other chapters in the series.
Graphics: DQ6 continues the tradition of Akira Toriyama’s art direction. This is seen in all of the promotional materials for the original Japanese release and it carries over into the game itself. The graphics for the original famicom release do seem a bit better than DQ5. But for those of us in the west, that doesn’t really matter. The DS/mobile releases, are hands-down the best looking versions of the game. Most of the monster/character art actually looks hand drawn in the remasters and the rest of the graphics are vibrant and colorful as well.
Playcontrol: No real complaints. This is a turn-based game that doesn’t rely too heavily of precise controls.
Downloadable Content: No.
Mature Content: N/A
Value: Getting your hands on a copy of this game is going to be a little tough. DS titles are getting difficult to come by and any place that still has a sealed copy is likely going to sell it at an inflated price. I’ve seen some new copies go for $100-$200. Used copies don’t fare much better, usually selling for $40-$75. As much as it pains me to admit it, most players may have to turn to the mobile port to enjoy this game at a reasonable price. Hopefully, we will see an affordable digital release of the game on a proper system at some point in the future.
Overall score (1-100): 80 – Make no mistake, Dragon Quest VI is a good game. But there’s plenty of other JRPGs and even other Dragon Quest games that outshine it. But to be honest, it’s really hard to top the majesty that was Dragon Quest V.
Original System: Super Famicom (Japanese SNES)
Available today on: iOS/Android – (Updated as of Early Winter 2023)
Best Experience: iOS/Android – (Updated as of Early Winter 2023)
Other Reviews In This Series:
Dragon Quest Swords – Dragon Quest Heroes – Dragon Quest Heroes II
Dragon Quest Builders – Dragon Quest Builders II