I was toying with writing some sort of Dragon Quest retrospective. You see I finished Dragon Quest 6 this week, itís obviously too late in the day to do a review of it, it came out over 2 years ago in Europe on the Nintendo DS, and itís way too late for a snes review. The truth is though that while Iíve played Dragon Quest 4, 5, 8 and 9 prior to 6 I still feel like anything I had to say on the series would be from the point of view of something akin to a novice. Itís a series with so much history, that reflects so much of of the times itís been through, that the combined effort of me and Wikipedia would only serve to annoy fans of the series.
What I will say about Dragon Quest 6 is that I think itís where the series stopped being as interesting narratively. The first Dragon Quest game I played was Dragon Quest 8, I liked 8, itís got a lot of humour to it, and some depth thanks to the skill system. The story is fairly run of the mill, thereís a slight twist but nothing that keeps you guessing. Dragon Quest 9, well I honestly couldnít tell you what the plot was to that game.
My favourite Dragon Quest is Dragon Quest 5, itís the first of the DS games I played and itís brilliant. The reason itís so good is because of the story it tells, well not so much the story itself but how it tells it, telling its tale over decades. Dragon Quest 4 does a similar thing, its subtitle is ĎChapters of the Chosení, and thatís exactly what it is.
Which brings us to Dragon Quest 6. If I was reviewing it itíd get a 6, probably a 5 had the last boss not been so enjoyable. The middle part of the game is a waste, dumping story for aimless wandering. The signposting is terrible, after the first third of the game youíre pretty much relying on a guide to tell you where to go next, trying to find places that half the time arenít even marked on the map. The job system ends up getting in the way, as do the extra characters, confusing things and upsetting the balance of the team.
The worst part though is that Dragon Quest 6 was when the games stopped being narratively interesting. I like Dragon Questís combat system, I like the kind of shallow depth of it, thereís not a load of systems to worry about, itís very old fashioned in that way, but thereís enough scope for battle plans. Dragon Quest 9 was great for that, it was really fun, but there wasnít much else to it. 6 on the other hand bogs itself down, abandoning the story for a good 20 hours, and when the story is just Ďkeep killing the bad guysí itís not like youíre on the hook for more.
6 is also the game where the aimless wandering and obscure solutions started to take hold. Dragon Quest 8 is too long in my opinion, but the only moment I actively hated involved a phoenix, I simply had no clue what I was supposed to be doing. Dragon Quest 6 is full of these moments, where vague directions like ďI heard there was a rundown castle in the north westĒ are the best you can hope for. Frankly it was enough that I wonít be getting Dragon Quest 7 should it ever come over here.
What I wanted to talk about though is that despite hating about 40 hours of my 70 hours with Dragon Quest 6 I still finished it. As Iíve mentioned numerous times I still havenít finished Disgaea, I want to, but finding the time and inclination to go back, despite really liking the game, itís just not happening. But for whatever reason I stuck with Dragon Quest 6 for the length of another jrpg despite no longer enjoying it. I assume itís a completionist trait, Iíve played/finished 4, 5, 8, and 9, might as well finish 6 so Iíve done all the English ports. Itís stupid and counter productive, continually playing something youíre not enjoying because you want to say to yourself you finished it? When I look at my backlog of unfinished games from this year; The Last of Us, DmC Devil May Cry, Tomb Raider, The Wonderful 101, I could have finished any 2 of them in the time I spent hating Dragon Quest 6. I even put stuff on the backburner (like The Wonderful 101), playing DQ6 instead of it because I wanted to get it done. Stupid
Hereís the thing though, Iíd be willing to bet thereís a few people who would read this nodding along, knowing theyíve done exactly the same