CD Theater Dragon Quest IV Volume 3


Review by · June 19, 2017

It was over 15 years ago that I got my hands on the CD Theater albums for Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II. I knew precious little about drama CDs back then, so I don’t think I totally understood that what I had in my hands was special. Not only did these “CD Theater” albums come with beautiful artbooks, but they included newly-arranged music by Koichi Sugiyama’s de facto protégé, Hayato Matsuo. Sadly, you will never find this music isolated outside of the dialogue and sound effects of these drama CDs, though some tracks on these albums do offer unmitigated sections of music, particularly in the first and last tracks of each album. Nonetheless, as a poor monolingual English-speaker, I almost wish someone would “fansub” these drama albums so I could read in English what I’m hearing in Japanese.

“The People Are Shown The Way.” In some ways, Dragon Quest IV doesn’t truly begin until its fifth and final chapter. The supporting cast are introduced first, and then they are all brought together by the hero of the overarching adventure. This third and final volume in the Dragon Quest IV CD Theater trilogy covers the hero’s journey, meeting up with all the aforementioned characters, and taking on Balzack, Pizarro, and others. They also get to climb a giant tower, which is par for the course in Dragon Quest (and most JRPGs for that matter).

Musically, there is more here than in the other two volumes combined: Matsuo works almost all of the themes for the hero’s adventure into Volume 3, versus the fraction of themes featured on the previous two volumes. Of course, you’ll be hearing them under the chatter of ten or more party members, or the din of a heated battle with the classic in-game spell-casting sound effects as well as the additional CD-exclusive “rock-your-speakers-explosion” sounds that drown out the battle music. Seriously, the final battle sequence goes on for the better part of five or six minutes, just like that. In fairness, that’d be record time compared to how long DQIV’s final boss actually takes to defeat.

All told, if you’re going to pick up this album, you should go for the whole trilogy. And, in my opinion, if you were to pick one Dragon Quest of all the CD Theaters to add to your collection (I-VI, Torneko), I would suggest it either be III or IV. There is a lot to love here…even if, like me, you cannot speak Japanese.

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.