Dragon Quest VI review: You'd better know your RPGs for this is an adventure from an era when games didn't bother to spoon-feed you instructions.
Dragon Quest VI: Realms Of Reverie is a remake of the 1995 Super NES classic that was never released over here. Despite its shiny new 3D visuals and updated sound, DQVI remains decisively old-school.
It's got the typically epic plot that follows a band of heroes on a quest to defeat evil forces and save the world. Two worlds, in fact - another common staple of RPGs being the inclusion of a parallel 'dream world' linked to the real one in mysterious ways. Like in Zelda: A Link To The Past, exploring both worlds in your quest helps to mix things up as you delve into the deepest nooks and crannies of alternating locations.
The opening scenes are typically clichéd. You wake up in your bed and set out into your hometown, where you're given your first errand. Leaving the safety of the town, you take your first steps into the wilderness that is the overworld map and encounter your first battle.
DQVI defies modern customs. Not one person utters a word about how to use the menu screens, interact with the environment or guide you through your first fight.
The battle system is your usual turn-based affair, with the expected attack, magic, item and flee commands. You can either instruct each of your party members before watching the action unfold, or set each fighter's AI behaviour for more automated battles, although they won't always make the best possible moves.
Fight For Purpose
Random battle encounters seem to lock you into a fight just when you want it least, and often make you forget where you're going while in dungeons, but they're a blessing in disguise as they help you to get some much-needed levelling-up done before you encounter the seriously nails enemies. It was less than an hour before we had our butts kicked backed to a checkpoint by a gang of green goblins wielding wooden swords.
When all of your squad members are KO'd, you're sent back to the last time you saved. While your progress is lost and any items used are gone, you do get to keep all of the experience points you've gained so, even in death, your lost steps will still count towards your building strength.
You do, however, have to pay to revive each member of your squad, which gets more expensive at higher levels.
There are at least 40 hours of adventuring here plus an abundance of side-quests and mini-games. These include casinos in which to play high-stakes card games, a Pokémon-style blob-battling coliseum where you get to put your Blobs into battle against special trainers, and a quirky curling game played with the touchscreen controls.
Get 10 hours in and the game throws a job system at you, allowing you to assign roles to each member of your party. The roles you give them will enhance specific attributes and dictate which abilities they'll learn during later levels, thereby allowing you to create powerful magicians or hard-hitting brutes as you see fit.
You can really get stuck into customising your team and their powers without things ever getting too complicated. You'll need to keep the instruction manual to hand though as the game neglects to provide any direction.
As for the game's story, it may start with an epic 'save the world' plot, but you'll spend most of your time running missions in smaller, self-contained chapters that don't actually tie together all that well, as you chase your overall goal of discovering your true identity.