These are iOS ports of the Dragon Quest titles that first came out for Nintendo back in the 1990s. They’re highly polished ports and absolutely ideal for the iPhone screen. Since DQ IV, V and VI form a series (as DQ I, II and II also do) I’ll group them there.
Saving is made much easier in this series, with saving available in churches and QuickSave in the outdoors and some dungeon levels. Some of the other new features in these games include:
- Capture and train monsters – (DQV) as well as the ones in your party, you also carry some in your “wagon” – these will also gain exp from outdoor battles, though they don’t participate unless actively selected your four party members
- Casinos – you can gamble here, as well as play a cool game called Treasures’n’Trapdoors, you’ll pick up tickets for this throughout your journey
- AI battles – called “Tactics” – you can set some or all of your party members to fight automatically, and this can be adjusted to using or not using spells, focusing on healing, etc
- Mini medals – these are collectibles that can be exchanged for unique items once you find the Medal King. The items are useful but not critical or the most powerful
- Key levels – there are several levels of key, and when you get the final ones you can go back and open doors/treasure rooms etc in earlier towns
As an overall comment: they’re excellent games, but as with many JRPGs progress is quite linear. There’s also no quest log or wayfinding (though a fortune teller in DQ VI gives out some useful hints). As such, I have always found it necessary to use game guides, particularly in later stages of the game. Fortunately there are tonnes of excellent walkthroughs online, as well as maps.
Dragon Quest IV
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen is the first of the “Zenithia Trilogy” – based around a castle in the sky called Zenithia (which you don’t get to visit until the late game). Dragon Quest IV starts off rather unusually. The game is divided into several chapters, each of which you play as a different protagonist. In Chapter 5 you finally play as the hero and eventually recruit all the other characters.
- Chapter 1 – Ragnar, a soldier
- Chapter 2 – rebellious Princess Alena
- Chapter 3 – Merchant Tomeko (quite unusual gameplay)
- Chapter 4 – sisters Meena, a fortune teller and Maya, a dancer
- Chapter 5 – Hero
Dragon Quest V
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is a beautifully polished iOS port of the 1992 Nintendo/SNES JRPG. It has a long, engaging and quite moving story. You also get to choose a bride, and depending on whom you choose, your subsequent children will have your bride’s hair colour!
There’s a little bit of grinding, mainly to earn gold to buy better equipment, but overall it’s not too bad. It’s also feature rich.
Just a note when consulting walkthroughs: many of the town names are changed between different ports, so the iOS ones may be different to the ones you’ll find in maps and guides.
Dragon Quest VI
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is a huge game. The graphics also get a major upgrade from DQV. There’s a new slime fighting arena, a dressing contest (tediously slow) and an arcade machine mini-game.
Dragon Quest VI also introduces a class system: later in the game you can visit Alltrades Abbey and pick vocations for your characters. They master them after a certain number of battles, unlocking new skills. Then you can choose other vocations. Some vocations require several other classes to be mastered first.
In terms of grinding: I did find I needed to do quite a bit, but that may have been because I got through some earlier sections more quickly with guides. Essentially I needed to grind my Hero character up to the top level of the Hero vocation before taking on some megabosses. Once I did, the boss battles were slightly on the easy side so I may have overdone it. It depends how much challenge you like.
There is one character (Amos) whom you can only get if you give the right responses at a certain time. It’s not critical if you don’t get him – I didn’t use him in my party in the later stages – but it’s a bit of a shame to miss out on him altogether.