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Dragon Quest 4 DS - classic version

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

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Thanks, glad to hear you're into it.

I thought I'd show off some of the newer techniques I've been using with a few Endor screenshots.  Here we have some of Nara's join dialogue, which was much longer than on the NES, and forced me to get a bit creative.  So I used her Tarot Card message from combat, fleshed out a little bit, to sort of illustrate the actual fortunetelling.  I think it comes off really well in context.  Anyway, I'm able to do this because I know how to remove the name from the dialogue box, so I can change 'dialogue' into 'narration.'  I can also make a character named or unnamed, using a * for their dialogue, if I want.

Also, I now understand how the game makes text sections different based on whether you choose a male or female hero, as in the second screenshot.  This actually also led to a really good way to eat up unwanted space and scroll sounds when I want to write shorter dialogue - I simply divide the empty extra space in half with the M/F dialogue option, and it has half the impact.

Finally, I want to mention that all the Casino stuff, minigames, titles, and battle text are modifiable, and mostly that stuff's done. I want it all to fit stylistically.  Books, mirrors, and appraisals too, though I've yet to seriously focus on those.  Basically there is no text in the game that I can't mess with at this point.

Endor of course is huge script-wise - it goes through more dialogue refreshes than any of the other towns, and many of the NPCs have ongoing stories that need to match up.  As far as the rest of my work since I restarted the project, the Mountain Village Chapter 5 Intro is now written much better than in the video I showed of it.  As my techniques improve, I've gotten more picky.  Branca is done but still very dull, though I have a few ideas of what to do with it.  Anyway, before too long I should be able to move on to the awesome Cave of Betrayal, the desert, and Aneaux.  Looking forward to that.



Branca, Cave of Betrayal, Aneaux.



Konenber, Lighthouse.

It opens up quite a bit after getting the ship! I'll have to start doing that RPG thing where you go everywhere but the next objective, to avoid missing anything.


Hi Kosayn. First time poster here after following the progress of this thread for about a month. Your incremental results actually inspired me to use the same crystaltile to start looking into the game as a way to get me started to learn some gaming scripts.

I have found where the texts are stored, but can you help me understand how the game references these text?

First thing, I'm not sure where the game scripts are, and as such, how would the scripts point to a specific line of text as well as the "language" its under? I have seen that each language are segregated from each other.

My guess is that, since there's 5 languages, when a NPC talks, there's probably a variable pointer that changes (its value) depending on the main language that's being selected.

I'm still very new to this game and hope that this thread can be an ideal place to exchange understanding of the texts work.

Thanks in advance.


Yes, it is multi-language.   I tested with my original cart, and it selects based on which language the DS itself is set to.  I have to assume that it just determines the starting point (the file, I suppose, outside Crystaltile) for all the text it calls up after that, based on that original setting.

It's cool that you're interested in learning how to hack this game.  Especially since V and VI on the DS seem to mostly follow the same layout, so what you learn could be applied to those, and probably other DS games besides.

However, for my part, I'm a beginner too.  I've just been dealing with altering the English text, and not figuring out how the game engine actually calls it up.  The text is broken up into sections like 'all the day dialogue for Branca, prior to the refresh after you get Nara/Mara.' Or, a simpler one, 'All the Item Shop text.'  Such sections have a block of pointers first, then the text.  I'll describe that if you like. The format is index number, 00, text length, 00, relative position from the beginning of the section's text (divided by 4), 00.  All in hex, with overflow above FF / 255 going into those extra 00s.  I posted a few pages back about it for another request, and I'm glad I did, because I had to jog my memory about the technical stuff after taking a year off from this project.

So you can tell the pointer sections from their large vertical lines of 00.  The spells were easier due to short length, but I have moved around a few dialogue pointers as well now.  That screenshot above from the weapon shop with "This is my honest advice...  I think you'd better keep that."  That's an example of where I didn't have enough space for the message I wanted to use, and decided to shift the next text section forward to expand it.  Making sense of the text pointers when they overflow into the next byte can get confusing, but at least they're easy enough to locate.  Even if you don't want to do the math on the character count and position from the start so that you can ctrl-f search for it, you can just flood the whole section where you think it might be with FFFFFFFFFFFFF - and then play the game to see if the correct bit of dialogue is screwed up. 

Lately I've been experimenting more with the codes the game uses to call variable text.  For instance, it often references the name you assigned to the Hero with the exact text %a00090.   And the M/F gender text division uses %A090%Xsome male text%Ysome female text%Z.   Obviously there's a similarity between those two codes; not sure if that's a coincidence. Not long ago I changed my process for filling unwanted blank space yet again to just repeatedly copy-pasting %A090%X%Y%Z, and it works great, though I cringe at the torture it must be putting the text parser through.  There are a few other codes like this that I recognize.  Generally the combat message section uses them a lot to call up monster names, items, spells etc.  I have thought about how these are probably understandable memory addresses... they're not absolute locations in the text, anyway, since any of the item or monster names can be referenced.  Anyway, these codes might provide some insight into how the game manages stuff.

Anyway, let me know if you find anything interesting!  For me the holy grail would be altering monster stats or player stat gain, to alter the challenge and restore some of the need to grind and purchase equipment in the early chapters.  I'd also love to destroy the bag to prevent people stocking up on totally safe amounts of herbs - that's one of the factors in why modern RPG dungeons ended up being so neutered and boring; it's the same reason why Resident Evil needed to restrict your inventory to create tension. But I suspect that getting rid of the bag would be problematic, since the game is often sending stuff to the bag automatically. 


October 2014 - back to working on this after a long time.


I've been back on this project for a couple of months now.  My hope is to finish before a new round of DQ re-releases hits.

Gradually, I'm finishing town dialogues prior to moving forward with the story stuff.  The prologue chapter is also done to my satisfaction.  I'm cleaning up the text formatting for the last time without too much effort.  It's fun again - so I thought I'd share some progress.  When I look back, a few of my corny DQ style jokes make me laugh after a year on hiatus, so that's probably a good sign.


Glad to see this is still getting work on it :)



Some pictures - I spent a few nights on this lately, mostly on Monbaraba.  I'm now finished everything before story progression, which is actually pretty big.  It means there are only a couple whole towns left to start from scratch.

This project has taken way too long - but even with long breaks, it keeps bringing me back.  Hope to update more often during the summer!



I don't really like the remake for a variety of reasons (some you already mentioned, but I really also just hate the DW7 graphics), but DW4 is easily 2nd on my favorite DQ list, with 8 being the only better one IMO.

I strongly support any move to redo the slightly awkward spell name revisions, and definitely support inserting the original NES script (which I definitely concur is really, really good) into the DS version.

I may not ever play this version, but I know I just like seeing DW4 get some attention, whereever it happens to come from!


Wow this is great man. I'm impressed. That small font just didn't feel DW-ish. Way too thin. Will be excited to follow this.



Yes, I'm still working on it.  I got kind of bored with Mintos - these pictures are some of the verbatim dialogue from Dragon Warrior 4.  For the extra npcs I kind of didn't have anything to go on.  However, I realized the theme of Mintos is sort of about learning from this old wise guy's life experience, so after looking around the internet for DQ4 tips and tricks, I made that extra dialogue also about learning and advice, some of which is actually useful in the game.

Anyway, Mintos is done.  Stancia and Riverton are also looking good, I never posted pictures of that stuff while I was working on it.  Also Burland/Izmit/Rosaville in Ch.5.  They can use a bit of attention later on, but are essentially done.

I used to have more time for this project back in 2012 - crazy it's taking so long - when I was single and not so busy with my day job.  However, I still like doing this and the longer I spend on a project, the higher my standards of quality get. I expect to deliver something quite polished, eventually.


That's good to hear! I was worried you'd give up on it. It would be nice to see proper dialogue & spell names with this remake, even though I'm also working on a RPG Maker remake of this game myself.



Some pictures from Soretta, and Mintos again.  Lots of emphatic Alena dialogue!  Also, I never knew it, but you can get special dialogue in both versions of the game by doing this part solo with Brey.

I've also polished Taloon's combat dialogue up to being almost identical to the NES, as well as taking a look at his appraisals dialogue.  Still considering about that.  For now, I'm moving on to Ragnar and Keeleon - one of my favorite areas so far in this project.


Whoa. I only noticed this topic now. :o

Like the majority here, I also didn't like the NDS localization at all. Thanks to those accents, I could barely understand what was going on. English isn't even my native language so it made things extra hard and confusing for me. Eventually I got so over saturated with trying to understand the dialogue that I gave up and just skipped through all of the text. I ended up beating the game without understanding most of the plot.

I wish you good luck with the project. I will be looking forward to see it finished. :)


Finished Seaside Village, which was very straightforward.  Also poking around and getting to all the dialogues opened up by the Thief's Key and Magic Key.

Keeleon Castle seems like it shouldn't take too long.  Most of the dialogue is already filled in from Chapter 4.  I'm going to look at the NES stuff, which I remember being very sparse, and connect with what I wrote in Ch.4 first.  Then I'll  go ahead and write up Ragnar's thrilling aristeia, in which you bust into the throne room and take on the monster.

The whole 'ordinary castle taken over by monsters' thing in Dragon Quest has always fascinated me, and it's been there from the beginning, with Charlock Fortress being sort of a mirror image of Tantagel.  Then Dragon Warrior 2, you get the dramatic fall of Moonbrooke - for the time, quite a cutscene, and a jarring before and after when you eventually get there on the adventure.  Anyway, Dragon Quest 4 has at least 3 examples of this series trope - Santeem, Keeleon, and Dire Palace - and I love it.

DQ Chao284

I know it takes time to get this completed in such a way, but there a Chance this could be completed next month?

But also I need to know if DQ5 on DS will also get the same refurbished Script?

Although I am still wondering if DQ5 and DQ6 have been removed of their Anti-Piracy Code or Worked around it, but in any case I wanted to throw that out there.


No, my work on DQ4 won't be done in January at the current pace.  However, I am committed to finishing it in 2016.

I'd like to move on to other personal projects after that.  I don't have the same history with DQ5 - in fact, I've never played the official DS one beyond the first hour or so.  I've heard the translation is fine, and alternatives exist, so at some point I might do a little work and change just the spells, monsters, items etc. Not in a big hurry for that.

I have had an exploratory look at DQ5 in the editor - enough to see that Crystaltile can show me the text and to see that pointers do look like they follow the same structure.  But I haven't playtested changes.

As far as what the special encoding I've heard about in those games really means to someone trying to alter it, I don't know.



Here's a few screens from Keeleon in Chapter 5.

In general the quality of the original DW4 translation is slipping as I work through Chapter 5.  I remember this being the case back when I played the game in the 90s.  Lots of sentence structure problems, and no humor.  Little emotion.  It's as though plenty of work went into the closed narratives for Ch 1-4, but not as much into the open world of Ch. 5.  Who knows what their production schedule was like back then, but I'm guessing it was tight. Luckily my schedule isn't bad - generally my job isn't too busy this time of year. I'm still thinking around July 2016 to get this whole thing done.  And I think Chapter 5 will be just fine, it pays off a lot of ongoing stories that were great from the previous chapters.

Now that I have all the characters, I'll be wandering around the world to look for unique dialogue based on having a specific character in your party.  Have to do it or I'll miss things.  After that, I'll go through the Panon / Stancia stuff, which is pretty minor, then Santeem, which is light on dialogue, and then on to Gardenbur.

I remember Gardenbur being pretty good, despite not having much dialogue either.  It's got a surprise that tends to get me every time.  I think there's a bit of dated attitude on display about women in the DW4 version, but having youtubed through it, it seems very mild.  Anyway, I'm interested to see how the DS script adjusted it.

Here's the end of Chapter 4.  I gave it a little polish today, and I'm happy with it.