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Dragon Quest 4 DS - classic version

Started by Kosayn, August 11, 2012, 07:15:20 AM

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This thread is for my classic script hack of Dragon Quest 4 DS.  My goal is to bring the simple, fun writing style of the NES game Dragon Warrior 4 to the newer, more accessible DS version.

Hey, Photobucket image hosting is back!

So, my day job of computer repairs and retro game vending has been eating up all my time.  However, I do have a second DSi now to work on the immigrant town dialogue.  Hoping to make it a priority this summer.  If you're still holding out hope for this project, just play it - most further changes to the text of the main storyline will only be about fixing awkward writing or typos.  I do want to say thanks to everyone who helped and believed I could do this. I will release it officially with RHDN when it's truly complete.  That basically just means immigrant town and transfer features.

- Kosayn

Here it is - v0.92.  Ready for beta testers.

1. You need XDELTA to apply the patch to the US RELEASE of Dragon Quest 4 for Nintendo DS. I recommend XDELTAUI.
2. You need WinRAR or some compatible archiver to extract the file.
( )

If you play my hack, buy any game in this great series! Show the mighty Enix some love.

I know the file hosting site is basic - the first button  that says 'Download' has classic Dragon Warrior style spell names.  This is the intended main version of the patch.  The second button that says 'Old Spells' has the ordinary DS style modern spell names.  Either of these can be applied to original rom. 

Patches have not been tested with any other modifications.

Link below:


I can't believe I've reached this milestone, the relief of finally having the project out on the internet rather than just on my own system - it's something.  All acknowledgements will be made in patch notes. 

Your feedback can be sent to, or posted on this thread, or pm'ed to me.

My goal initially is to find GAME BREAKING BUGS, and text that's missing or garbled.
I know there's still a lot of content for me to get to.  Also, I know the writing will not necessarily be appealing to everyone.

All feedback is appreciated.

Original Post from 2012:


Long time fan of RHDN.  As a first hack I thought I'd try changing the spells in Dragon Quest 4 DS back to their original NES names.

I thought I'd ask - is this the sort of thing I should submit to the site?  I am also working on re-inserting the original script/etc into the game, but figured this was a good place to start.  It covers all player spells that were present in the original game, and a couple that only monsters use.   The new spells have been left as is.


Well. If you're working on the script as well, why not wait until you're done with that to submit? You could release it as a "classic mode" patch or something. :3

As a side note, what exactly are you using to create the patch? xdelta, I assume?
In the event of a firestorm, the salad bar will remain open.


Yeah, I created my test patch with Xdelta.  Using crystaltile2 to make the actual changes.

Perhaps I will hold off for now and keep working on other aspects.  Character and monster names are pretty easy since they follow a similar pointer format to the spell names.   A lot of the combat and menu stuff was also simple.

Even in its current unpolished state, I find the game a lot better without the excess lines and strong accents.  Some of that is nostalgia, probably.  Back in the 90s I thought some of the dialogue in DW4 was really high-quality compared to previous jrpg translations.

So far I'm about halfway through Chapter 2, re-inserting the old script.  Right now I'm figuring out the pointer format for ordinary dialogue - a lot of it will need to be shortened.  Most NPCs have about 3x the dialogue compared to the NES version and a lot of it is filler.


If you also fixed the character names so I didn't have to play with Meeny Miney and Toejam in chapter 4, that would be awesome. :)



Haha, yeah.  Oojam.  It sounds a bit like Oolong, I guess?  Character names are done at this point.  I'll probably work on monsters next.

The dialogue text, though, is proving to be another story.  If I shorten it by more than a certain amount, even with the correct text length pointer changed, the next line of dialogue bleeds over into it without fail.

Right now, I'm probably going to be using the NES script as much as possible - I have it extracted from the game thanks to a tool from this site.  But in many cases I'm writing extra dialogue where the NES script doesn't fill the space adequately.  There's going to be some original writing no matter what, since most towns have 3 or 4 new characters wandering around.

As for stuff I wish I could do - I'd love to tweak monster or player stats to restore some difficulty.  I suspect that's beyond me, though.


God yeah. They totally screwed up chapter 4. In the original you had two choices at the start of chapter 4. Grind with poor equipment facing a decent chance of death or run a lot and upgrade equipment by what you stole in towns or found in chests. Made the chapter have some meaning. To some extent you still needed to grind in chapter 2, but the changes to sale prices and increase to gold from battles in chapter 4 made it completely unnecessary and took away the feeling that these were two girls who were ill prepared for what they would face. It cheapened the battle with Keelon; robbing it of its impact.


Yep. In my testing on the DS, it took maybe half an hour to rush through most of chapter 4 without really buying equipment.  The extra Bag slots to carry herbs in and the encounter rate differences really impact the difficulty as much as anything else.

As far as the status of this project, all of Chapter 1 and 2's script, character names, and spells are done.  Working through the monster list currently, luckily the game has a monster manual item so I don't have to hunt all of them down to test changes.  After that there's a few item fixes, the rest of the script, and anything else I can come up with!


This is awesome. That is all.

Seriously, the NES translation of DQ4 is the best as far as I care.
Current Projects: On hold indefinitely.
I do the Twitter thing now: (expect lots of game streaming announcements)
Mistress of the RHDN Discord server.


Thanks for putting your effort into making this project :) I'm a fan of the DQ series, but the text in the DS remake of IV was a little too over the top for me D:



Here's a few pictures.  The first one is what I consider a key scene, where I've been able to just use the NES dialogue verbatim.  The second picture is an example of what I'm doing with new dialogue that wasn't in the NES version.  I'm hoping to make what I add faithful to the original tone - a bit of humor, foreshadowing, and tying together the original script.

The two pictures from the bar in Endor are examples of where the NES text was too short, so I used it, but also wrote a little extra.  This is pretty common.

Update, August 28 - Finished the monster list tonight, finally.  Moving on to Chapter 3, everyone's favorite!  I actually like a lot of Taloon / Torneko's dialogue in the remake, I think it's one of the few dialects that wasn't completely overdone.  But I remember the original game's appraisal messages being amusing, too.



Finished Chapter 3.

So, I've added some screenshots. In this case they're all of original NES dialogue.  I've figured out that I can move line breaks and in-dialogue pointers around, which gives me a bit more leeway than when I was working on chapter 1.  I'll be revisiting a lot of the dialogue to polish it up later on.

I've heard that some people hate the old spell names as much as I do the new ones, which is fair enough.  So I thought I'd mention, undoing any of that is pretty much just cut and paste.  I could make different versions of a patch pretty easily in the event that this crazy thing actually gets finished.
Anyway, I won't decide about that until I look into the feasibility of changing fonts, since I'm pretty convinced the DS font is what's making combat messages look weird.

Any advice about fonts, or general graphical editing on DS, is appreciated. I'm a novice about most of this stuff.

I'll probably be working on the item tables next - I definitely need a break from dialogue!


The font in DQ4 DS is a standard NFTR font, which can be edited with NFTR Edit by DarthNemesis. 



Hah, it works!

Thanks for the info, that helps a lot. The tools that are available now are pretty impressive.

I had a few technical issues, but they're sorted out now. I can start working on fine-tuning the spacing to exactly match the NES, and design something for the smaller fonts.



"Making combat messages look weird" how?  I'm not really that much a fan of the old font, but I do think it's neat a project like this is being done.  Would be nice to see a "de-accenting" project or something of that nature for DQ5 and/or DQ6 too (I wouldn't go so far as to suggest taking the script from one of the existing fan translations though necessarily, though DQ5 PS2's was very good from what I recall), possibly also with reverting names to more direct translations instead of some of the forced puns.


This is very interesting. Makes me want to get a DS flash card. The NES script was a hell of a lot better than the faux-accented script they had in DQ4. I have a friend who switched to French, she hated it that much.

I have to say, though, the "classic" font looks rather awkward the way it is implemented.


Anyway you can fix the l, i's and such?  They're obnoxiously wide and.. just kind of ruin the look of it :|
'We have to find some way to incorporate the general civilians in the plot.'

'We'll kill off children in the Juuban district with an infection where they cough up blood and are found hanging themselves from cherry blossom trees.'


Thanks for your interest in my project.

Regarding the font, I agree it's got some issues. 

The letters are pixel-perfect to what was used on the NES, even the l's and so on. The spacing between words and some letters is still off by a pixel here and there.

Yes, I will probably end up editing the font to reduce some of its width, and normalizing some of the weirder letters.  I hope to still end up using something that looks very similar to the NES, overall.  There are also 3 other fonts in the game that need sorting out, once I'm happy with the main dialogue one.


I'll see if I can explain the problem I had with capitalized monster names visually.  The reason I like caps on the monsters is that I think the new names lost some personality by removing them.  In my opinion the original game's combat messages makes them sound like half-given name, half species name.

The original DW4 uses sentence fragments, but as a result the capitalized names don't seem out of place.
(also, I just noticed it's using periods here)

DQ4 DS uses full sentences, but doesn't capitalize names.

...because it looks a bit out of place when full sentences are mostly capitalized.

But it doesn't look as weird in a more vertically condensed font, in my opinion.

I can remove "A" and "Some" in these lines if I need to, but I'm happy with how it looks right now.  Other than this specific part of combat, it's not really an issue.

Anyway, I hope to plow through this technical stuff and get back to working on Chapter 4 by the end of the weekend.


Oh, I see what you mean.  Yeah, that does look a bit awkward.


I think the reason it looks more awkward in the DS screen is that the spacing between the lines is greater.


Yeah, the vertical spacing - seems that it goes beyond what the tile editor programs can do.  Even if I crush the tiles down to 9 pixels tall or so, the spacing between lines remains consistent.

I'm going to look around some and mess with stuff in the code to see if the vertical spacing is alterable, but I suspect it's something that calls for programming skills.  I've moved things around in an image editor, and the text box is just way too big if I cut the vertical space between lines below 6 pixels.  If I do find a way to change the vertical space, it won't be by very much.


Speaking of filling the text boxes better, I've expanded the game's secondary font:

I've also adjusted the spacing and made some edits to the primary font:

And finally, I'm testing a larger version of the primary font, which might work better. It looks great on a DS Lite's small screens.


One remaining issue is space between words. I'd like to figure that out.  I assumed there would just be a 'blank space' tile, and there are several, but I've tested them and none seems to govern space between words.

Anyway, I have to finalize the fonts before anything else, because every time I change them, there are new problems with spacing in the script.  So if you have feedback on my font choices, now's the time.