Since the Dragon Quest IV
remake for the DS came out a few days earlier in Australia and Europe than in the US, I've been playing it for quite a while now and thought I share some impressions.
First off, the game is pretty huge - I'm currently 30 hours into it and there are still parts of the world map I haven't explored. And most importantly, it is fun. The overall plot may be nothing special, but the chapter structure works really nice and adds a good deal of variety to the first half of the game (I especially liked the Torneko Taloon chapter) and an epic feel to the second half. There are also day-night cycles, a feature that I like very much in RPGs.
The difficulty is perfect so far. Some of the bosses are quite challenging, but with the right strategy you can beat them even without much grinding. Also, there are no Game Overs - when you die, you lose half of your money and are resurrected in a nearby town, but you keep your items and experience. Later in the game, you can deposit your money at a bank.
I love the visual style. It's detailed, colorful and makes good use of the limited 3D capabilities of the DS. You can play most of it like a classic 2D JRPG, but in many locations, like towns, you can spin the view around with the shoulder buttons, which is in a way pretty amazing.
The interface is very user-friendly. Party and inventory management is a piece of cake, and magic spells enable instant traveling between towns and minimizing of random battles. You can only save the games in churches, but there is a quick save feature if you have to interrupt your playing session.
One thing that pisses me off a little is that the party talk feature from the Japanese version is missing in the European release (and probably the US one too). I know it's not essential, but it's said to add a lot of atmosphere and characterization. I mean, we wait seven months for a localization and then stuff is taken out
? Not nice.
But that's about the only bad thing I can say about this game right now (that and that the focus is on the bottom screen all the time, which I find wearisome to the eyes in non-stylus games, but that's a matter of taste I guess). Dragon Quest IV
for the DS is simply fun, a pleasant and enjoyable experience.