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Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (DS) artwork

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (DS) review


"Though Dragon Quest VI features an interesting and surprisingly complex plot, that’s not actually its most impressive accomplishment. The game probably could have done just as well without doing anything interesting with its plot because the real appeal comes from its impressive scope, its ingenuity and its remarkable depth."



Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is that rare RPG that feels too long and entirely too short all at once. It feels too long because 30 or 40 hours into the whole affair, you’re still not sure when it’s going to end and common sense tells you that it already should have. It feels too short because even when you top 50 hours and you finally defeat the last great evil threatening the land, it feels like you’ve hardly played at all. In other words, the game is that rare RPG that feels just about perfect.

The story begins with what you might suppose is a sneak peak at its conclusion. A group of three friends spend a few moments huddled around a campfire, then leave to storm an evil castle where the villainous Murdaw awaits their arrival. Armed with powerful weaponry and infused with a sense of justice, the friends finally corner the fiend in his throne room. They draw their weapons, ready to fight to the death, but instead they are lifted into the air like rag dolls. Their bodies are turned to stone, their souls flung to the ether. They will not know victory that evening, only despair.

So the story starts again, an indeterminate number of hours, days, weeks or months later. .. or is it sooner? The timeline in Dragon Quest VI can be difficult to track. What matters is that the new story begins properly, with a young boy in a village. That young man heads down a treacherous mountain trail to retrieve a wooden crown for a harvest festival celebration, only to find that the man who can craft it has gone missing. The hero seeks him out and eventually finds him, but an accident takes place and the boy falls through a massive hole in the ground. Mishaps like that happen to heroes sometimes, so the fall barely counts as a surprise. What’s surprising is that the young boy lands on the ground in one piece. He gets up, dusts himself off and wanders to the nearest village (which isn’t that far away), only to find that just about no one can see him. Is he a ghost? Has he died? The answers to those questions aren’t as simple as they might seem. In the process of seeking out the truth of who he is and what has happened to him, the young man will eventually embark on an epic quest that finds him traveling freely between two worlds, joined by an increasingly large cast of friends that appear to include some of the very same people who tried to take down Murdaw all those… days ago? Years ago?

Though Dragon Quest VI features an interesting and surprisingly complex plot, that’s not actually its most impressive accomplishment. The game probably could have done just as well without doing anything interesting with its plot because the real appeal comes from its impressive scope, its ingenuity and its remarkable depth.

When you start playing and the little map on the top screen starts to fill in, the world seems quite large. You don’t know the half of it, though. After you fall down the hole near the start of the game, you land on a whole new map and the top screen makes it clear that you haven’t yet explored any of it. You find yourself looking at a second map, equally large. Some of the towns are the same as they were on the first map, with people who are vaguely familiar. Other destinations are all-new. It’s up to you to sort out what’s what and it’s up to you to find the connections between the two worlds.

Big is good, but the worlds in Dragon Quest VI are noteworthy because they’re also masterfully designed. At first it can seem like there are numerous stray mountain ranges, forests, swamps and deserts that are placed where they are for no discernible reason. That’s even true in some cases, but you’ll eventually come to appreciate the fact that nearly every corner of the world map serves a purpose even if you don’t see it for 20 hours. A line of trees doesn’t seem significant as you wander a lonely coast on foot, but when you come back later on a flying carpet and you’re trying to pass across that coast on the way to a new city you just learned about, suddenly those trees mean a lot more than they once did. They mean another cave or a trip to a parallel world or even other things that video game critics have no right to spoil. If you’re someone who appreciates the art of quality game design, odds are good that you’ll find yourself stopping to savor the awesome at many points throughout your epic journey.

Another bit of good news is that the lengthy quest and huge worlds give your characters plenty of time to grow in an extremely practical sense. You begin with just the one character, but he joins up with magic users and warriors and eventually even monsters (though you can no longer simply recruit monsters on a whim as you could in Dragon Quest V). Each character who you find or recruit can take advantage of the game’s equivalent of the traditional class system, known here as the “vocation” system.

The way the vocation system works is that a given character levels up a particular vocation and learns new abilities that he wouldn’t be able to master if he were following a different profession. For instance, as a warrior he might learn an ability that allows him to attack twice in a round. As a martial artist, perhaps he’ll learn to go on a violent rampage that randomly targets friends and foes alike. As a mage, he could master devastating spells. The options that vocations permit grow even more interesting as you discover that you can switch vocations almost any time you like. It’s only possible to learn the finest moves in the game if you take the time to follow all sorts of career paths and that takes the sort of time that a briefer quest wouldn’t allow.

Graphically, the game is more difficult to commend except as a model for efficiency. Environments have improved significantly since the game was originally released on the Super Nintendo, but this isn’t a game that is ready to spend much time focusing on flash over substance. With only a few exceptions, it looks no better than the (admittedly beautiful) DS ports of Dragon Quest IV and Dragon Quest V did before it. You’ll see a few especially stunning sequences throughout, but those sequences only stand out precisely because they’re uncommon. It’s clear that the developers devoted more of their resources to making your time enjoyable than they did making things pretty.

Substance over style may seem like a risky design choice in this day and age, but it has clearly worked wonders for Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation. Between a complex plot, a massive quest that spans multiple worlds and character customization that keeps the player curious about what other skills he might learn even after he beats the boss and heads into the post-game content, Dragon Quest VI is a solid contender for the RPG crown. Make no mistake; this is the one that you can’t afford to miss.

Rating: 10/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (March 15, 2011)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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CoarseDragon posted March 15, 2011:

I completely agree this game is a 10. I would liked to have seen a bit more of a nod to recruiting the Slimes. Perhaps in the paragraph where you mention monsters from DQV.

I like what you have in this review and having finished this game I know you barely scratched the surface. There is the arena where you can fight Slime-on-Slime for major prizes. The casino has some of the best equipment in the game for sale. And the Style contest is lots of fun with cool prizes to win.
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honestgamer posted March 15, 2011:

I've been writing a guide for the game, which I only have to revise before I submit it to my editor. Personally, I've much more than scratched the surface of the game, but when I started writing the review it came down to covering what I felt was most important, what I felt in a review could be communicated convincingly to readers who haven't had the opportunity to play the game for themselves.

The features you talk about are cool and certainly don't hurt the game, but they're not the sort of thing that can properly be communicated in a review in a way that makes someone who hasn't experienced the game realize just how cool they are.

Thanks for reading!
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joseph_valencia posted March 15, 2011:

Great review. Can't think of a better way to encapsulate the DQ6 experience, but maybe I'll try.
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CoarseDragon posted March 15, 2011:

I agree and you did a fine job of pointing out the highlights of the game. It was just when I read the review it reminded me of the many things I enjoyed in the game.
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threetimes posted March 21, 2011:

Very nice review. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the game and I like the way you explain things without giving too much away.
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honestgamer posted March 21, 2011:

Thanks, everyone! The agreement and compliments are gratifying. I wanted to give Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation the best review that I could, as a sort of way to finish off my "Zenithia Trilogy" series of reviews for the DS games here at HonestGamers. People liked the previous two reviews and it's a relief that they like this one, as well. I'm worried that if someday I get around to playing and reviewing Dragon Quest IX, my review won't stack up and I'll regret it... but I might give it a shot, anyway. After all, I already own that game. I just don't have time to play it anytime soon.
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overdrive posted March 21, 2011:

Twas an excellent review. I'm still not sure whether I'd pick V or VI as the best old-school DQ game. VI had awesome character customizing and a lot of neat things. V had the superior plot, as it was focused almost completely around the hero and his family. VI could be a bit less focused, as various parts were designed around specific characters, giving it more of an unfocused ensemble story at times.

Still, both are great games.
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darketernal posted March 22, 2011:

As someone who played the original game, is this port worth to play through once more? I loved the game, but I also remember it was quite long, so before I put hours and hours into it, besides a graphical update, are there new improvements to the actual game that make it worth it?
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CoarseDragon posted March 22, 2011:

Every name is the game has changed. A new mini game called Slippin' Slime has been added. You only get to recruit a handfull of Slimes not like the original where you could recruit many monsters. All-in-all probably not, although I had fun with the game and, if you enjoyed the characters, have cash to spare and want to check out the new graphics then it is worth the buy - once the price comes down. Nintendo did not make good use of the stylus, reduced game world size and overall made the game easier by reducing monster hit points (not all of them but quite a few).

I only bought the game because I am sort of a collector of DQ games and I just love DQ games.

Hope that helps some.
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joseph_valencia posted March 23, 2011:

This port is the first professional localization of DQ6, and the script is really nice. The decade-old NoProgress patch of the SNES version was never finished, so it had about 10% of the script untranslated, not to mention a nasty menu bug that crashes the game.

The gameplay tweaks to this version aren't as significant as the ones made to DQ4 and DQ5. Everything up until Murdaw/Mudo has been rebalanced to cut down on grinding, so the pace is much faster. You also no longer have to master every job to unlock the bonus dungeon. Like most other DQ games, it's unlocked after you load your cleared save. Monster taming has been completely overhauled…removed actually. Aside from Lizzie/Drago, you only recruit slimes, and they appear as NPCs in towns and such. This makes the slime tournament sidequest less troublesome. And like every other DS remake of the Zenithian Trilogy, the interface is streamlined and much more user friendly than the originals.

Even if you've played the SNES version, I think the DS version is worth checking out.
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overdrive posted March 23, 2011:

Cutting out the non-slime monster recruiting for the DS version is actually a good idea, since you have (assuming you get Amos) seven human party members by the game's end.

When I played the No Progress patch on the SNES, I remember that monster recruiting caused my main grinding point to be right before the second big demon (Jamiras or something like that). I like characters to have the best equipment at all times, so it took earning a crap-ton of money to do that for six humans and the couple monsters I had. It didn't help how that boss was pretty damn tough, too.
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CoarseDragon posted March 23, 2011:

You can get Amos. Later in the game you can rename everyone if you want to. So you can give them the old NES names.
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wolfqueen001 posted July 21, 2011:

Man, I've been playing this game practically since you sent it to me, and I just "finished" it (aside from a few post game stuff) the other day. Frankly, this game is amazing and absolutely does deserve the score, though part of me kind of toggles between 9 and 10 simply because of the game's sheer length, which did start to grate on me a little despite how fascinating the story was.

Like many others way before now have said, this is an amazing review and reflects my own thoughts almost exactly, so I may not write a review after all. If I did, I may put a bit more emphasis on plot, since I found that more interesting than the vocation system, which was good, but I've also found that it can make some characters samey if you decide to make them take multiple paths... Perhaps that was a mistake I made on my play through, since I was really just trying to balance everyone out to some degree, as the really tough bosses tended to wipe my mages out in one turn on occasion. But... I dunno. Overall the system is fantastic, the story very in-depth and the battles quite challenging. My thing about reviewing this would be that I'd want to takl a little bit about some of the stuff that might be considered spoilers... at least a little briefly. Like, mention the wells and the discovering who the characters are bit. Not any big reveals, but more than you mention, and I love the way you alluded to the other world without spoiling anything. That was truly masterful.
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honestgamer posted July 21, 2011:

I'm glad that you enjoyed the review, WQ. When someone posts a staff review on a site like this, there's a certain obligation to cover all of the pertinent bases, and that requires brevity where otherwise a user review might go into more depth regarding certain aspects. It's definitely a challenge to balance everything well, which is why it can be so helpful to have multiple reviews posted. It was exciting to me personally to be able to send the game out to someone who I knew might enjoy it, which is why I set up that contest the way I did. Dragon Quest VI is a great game and I wish more people knew it than do.

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