Video Game Review: Dragon Warrior IV (NES)

Well, I finally reached the summit! I have finally conquered all of the Dragon Warrior games for the original Nintendo! It was a massive and very time consuming undertaking with a lot of experience point grinding and wandering around aimlessly without the Nintendo Hotline to call.

After my experience playing the two previous games, this one was so refreshing and it didn’t force me to have to grind my ass off for what felt like weeks on end. This installment in the franchise finally got the XP issue fixed, as it is pretty much a perfectly balanced game in that regard.

This is also the most innovative in the series for several reasons.

First, the story is broken out into five acts. That’s right, you play five very different chapters, each introducing new protagonists. In the fifth act, you finally get to play as your self named “hero” character. But as that chapter rolls on, you are joined by new party members, most of whom are made up of the other characters you played as in the earlier acts.

Second, the party size in this game is immense. You now have eight or more characters to rotate into your playing party of four. What’s even cooler, is that when you get XP from battles, the inactive characters also level up. This way you don’t have to do extra XP grinding with a myriad of lineups trying to have everyone maintain the same level.

Third, this also adds in part-time party members that help out on certain missions. This is kind of cool as the game sort of throws new allies at you as you progress. It makes this feel like a bigger, more important story as the decent people of the land want to directly assist you.

I really liked the maps and the structure of the overworld, as well as the dungeons and towers. This is the best designed game of the lot and most locations feel unique and also different than what you’ve encountered in the games before this one.

Between the game play and the overall design, this Dragon Warrior is like a whole new game, even if the graphical style is the same as the previous three.

I love old school 8-bit RPGs and the Dragon Warrior games for the original Nintendo are my favorite of the bunch. But this one is absolutely perfect from start to finish. While I gave the first game a perfect score, I wish I could give this one a score higher than that. Where I thought the first one was mostly perfect, this one greatly exceeds it.

Rating: 10+/10
Pairs well with: The other Dragon Warrior a.k.a. Dragon Quest games for the original NES, as well as the NES Final Fantasy games.