Dragon Quest VI

A hero and his companions venture to the castle of an evil lord named Mudo, only to mysteriously disappear and separate. The hero soon awakens in his hometown and performs a few tasks for his village, during which he discovers a mysterious world below his own where he, for some reason, is a ghost. He ultimately finds his lost companions and begins to piece together the mystery of what exactly happened to them at Mudo’s castle and what lies below his world. Dragon Quest VI, for the Super Famicom, was another installment of Enix’s series that never made it to North America given that their American branch was closed at the time, a shame, since it’s one of the best installments of the series.

Enemies are, like in most installments of the series, randomly encountered, with the player controlling an active party of up to four characters. A carriage that can hold four other characters ultimately allows players to swap out allies as desired on the overworld and in a select few dungeons. As for combat itself, the player inputs commands for all characters (or allows party A.I. to control characters other than the hero), and lets them and the enemy beat up each other in a round. As usual, turn order can annoyingly vary, although luckily, combat is, in most instances, fairly fast-paced.

Enhancing the pace of combat some time into the game is a diverse class system allowing each character to learn new skills after fighting a certain number of battles. Mastering certain classes can allow characters to access higher-level classes for more potent skills, even some useful ones that don’t consume MP. Despite this, Dragon Quest VI is by no means an easy game; some bosses can easily slaughter the player’s party, and if classes aren’t chosen wisely, the player might have to spend a while mastering classes to gain sufficient skills to advance the game. One class also allows players to capture certain monsters for use in the party, although this plays a much lesser role than in the fifth installment. All in all, Dragon Quest VI features an effective battle system, with the class system shining the most.

The interface is mostly easy to get a handle of, with clean menus and even a sack into which the player can put excess items (eliminating the need for depositories). There are, however, still some annoyances inherited from previous installments, such as the endless confirmations and dialogue when shopping as well as a lack of direction at many points on how to advance the main storyline. All in all, interaction does have its share of flaws, although these by no means break the game.

Dragon Quest VI naturally derives some elements from its predecessors, although it does manage to remain fresh with elements such as the unique class system and by extent the storyline. The plot itself shows strong potential and even has its high points, such as a decently-developed protagonist, some other interesting characters, and the idea of two worlds, although it unfortunately suffers from flaws such as poor pacing and shallow development at times. Still, the story is by no means bad, and doesn’t detract severely from the game.

Koichi Sugiyama, as usual, provides a fitting soundtrack with hardly a weak track, although the series’ typical dated sound effects recur. The visuals, too, are a definite step above those in the fifth installment, with vibrant colors and environments, decent sprites, and animate enemies in battle for a change; still the player’s battle party is still invisible, though the visuals are nonetheless well above average. Overall, Dragon Quest VI both sounds and looks nice.

Finally, playing time can prove to be lengthy, as little as thirty hours if the player’s lucky or up to seventy-five hours if the player takes time to master classes for each character and try the extra dungeon accessible after beating the game. Overall, Dragon Quest VI is a solid installment of the series, with a nice class system, graphics, and music, among other things. It does have some flaws in interaction and its story, although the game is enjoyable nonetheless. While it’s never seen the light in North America, the sixth installment, given the franchise’s long history of remakes, might yet see a future reincarnation.

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