The third and final installment of the Zenethian trilogy, Dragon Quest VI was originally released on the SNES in 1995 and became renowned not only for the quality of the game, but for pushing the limits of the SNES with its graphics and scale of the game world. This is one of the largest SNES games in storage size. This was part of the main why it never made a foreign release, and also due to Enix closing their doors on their North American sector. Though in 2010 it was remade for the first time on the DS, and released in the US and Europe a year later, to complete any hardcore DQ fan’s collection with finally having all 9 games released, as this was the last Dragon Quest game that never saw the light of day outside of Japan.
Dragon Quest VI is known for its exploration of two large worlds, the real world and the dream world; similar to the Dark and Light worlds from Zelda’s Link to the Past. Both of these worlds are full sized and essentially double the scale of your adventure. Though this grand adventure, you are followed in your quest for your past by a growing cast of characters who are also on a search for their lost memories of their past.
You play the game as the hero, which has no default name, as you awaken from an alleged nightmare by your little sister. You are then instructed by the village elder the annual festival is coming up and you must go and collect the crown that the elder has ordered from a nearby town. Upon entering the town, you discover the crown maker is missing and you go off to find him, only to discover he is hanging on the edge above a giant hole. In the process of saving him, you fall into the hole and find yourself in a strange world where nobody can see you, but you quickly find a way back through a mysterious well. Afterwards you return and finish your task of getting the crown and return home. During the festival the mountain spirit appears and tells you that you must leave the village once again, as you are the only one to defeat the evil that plagues this world. And so your quest begins.
As with the other Dragon Quest games, the gameplay in VI is your incredibly traditional JRPG with random encounters and a simple turn based battle system, all done in first person. As you gain more party members, you can employ tactics to your battle to let the AI do the work for you. While largely untouched from the previous entrees, they do introduce a diverse class system to create some variety to aid your strategies in battle. While the class system was first introduced and only used in DQ3, 6 has made many improvements to it. Unlike in 3, your class levels up separately, and at a faster rate. This is because once you max out the level of two classes, you can unlock a hybrid class to gain much stronger abilities. The slight downfall for some people is that only certain combinations unlock hybrid classes. A plus side to the class system is that once you change your class, all of your abilities transfer over, thus increasing your movepool which comes in handy the farther you get in the game. One aspect of the class system some might find tedious, is that you can only change your classes by going to Alltrades Abbey and talking to Jack of Alltrades (good God, what a terrible pun, is that supposed to be funny?), and there is only one in the game. So every time you want to change your classes, you must trek back to it. Luckily by this point you have the Return spell which you can warp travel.
The character and monsters are once again designed by Akira Toriyama. The game also has the typical DQ trope of having a few reoccurring monsters and doing the color swapping after certain points in the game, so nothing new for veteran DQ fans, but may be seen as a bit lazy for newbies to the series.
Another lazy aspect of this remake, is that it uses the same engine as the previous Zenithian DS games. Though luckily unlike DQ5, they at least updated the engine a bit, so the graphics actually look a bit nicer. The trees aren’t 2D and are fixed when you rotate the camera, and also things like water graphics in towns also look nicer.
Koichi Sugiyama once again composes the music for this game. While personally some of the town and overworld music may not be as great as DQ5, there are still some fantastic tracks. The music for the towns are bright and cheerful and vary with the dark and gloomy dungeon sounds. A staple of the DQ series is that there is a fully orchestrated OST available for the fans of the soundtrack, and even the opening title sequence of the Dragon Quest theme is performed by an orchestra.
So if you were a fan of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and looking for a great lengthy RPG to your DS collection, Dragon Quest VI will gladly satisfy your RPG needs. While the story may not be as dramatic of an experience as DQ5, the darker, grittier nature of DQ6 will still not disappoint you.
And that concludes the Zenethian Trilogy of Dragon Quest games.