Thursday, March 10, 2011
Posted by Andrew at 7:30 AM
For longtime readers of our humble blog, this shouldn't be surprising - after all, I've reviewed three other Dragon Quest games for this site. For this particular game, though, I didn't want to run a traditional review, mostly because I couldn't think of another 600-800 words to say about yet another Dragon Quest game. It's Dragon Quest. You have hit points, you wander the globe killing monsters, it is at once one of Japan's most popular and most conservative game series. There is not much to say that hasn't been said.
The thing about Dragon Quest VI is that it's one of my less favorite games in the series. I know that this may be akin to preferring brown M&Ms to tan M&Ms, but it's true - each DQ game after the first has a point at which you're given some means of conveyance, usually a boat, and in opening up the world for you it makes the game more non-linear and sometimes less story-driven. The best of the games maintain their impetus through this stage, but in VI this moment comes really early and it sort of sucks all the momentum out of the game.
Despite that, I'm still playing and enjoying the game, and this got me thinking - what happens when, especially in a long-running series, fun gameplay concepts or fundamentals help make up for the fact that a game just isn't that great?
When games in long-running series stray too far from their roots, in fact, we can sometimes end up with a mess - Square Enix has been drifting away from the origins of the Final Fantasy series for some time, for example, and the core charm and battle system which made even Final Fantasy V playable on some level has been left behind for a series of increasingly elaborate systems that sometimes work and sometimes don't, depending on the game you're talking about and who's asking/answering the question.
Don't take any of this to mean that innovation in games is bad, or that I want everything in every game series I liked as a child to stay the same all the time forever - that's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is that a lot of games became popular because their gameplay, for one reason or another, struck a chord with people, from Mario's pick-up-and-play appeal to Dragon Quest's simple yet deep and strategic battle system. If you stick to your fundamentals, no matter how uninspiring your game is, there will still be something there to appreciate.
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