Banpresto decided to bring Elf to the Playstation by way of the forth installment of the insanely popular Dragon Knight Japanese RPG series. Most of Elf's console games reside on the Saturn because of Sega of Japan's slackness on hentai in video games, but Banpresto decided to clean the game up a bit and move it from the PC (a huge adult game medium) to the Playstation (no adult games allowed) and let me give them a big thank you for doing so.
Take away all that nudity from Elf's games and do you still have a playable game underneath? Well, in Dragon Knight 4's (D4 from now on) case I doubt it was playable with it, because the game is just so hard. I think one of the reasons D4 is so hard is so that PC Hentai players would have to earn the Hentai scenes for beating the stages in the PC game, but what happens when there are no Hentai scenes in the Playstation game? Well, I don't think Banpresto thought about this and they really should have made the game easier to keep players from losing their minds.
Gameplay in D4 is strangely different from your average everyday Strategy/RPG. Instead of playing through boards with different tasks to accomplish (i.e. save a party member, get to the other side of the screen, etc..) all of the stages in D4 are pretty much the same. Aldo, in most Strategy/RPGs you will only find a handful of stages with objectives that take a certain amount of turns (15 turns to kill all enemies and so on), but in D4 every single stage has a turn limit and this is D4's major Achilles heel. Personally, I like to move my units slowly across the battlefield taking as much time as I can, conserving every single hit point; however in D4 you cannot even think about doing anything that takes time or you will run out of it. The time limits range from 15 to 25 turns, and with exception to the first few levels, this is not nearly enough turns to complete most of the boards, and it wore down my nerves to no end. After each stage I kept saying to myself, "Jaime it's going to get better, just hang in there" but sadly it never did get better, it just kept getting harder and shorter as I went deeper into the game.
Combine all of the above with the fact that there are no weapons or armor to buy or find, as well as having only two total items in the whole game (attack up and defense up), and you find it very weak. One of the best parts of a RPG for some people in RPG's is collecting and buying new weapons and armor.
Towns in D4 are also pretty weak, ending up more like campsites then towns. In most of the towns all you will find are your own troops and maybe a guy selling soldiers. Buying men comes in handy when a lot of them die, but you can't buy very many, only one per town (and they're not in every town). The only part you will look forward to in the towns is running around them looking for the few items (attack up and defense up, you will need them!) that are scatterd throughout it. There are also dating sim parts in the towns, but they are so bad they're hardly worth
talking about. All you get is a few lines of text and maybe a question (big deal), it's really lame, I'm sure there was more to them in the PC game though =).
I really tried to give D4 the benefit of the doubt and I just kept plodding through the game, but after beating it I still feel the exact same about it as I did when I started: it's way to hard! The insane level of difficulty is another major problem with D4. This game will bring you to a new level of rage and anger, and if you don't believe me just play it for a few hours. The words "rip off" take on a whole new meaning when you play this game, since the computer cheats on just about every round. Heck, at the start of some battles not only will you be outnumbered, but the bad guys will have higher attack and defense than you and its just not fair. And even if you have near the same attack/defense when one bad guy attacks you, most of the time it will take 50% or more health away from your characters and that means certain death, because the computer loves to gang up on certain people.
But wait, I haven't gotten to best part and the final dagger in the heart of this poorly made Strategy/RPG. Once a character dies they are dead forever (d'oh!) and that, my friends, is what sends this game to the garbage can.
Not only does the game have almost impossible bad guys to beat, it also has your men dying in droves so you don't have enough people to beat the next level with. This game will just grate away at your nerves in almost every way and why I kept playing I don't know.
Even though D4 keeps many traits of most Strategy/RPGs, such as classes (cannon men, flyers, horse men, etc..) and intense warfare, I just can't reward it for its poorly thought out level of difficulty. It's almost like Elf wanted to give people heart attacks when they made this game.
Getting away from gameplay as fast as I can, I'll now turn to the music. I ask myself why do I keep playing this crappy game? Well, there is a very good reason, the music! It's awesome to the core, if there was a soundtrack CD I would be very tempted to buy it. D4's music is the kind of music you could go to sleep to, it's just so soothing and beautiful, I absolutely adored it, sometimes finding myself just listing to it and not even playing the game. My favorite track was the memory card save screen, it was full of elegant sounding flutes playing stunning medleys and I just ate it up. Great stuff here folks!
A very eye pleasing aspect of D4 is its charming graphics. Mixing hand drawn backgrounds with super-deformed sprite characters and breathtaking still portraits by some of Elf's finest artists is my recipe for success. Elf has been known for their fabulous artwork, but sadly most of it is loaded with hentai scenes and things not suitable for all ages or people, but this changes with D4 on the Playstation. D4 is 98% naughtiness free (there are a few freaky scenes), but this is not because Elf has decided to walk the straight and narrow, it's simply because this is a Playstation game and Sony doesn't tolerate hanky panky in their games. So if you ever wanted to play an Elf game without the 18+ stuff this is your game. The good part about this is Banpresto did not remove all the wonderful CG portraits, they only removed the questionable ones, so this adds greatly to D4's graphics score.
Aside from the CG portraits, D4 has lots of other graphics pluses, such as beautiful battle maps and awesome character designs. Though some of the battle maps were very bland, in whole, they were very pretty and well laid out. But D4's major graphics plus are the character designs. There are so many cool looking characters in D4 it will make you ill if you let one of them die, especially the girls. They are very-VERY well drawn if you know what I mean, and added greatly to the playability of the game. I loved D4's graphics, though they look simple, they get the job done.
Unless you're a huge Elf fan, I don't recommend that you get this game. This game is just too hard and will just cause more stress in your life that you don't need. However, if you're looking for one of the hardest Strategy/RPG's on the Planet, well here it is. But just remember, I warned you about the game so don't complain to me when you have a heart attack from the stress. A very mediocre game, even with great artwork, it still gets a thumbs down from me.