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I Can Count to Nine: A Journey through Dragon Quest - Part 4

Week Nine


Dragon Warrior IV (NES)

We travel now to a new world, where a new story is about to begin. The master of monsterkind is about to awaken, but the world is destined to be saved by a child of the heavens... but let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, we'll tell the stories of those who will accompany the hero...

Now we go back, back in time... back to the NES again, back to games with "Warrior" in the title. As much as I'd like to play the excellent DS remake of Dragon Quest IV, the object of this project being to play together that's really not possible. Dragon Warrior IV is a great and ambitious NES RPG with lots of personality and one major flaw: forced AI party members. This setup might sorta work on regular encounters, but it doesn't even come close to working against bosses. This game also suffers from what we've dubbed the "ineffective" problem - attacks directed at a group that expires before that character's turn comes up will simply fail, rather than retargeting. Oh well, we knew what we were getting into, going back to the NES. It's fortunate that this 1992 limited NES release exists at all.

~Dragon Warrior IV: A play in five acts~

Act One: Save All Children
Wherein an embarassingly incompetent royal army is damn lucky Ragnar was around

Starring Ragnar McRyan:

Week Twelve

Four down, five to go. I'm honestly surprised we managed to power through IV this quickly.

DWIV is a game with loads of character and a technical marvel unrivaled on the NES (The ending contains a parallax effect, even though the NES has just one layer!) . It's just too bad Enix thought it'd be a good idea to remove control of party members from the player. I mean, strategy? Who needs it, right?

*After getting the Magic Key offa Balzack's corpse, pilfered the Magma Staff, allowing us to move mountains for the third time and reach...

*...Gardenbur, the queendom of women. There we were ludicrously accused of stealing a shiny thing of theirs; they knew we didn't do it, but held one of the party (Taloon) hostage so that we'd go catch the real thief since they were too lazy. Lame. Not lame: Getting the Final Key and the Zenithian Shield for our troubles.

*Did an optional dungeon - let's call it waterfall cave - to get the game's best weapon, the Metal Babble Sword.

*Headed to Rosaville to learn Saro's backstory. The reason he wants to kill everybody is because humans tortured his elf girlfriend Rosa, hoping to get rich off of her ruby tears. Nasty! He also makes a bunch of sentient animal friends using the Secret of Evolution. He's still evil, though, and has to be stopped, about which even Rosa sobbingly agrees. Man, out of everybody in this story she gets it the worst.

*After getting the staff of transform in another dungeon, we climbed to the top of an enormous statue, and at the top we found... controls. Hell yes! Unfortunately, the only thing you get to do with the Colossus is walk across a river so as to spy on Saro's lame little monster meeting. It turns out the Ruler of Evil is about to be resurrected back in...

*The mine town of Aktemto. Here we fought Esturk, the Ruler of Evil, more commonly known throughout the series as Estark. He starts the battle asleep, but he's so badass that even his snoring does massive damage. We were unable to beat him without a *LOT* of grinding, and as we'll eventually see, there's no way we'd have been able to stand up to him had he been at full strength.

*Our reward for beating the mighty Estark is... a can of gas. O...kay? Some guy makes a balloon for us, allowing us to fly to Yggdrasil the great World Tree, a tree so big it's a dungeon itself, although not a tough one because you can pick world tree leaves for free revival at any point! At the top, we found a Zenithian and the Zenithian Sword.

*After a trip to the castle on a cloud named Zenithia, we got to descend through a hole straight to Hell, where Necrosaro awaited. The final battle is equal parts nasty and impressive, as Saro's horrible form continues to mutate in disgusting ways throughout the fight.

For the vast majority of Chapter Five, our active party was Ivy-Ragnar-Alena-Cristo. We kept this party right up until the final boss. Now, we certainly thought that Cristo, posessing a variety of useful spells including Revive and HealUs, would be a moral lock for the final boss. We thought this until we actually tried it. You see, no matter how many times we put him in front of a blackboard with the words "INSTANT DEATH SPELLS = NOT FOR BOSSES, YOU UTTER NINCOMPOOP" on it, he remains undeterred in this pursuit. So it was that he cast Defeat on Necrosaro EVERY SINGLE FRIGGIN' TURN until he ran out of MP. We got our butts kicked, and how. Dismayed, we did what we probably should have done long ago and tossed him from the active party. But we had a hard time figuring out whom to replace him with... because we dislike the way the AI manages MP, we stayed away from spellcasters, so Mara and Brey were right out. Nara was too Cristo-lite to warrant serious consideration. We gave Doran, an NPC baby dragon you get near the end, a shot but without equipment he just couldn't hold up. That left...

That left... him.

We probably aren't the first people to beat Necrosaro with a party including Torneko Taloon, but I can't imagine we have much company, with his unimpressive stats and in-battle random antics. He didn't contribute THAT much to the fight, but you know what? His modest damage output was one hell of a lot better than Cristo's Defeat spell every turn. In fairness to Cristo, he was the only wagon member to play a part in the fight (you are allowed to switch in members during the final battle), getting pulled in briefly to revive Taloon and take a couple of hits in Ragnar's stead. It wasn't an impressive victory, with both Alena and Torneko dead when Necrosaro finally fell, but fall he did. We beat the game at a party level of nearly forty.

Highlights from the Imperial Scrolls of Honor:
*The inventor who makes the balloon is REALLY excited about it. I've never had anyone so grateful when I've given them gas.

*I can't make this stuff up department: A voice from the top of Yggdrasil shouts "Help! And come in groups of three or fewer!" It's not often cries for help are so usefully precise.

*We alllllMOST managed to bring down a Metal King Slime, only to have Taloon's "Everybody calm down!" effect trigger and end the fight with no experience. Uncannily, this happened just moments after I joked that it would suck if that happened. I imagine it went like this:

Torneko: Okay! Everybody calm down! Let's not rush, we've got to think how we want to finish this battle... What? What's everyone staring at?

Ivy (shaking with rage): It... just hopped away...

Torneko: Oh! Well! I guess me work here is done, then! Uh... why are ye all looking at me like that? ...oh, fiddlesticks.


For Ragnar MacRyan, saving the world was just the latest entry in a lifelong r�sum� of baddassery. He returned to an adoring Burland that would be lost without him, and went on to found the Ragnar MacRyan Save All Children foundation, dedicated to helping underprivileged children, providing them with fine wooden hats, and teaching them to grow ferociously manly mustaches. Yes, even the girls.

Princess Alena, having kicked a great many things including several critical kicks to Necrosaro himself, no longer had any problems with respect upon her homecoming, her feats now legendary. Indeed, the "King" was now a formality; It was Alena who ruled over Santeem with an iron boot. Brey retired from wizardry to focus on being a full time incorrigible old coot. Cristo eventually worked up the courage to ask Alena to marry him; he was surprised when, after laughing for a good five minutes, she agreed. He is bruised but happy.

Torneko Taloon returned to his wife and very young son at his shop in Endor. There was a quiet genius about this man, who stayed uncomplainingly in the background but was ready when called upon for heroism. Unbeknownst to the party, he had become extremely wealthy running an arms shop out of the wagon as they traveled the world; after consuming a few too many lunches, he spent this fortune on the construction of an enormous money bin in Endor. He dedicated the rest of his life to filling it by any means possible.

Mara and Nara never played a major role in the quest to save the world, but they got their revenge; more importantly, they got experience, tales to tell, and a reputation that made them the most popular entertainers in the world when they returned to Monbaraba. Unfortunately they never really accumulated wealth to go with their fame due to a persistent gambling problem.

Ivy went back to her ruined village, where her friend Celia is inexplicably resurrected. This one is from the game, not me.
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About tim333one of us since 5:53 PM on 12.11.2007

Regarding my 1001games project: There's only one deadline. I haven't hit it yet!

I'm a 90s gamer and Sega kid for life. I like platformers, adventure games and JRPGs. I'm not that into first-person shooters or sports games.

I spend more of my time playing older games than new ones. I do have a PS3 now, though, and I like buying games on PSN. I like the Wii and have a ton of games for it. I'm encouraged by some of the stuff out on Wiiware - to me, games like Bit.Trip Beat are more appealing than the "triple-A" titles coming out on the HD consoles.

Some of my all-time favorite games are Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Dragon Quest III, Heroes of Might and Magic III, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Dance Dance Revolution.