The legend of Erdrick is slipping into the past. Now, four new heroes are out to create a new legend. Will the four heroes be able to band together to face a hidden evil? What will happen if they fail? These four new heroes of the land are all that remain. It is up to them to join their forces and battle evil once and for all.
Dragon Warrior IV...It is so hard to figure out why this game did not do well in the US. It did very badly when released, and thus the following two did not receive release in the states. But it should have been one of the most popular by all means. Let me explain why.
First the graphics were a notch above the others, with vertical walls and more detailed sprites. While the earlier games had wonderful music, the tunes from Dragon Warrior IV sounded far more intricate, as if the composer was playing with your inner moods. The score enabled perhaps the first showing of drawing emotions from the player. And most importantly of all, it had a remarkable storyline which dramatically transcended anything from the first three tales. Here you would spend a lot of time involved in various short adventures, most of them involving a developed plot in such a way that you as a player got to know the society that lived in this world and meet many of its people on a personal basis. Something that had not been done before, but strangely saw popularity in the similar story development found in Final Fantasy IV released before.
This was also the first game in the Dragon Warrior series where the "Hero" does not appear at the beginning of the game. Instead, the game is divided into five Chapters. In the first four chapters, various characters from around the world experience their own personal dramas and crisis. Eventually in the massively extended chapter 5, the various story lines converge as the Hero makes his/her appearance. Unlike earlier Dragon Warrior titles, you won't begin the game knowing the identity of the true enemy. The adventure begins small and gradually expands until "save the world" becomes the huge battle cry.
In this game the battle system is vastly different than previous titles. In Dragon Warrior I & II there was no choice as to which characters would be in your party. In Dragon Warrior III the Hero could join with up to three additional comrades, but these characters served almost exclusively a role of fighting companions. Here you have eight total "controllable" characters which can be switched in and out of your party of 4. There are also eight NPC style characters that will come and go over the course of the journey. However, with the exception of the Hero, the controllable characters are not controlled directly in Chapter 5, but will make automated moves in battle according to a "tactics" system where you set the general battle plan.
Added for perhaps the first time is several other interesting features: a fighting tournament, a casino, and an entire chapter devoted making money. As for story lines, you'll liberate towns from man-eating beasts, investigate mysterious child disappearances, stop nations from going to war over economic resources, finance public works projects, overthrow a corrupt and brutal political government, avenge the murder of a family member, and travel both to the heavens and the underworld. And if your only experience with Dragon Warrior has been the first three games, you'll find it hard to believe that this game is part of the Dragon Warrior series. I do not think there was anything like this game at the time of its release. The depth, stories, and twists and turns were unheard of. In a word...AMAZING!
One draw back is the Tactics system in Chapter 5. Most found it to be very annoying, since you lose direct control over seven of the eight characters and there are a few special abilities and spells which you almost never get to use as a result. Another minor complaint is that you spend the entire first half of the game in the first four chapters, each time starting at level 1 and building up to about level 11 or 12. And right when you are into it and doing well, you have to change chapters and starting over at level 1 again. As a result you don't get to experience the stronger monsters, weapons and spells until well into Chapter 5.
Each game has its weak points, and in the case of Dragon Warrior IV, the strengths are far greater. Unfortunately this game was a commercial failure in the United States, which led to us being denied the next two releases in the series where the plotting and diverse features continued to advance. Dragon Warrior IV was, in many ways, one of the first RPGs to place such a central emphasis on plot development and drama (the other being Final Fantasy IV). From this point on, RPGs began to feel more and more like engrossing movies than games.
If you like RPGs you should at least give this one a try. It will give you a look at how these games first began to evolve toward the epic masterpieces they have become since the time of Dragon Warrior IV.