(Enix, October 1992)

Although the Dragon Warrior (or Dragon Quest, whatever they want to call it now) series is one of the most popular set of video games in Japan, very few gamers actually got the chance to play these great Role Playing Games over here and that's too bad. It certainly doesn't make much cents since Dragon Warrior IV is easily one of the best RPG's on the mega popular NES. Here is a look back at one of most underrated games in the 8-bit era.

This very popular Japanese series takes a very unique turn in part 4. Instead one giant single quest, you play several different stories in one huge 4 Meg RPG game. You get to control the destiny of interesting characters like a soldier who befriends monsters, a merchant looking to be a shop owner, a tomboy Princess looking for adventure, a couple of sisters looking to avenge their father's death, and finally there is the traditional blue knight hero with the default name. After you found all of the characters the team comes together in the last chapter to fight the new evil that threatens the land.

You start off the game as Ragnar, a lone soldier looking for the lost children of Burland. His mission plays a lot like previous the Dragon Warriors because you have to search through caves and talk to the locals to find the answers you're looking for. The only difference here is that Ragnar can find a monster friend that can help him on his dangerous mission.

After Ragnar is done his quest the game then shifts to a story about a rebellious young Princess named Alena. Like in each new chapter, Alena must start her mission with no experience but in her quest two protectors/friends will aid you so now you have a bigger team to fight with plus near the end of the chapter you'll be introduced to the fighting tournament and even a Casino. It's true! There is even a Casino in this game believe it or not. The DW 4 Casino lets you play Poker, 1 to 5 coin Slot machines, and you can even bet on monster fights to see if you can earn some extra cash. This is a great detraction if you get tired of all the monster encounters. Why not just relax and gamble some of your money away?

After Alena's big quest is completed the story then moves to a quiet little town where a common working man is looking to make it big in the business world. "Yes, we are still talking about a DW game here!" Taloon is not your average hero because he's a stalky and well rounded 200 pound man, who has a wife and kid. Another thing about him is that he rather sell and get rid of the powerful weapon and armour for cash then wield them for combat.  Taloon's quest is a very refreshing approach to the standard stuff we have seen in Role Playing Games before. Taloon chapter was so fun and so popular that he was able to get his own game.

In the next chapter the game takes a more serious role as two sisters search for their father's killer. These two sisters also have classes I don't think I ever seen in a RPG before. The older sister Nara is a Fortune Teller while the younger sister Mara is a Dancer. Here we learn more about evil forces that wish to conquer the world here.

If you played any one of the other Dragon Warrior games on the NES then these ugly graphics should come as no surprise. The characters are all little fat figures with little detail and limited animation, your enemies don't move during fight scenes so you're fighting pieces of artwork, plus the backgrounds are as dull as ever with flat and dull colours that are a real eye sore.

Like the graphics, the music isn't too great either especially if you are spoiled but the over the top soundtracks in most Role Playing Games today. To be fair to the Dragon Warrior series, the graphics and sound were never the game's focus point. The heart of the DW series lies in the character building game play and at least Enix here gives us different background music for each warrior.

Sadly, the company behind the Dragon Warrior (Enix) games may be the ones to blame for the game's lack of popularity. When we mention the name Enix, some are very angry with that company for cancelling both the mega successful Dragon Warrior V & VI for a North American release. It was a mistake so big that it allowed Square soft (makers of Final Fantasy) to become the top name Role Playing video games and Enix was never able regain ground over here! Although it was cool to see the return of the series with Dragon Warrior VII (Playstation) and Dragon Warrior Monsters I & II (Game boy Color), and more DW games, these new games here failed to make much of a impact like they did in Japan. I only hope with the merger of both Enix and Square that maybe the DW series will get the respect it deserves.

Sure, the graphics still look the same as Dragon Warrior one that awful music will drive you nuts, and that interface is a little slow at times but if you look past all that you're still looking at the ultimate RPG for the NES here. The game has interesting characters with their own reasons to fight, there is a fun little Casino here to kill some time, and this is still a Dragon Warrior game after all so the challenge factor is definitely there too. Some hardcore RPG fans may prefer the class system found in Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior III where players can select their perfect team from the start but you have to admire the originality of this game's massive story. There is little replay value after the game is fully completed like in most games of this type but still Dragon Warrior IV is yet fine example of Enix's grand RPG expertise. If you do manage to track down this rare game, Dragon Warrior IV will prove to be a pleasant surprise for Role Playing fans.



*Rare NES game
*Battery back up game

overall rating: 87/100

For 1 player only
graphics: 2/10
sound: 4/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 7/10

(Ryan Genno) 2003

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