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"There's an old, old legend of an angel swooping down from the sky to the northern mountains. She fell in love with a young woodcutter, and a beautiful baby was born to them.... What happened to the baby? I have absolutely no idea. I'm sure it's just a faerie story, anyway."
The fourth Dragon Quest game, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (DS title) kicks off the Zenithian trilogy with a distinctive twist on the usual Chosen Heroes plot... by having the player step into the shoes of each of the Chosen Ones in turn, rather than dumping you into the role of Hello, Insert Name Here and sending you off at the start. Our heroic roster:
Ragnar McRyan, Royal Knight of Burland.
Tsarevna Alena, the TomboyTsarevna of Zamoksva (Santeem in the NES version).
Borya (Brey in the NES verison), elderly wizard and Alena's long-suffering retainer.
Kiryl (Cristo in the NES version), Priest-in-Training and Alena's childhood friend.
Torneko Taloon, a merchant who dreams of owning his own shop.
Maya (Mara in the NES version), a travelingdancer and talented spellcaster.
The game thrives on And Now for Someone Completely Different, introducing you to each of the chosen in turn and adventuring with them, learning what drives them and seeing how their story goes before the call catches up with them.Originally for the NES, Dragon Quest IV was notably the last game to see an official English release until Dragon Quest VII hit the PlayStation. An Updated Re-release also hit the Playstation — and was advertised on the back of DQVII's manual — but the plan to bring it over fell throughnote This was at least justified for once; the developer went out of business, so there was no one to program the English text. Getting some other company with no prior knowledge of the game's code to hack it and insert a translation sadly would have been too time-consuming and expensive to be worth it., so English fans didn't see an update until the DS version was ported over.
Dragon Quest IV contains examples of:
Action Girl: Tsarevna Alena, Maya, Meena, and, should you choose to make the main character female, the heroine Sofia.
Action Prologue: The DS and PS1 versions add a prologue chapter in which you play as the hero for a short while as you look around for Eliza. This moves onto the next trope known as...
And Now for Someone Completely Different: As mentioned before, in the DS and PS1 versions, you play as the hero in the prologue chapter for a short while, and then, as in the NES version, you play as each of his/her companions in the next four chapters before you regain control of the hero again in the fifth chapter.
Torneko's chapter lets you step into the shoes of one of the NPC dudes behind the counter at the weapon shop!
Art Evolution: In the PS1/DS, most characters keep the same design, but are more detailed from their original artworks. Psaro pretty much completely changed from a guy who resembles Weehawk from Wizards to a dude who's a Captain Ersatz and Take That of Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.note Incidentally, it should be noted that Psaro predates Sephiroth, and as such Seph is an Expy of him.
And an architectural example comes from minor additions and removals from the PS1 to DS versions to make areas more detailed and/or easier to navigate.
Artificial Stupidity: The AI in Chapter 5 of the NES version, no matter what mode you set it to, is deeply stupid. In fact, Clift/Cristo/Kiryl's AI is so famously stupid (constantly casting Beat/Whack and Defeat/Thwack over and over) that it was referenced in future DQ games. And there's no option to turn it off and control your party members manually; only The Hero can be given specific instructions each turn. Thankfully, this flaw is rectified in the remakes (as well as in all future installments of the Dragon Quest series).
Could be averted (in the NES game) with a specific Game Genie code that gives you manual control over the other party members.
This was actually referenced in Dragon Quest IX; after you dress yourself up as Kiryl, Stella will comment on the idiot AI in the NES version.
Bag of Sharing: One that can't be accessed during combat, but still. You can even rename it!
Bag of Spilling: Downplayed; the game at least retains everyone's equipment and items between chapters, including those in the shared inventory. Money, on the other hand, is not retained. As a result, savvy players will, when a chapter is about to end, spend as much money as possible to fill inventory slots with expensive items. For Chapters 2 and 3, where the Casino is accessible, buying up lots of tokens is highly recommended. Naturally, though, in Chapter 3 (where it's possible to accumulate fairly outlandish sums of money through Torneko's shop, on account of his wife's uncanny ability to sell any item for significantly more than it's actually worth), the price for casino tokens is dramatically higher than normal.
Bowdlerise: The puff-puff room is a fortune-telling room in the DS version. This doesn't really make sense, as the guy in the next room reacts appropriately. You still need to go in alone to do it, and girls can not receive it. The player also has no idea what is going on, even though he has received a fortune before.
Brought Down to Normal: In the DS version, the Marquis de Leon, upon being defeated by the team, reverts to being King Leon... and with a normal accent.
Came Back Strong: The DS and PS1 versions add a sixth chapter in which Aamon comes Back from the Dead to get his revenge on the Hero and his/her entire party, while Psaro revives after being apparently killed by the Hero and the entire party has to help him get his revenge on Aamon if they can resurrect Psaro's dead lover Rose.
Clear My Name: Late in the game, a thief sets you up to take the blame for his latest heist.
Combination Attack: The spell Kazapple, which takes 10 MP from every character in the party to fuel a bolt of super-powerful lightning that obliterates a single enemy.
This was much more useful in the original, since it made the Artificial Stupidity of your teammates a moot point for that round. In the remakes, you could generally get better results with individual moves, especially since the Combination Attack would fail if one party member was killed/disabled. The problem is that the game doesn't tell you it's a Combination Attack. And if you're in the habit of bringing Ragnar and/or Alena with you, it won't work because they have no MP to contribute to the spell.
Critical Hit Class: The odds for a critical are 1 in 64; that is, unless you're Alena, who has a 1 in 4 shot, making her perfect for Metal Slime hunting.
However, the DS remake has the Hero's foster father mention that she/he is eighteen and almost an adult, so...
Disc One Nuke: The Cautery sword in Torneko's Chapter. Money may not carry over between chapters, but equipment does. With a little patience and several trips between his store and hometown, it's possible to stockpile all the extra equipment you might ever need to sell for cash.
The Endor Casino is full of these: The Meteorite Bracer doubles agility. The Spangled Dress has highest defense of the non-ability/elemental armours. Oh, and the Falcon Blade (the top prize in the Endor Casino) is the strongest non-unique item for the 'Hero' in the game. The double hit doesn't carry over if the enemy dies from the first one, but the Meteorite Bracer is great for healing before the enemy kills an injured ally: these items will outclass everything else available for the next handful of gameplay hours (and the bracers' variable bonus means it winds up being used well beyond that.
Disney Death: Oojam/Orin in Chapter 4. However, visiting a certain inn during the next chapter will reveal that he survived.
Dummied Out: The Party Talk feature, which is still in the game code, but was cut so the game could be released quicker. Fan outcry since then forced Square Enix to not make that mistake with the sequels.
The iOS version finally adds it in, with a dedicated button specifically for talking to your party. And they are chatty.
Dying Town: Mamon, both in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5.
Fairy Battle: During Torneko Taloon's chapter, he sometimes runs into fellow traveling merchants.
Fang Thpeak: The Minidemonth talk thith way in the D-Eth version.
Fashionable Asymmetry: The Female Hero's outfit has only one glove, sleeve, and pant leg (though the Male Hero has no such asymmetry), Nara/Meena wears a dress covering only one shoulder and arm, Psaro's outfit is also asymmetrical, and Ragnar has only one shoulder armor pauldron.
Funetik Aksent: The DS translation uses different dialects for different regions of the world.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Between the Stripperiffic female outfits (which Torneko threatens to wear), the heavily implied sex between Torneko and his wife, the female hot spring bather who comments on the size of your breasts if you're female (they're small), and a, umm... certain quote you may get if you have Kiryl look in a mirror. There's a girl in a bar (that's only open at night) in Lassiez Fayre, and if you talk to her in a group she'll say "Oh là là! Ze entourage? I'm not zat kind of girl, monsieur! You most come alone." There's also a priest in Femiscyra (Which is an all-female castle) who will say "I'm the only man who lives in this entire castle, you know. Well, the only real man, that is. Huh huh huh. Jealous, are you? So you're one of those 'modern' women, eh?" It's positively amazing that the DS translation managed to get an E10+.
God Is Flawed: The Big Good of the game, the Zenith Dragon, is responsible for a remarkable amount of suffering thanks to a particularly cruel enforcement of Zenithian law. The Hero is the love child of a forbidden union between a Zenithian woman and a human woodcutter. After he or she is born, the Zenith Dragon smites the father with lightning and forces the mother to return to Zenithia and abandon her child. The woodcutter's father ends up a broken and bitter old man, and he doesn't recognize The Hero. You meet a Zenithian woman later who is heavily implied to be the Hero's mother, but she never explicitly identifies herself. While the story gives you all the pieces to put this together, no one calls him out on it.
God Is Inept: The Dragon God also turns out to be almost completely powerless to do anything to stop the villain except to provide a weak NPC to tag along and to give the hero a convenient (but unnecessary) lift once he's defeated the main villain.
Gratuitous Foreign Language: The DS remake sees a fair amount of Russian and French sprinkled into the dialogue. The French translation (which can be accessed using the North American version and changing the system's language to French) replaces the French with English.
Guest Star Party Member: Aside from the chosen, a few others pass through their lives here and there. Some can even be met after their respective leaves!
Heroic Sacrifice: Eliza (Celia in the NES version) uses her magic to take her best friend's form and die in their stead, tricking the enemy into believing they just killed The Chosen One.
In Chapter 4, after Marquis de Leon strikes down the girls, they're forced to break out of jail, at which point Balzack sends the guards after them. Orin throws himself at them and dies fighting them off, giving Maya and Meena time to escape.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: The villain's motive revolves around this, thanks to human greed. Also, humans apparently mostly wiped out the elves near Strathbaile and aren't on good terms with the dwarves either.
Indy Escape: In Chapter 3, Torneko gets chased by a rolling boulder in his search for the Steel Strongbox/Iron Safe. Fortunately, he has to make the boulder fall into a pit, forming a bridge so he can move on. In the NES version, the boulder moves very slow, which can be easier for Torneko to run faster; the DS version, however, has the boulder move pretty fast, and almost at the same speed as Torneko. It won't run you over though, you just can't get past it.
Joke Character: Torneko. Once you have the full party, he becomes more useful for what he can do outside your party (appraisal and treasure finding) rather than in combat. In Chapter 5, he begins doing random goofing-off much like the Jesters of Dragon Quest III. Unlike the Jesters, however, Torneko's goofing-off nearly always results in something beneficial. However, he may occasionally stare off into space or scare off metal slime types.
Leitmotif: In the remake, each chapter has its own unique adventuring music, specific to the characters and their quest. Once you've assembled all eight of the chosen, changing the party leader will change whose adventuring music you hear.
Lethal Joke Character: Some of Torneko's "goofing-off" actions include stealing items from the enemy (being the only way in the game to do so), performing a leg sweep to nullify some of the enemy's turns, calling in an army of fellow merchants he's befriended in his travels (who proceed to beat up on the enemy for a few rounds), covering an enemy's mouth to prevent spellcasting, and tripping. (Yes, tripping. His weapon somehow lands a critical hit on the enemy in the process.) The only thing keeping this power in check is that, again, these goof-offs are completely random.
Lethal Joke Weapon: Meena's Silver Tarot Cards were lethal to enemies and allies in the original. In the DS game, they favor your party much more. (Use them three times in the same battle, however, and they will always yield the Fool, casting Whack on your whole party).
Lighthouse Point: About halfway through the game. Monsters have taken over a special lighthouse and corrupted its beacon with an evil light that sinks ships. The hero and his party have to clear the monsters out and restore the holy flames.
The Man Behind the Man: Wandering around the Diabolic Hall before the conference that launches the attack on Mamon Mine will reveal a secret conversation about Aamon (or Radimvice for NES players) loyalists whispering about a potential coup; near the end of the game, Aamon himself will claim to have arranged for Rose's kidnap, and by implication her murder. The original doesn't particularly delve into his intentions, but the implication is that monster-kind isn't particularly thrilled with Psaro's broken heart and simply want a master who will run roughshod over humanity; the remake goes into much more detail.
Manual Leader, AI Party: The game uses this as of Chapter 5, with the hero as the only directly controllable character. In the remake, you can assign tactics or manual control as you see fit.
Marathon Boss: Psaro the Manslayer, the last boss of the original NES game / Chapter 5. While originally having Estark's appearance, Psaro doesn't go down nearly as easily; he mutates throughout the battle and assumes a total of a whopping seven forms before being defeated.
Nice Hat: Alena's headgear may be simplistic compared to other examples, but it's still a darn big hat.
Kiryl's hat is even more awesome.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It's implied that the thugs who kidnap and murder Rose only got into her tower because you figured out the defenses and defeated her guardian. Way to shatter that Morality Chain, team.
Another example would be Alena handing over the Armlet of Transmutation/Golden Bracelet to those thugs.
Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!: Since the villains know The Chosen One is currently growing up somewhere in the world, they specifically target children. When Ragnar investigates the disappearing children in Strathbaile (Izmit in the NES version), he learns about this plot and sets out to find the Chosen One, eventually discovering that he's one of their destined companions.
Nintendo Hard: Psaro the Manslayer / Necrosaro has seven forms if you count each HP milestone. There's his initial body, after losing one arm, after losing both arms, after losing his head where he'll then turn his body into a head, then he grows both arms back, then the legs get stronger, and then another head on top of his first head.
And by that stretch, Aamon in the PS1/DS version is actually worse than Psaro in terms of difficulty. At least he only gets 4 forms instead of 7. The last form is actually the worst: powerful breath attacks, and he uses an attack that debuts in Dragon Quest VI: Magic Burst / MegaMagic, and coupled with debuffs... yeah... Good luck, you'll need it.
Poirot Speak: Where the aforementioned Russian and French generally comes into play.
Talking in Your Sleep: Some people in towns do this at night, which is made even funnier in the DS version (Examples: The king of Parthenia mumbles, "Ah-few... ah-fever-few...", the soldier mumbles, "Cry some rubiezzz...", and one boy in Dunplunderin mumbles, "Arr-phew... arr-phew...").
This is a Mythology Gag dating back to the NES game's legendary Artificial Stupidity. You couldn't turn off the party AI in the original NES version (well, you could, but only by using a Game Genie code that was discovered 15 years after it was released) — and Kiryl was completely useless in battle, as he'd spam instant Death spells that would never work, ever.
Aamon gets one in the Updated Re-release; it's revealed during his boss fight in both versions that he's the one that had Rose killed; in the DS bonus chapter, Aamon admits that it was a plan to become the new King of the Nadiria, which has since succeeded; now Aamon takes Psaro's place as a boss, except much harder.
Justified at the start of Alena's chapter, where her father specifically forbids her from fighting and tries to keep her locked up in the castle against her will, so that when she inevitably escapes she has little more than the clothes on her back. Later on, the trope becomes less enforced, as Alena's father is basically forced to accept her, but by that point Alena is so close to her goal she probably figures she can prove she doesn't need it.
Reconstructed in Torneko's chapter. Having a wife and son to support alongside a low paying job at a shop, his journey starts with very little in the way of adventuring gear. But you can still work as a shopkeeper after you've started playing, receiving a daily stipend for your work. There's nothing actually preventing you from grinding away until you have enough money to buy the best gear your little podunk town has to offer... except for the fact that doing so is incredibly boring.
As for the other heroes... Ragnar is one of the Royal Knights of Burland, but starts with little money and pathetic weapons; this is justified by NPC comments about how times are hard and the King is keeping taxes low so the citizens don't suffer. Maya and Meena are both popular attractions at a traveling show; however, Maya is shown to be very bad at managing their money.
Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: In the DS version, Orifiela and many others at The Azimuth and Zenithia talk in this way, which is a nod to the first two NES Dragon Quest games.
You Go Girl: Alena's entire motivation for her chapter is to prove she can kick seven different kinds of ass.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Your hero has green hair; Maya and Meena have violet hair; Ragnar and Torneko have blue hair...