The merchant of menace

I may have mentioned it before, but this review playthrough of the Dragon Quest IV remake is the first time I’ve ever played the game, period. (Unless you count a couple of hours with the import version of the same remake, but eh.) I’ve just now reached chapter three and the tale of Torneko, aka Taloon, now properly known as Torneko Taloon, who like his friend Ragnar McRyan seeks to appease both Japanese language edition purists and NES translation purists alike. Such purity, indeed!

Anyway, Torneko is awesome. I understand can see how he launched his own cottage industry of roguelikes — his chapter of the game is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in a console RPG. It’s more like something out of Ultima Online, really.

You probably already know this, but Torneko’s chapter isn’t about saving the world or anything, although he does eventually become caught up in the game’s bigger plotline, which does indeed involve saving the world from grim and certain disaster. But he starts out as a simple, unassuming merchant, a modest family man seeking to make his fortune in the world by traveling the deadly wastes to find somewhere to set up his shop. Much of his story, I’ve found, involves going to work every day and trading with a steady stream of customers, slowly building up his earnings until he can afford to buy the gear necessary to strike out on his own and find success. Every once in a while, you’ll get lucky and someone will come trade a phenomenally expensive item which nets Torneko a huge commission… but mostly slow and steady does it.

It’s not very exciting, and I feel like I should hate the repetitive randomness of the whole process, but I’m really enjoying it. Torneko’s nine-to-five is a welcome counterpoint to the usual monster-slaying and level-grinding of console RPGs, and Torneko himself is incredibly likable despite having no dialogue whatsoever. He’s a stout fellow with a loving family and a hometown rife with Cockney accents, for some reason, and such is the nature of Dragon Quest’s minimalist style that these minor attributes are sufficient to make him thoroughly endearing. I’m starting to understand why this series is such a monster in its native land.

Uh, and I was lying about the menace thing. Torneko’s pretty much the opposite of menacing. I just thought it was a punchy title. Surely you don’t expect journalistic integrity here, of all places.

(Completely fantastic image swiped from FFVII Citadel)

10 thoughts on “The merchant of menace

  1. When I look at that image, all I can think of are the words “big” and “pimpin’.”

  2. Bah! The joy of his chapter is that most of the random encounters you fight drop valuable items, for practically the only time ever in a Dragon Quest game! And then you sell your stuff and make even more money! It’s the only time ever in a DQ game that money comes easily.

    But, uh, yeah. He’s awesome. His was easily my favourite chapter of the NES game.

  3. “(Completely fantastic image swiped from FFVII Citadel)”

    I don’t know why, but for some reason that image got me hoping that somehow, Tifa had become a playable character in this DS remake. Thank you for raising hopes I never even knew I had and dashing them every bit as quick, mr. parish.

  4. Yes, Taloon’s (now Torneko’s, I guess) chapter is clearly the best because it’s just so different from anything else. Also, you’ve hit upon the fact that, despite his lack of dialogue, he seems to have so much personality. Just wait until you see how he expresses himself in Chapter 5. I don’t care if he isn’t optimal, he was almost always in my party.

  5. I KNEW his part must be really fun! Yeah, I’ll be reading that review.

    So is his part like a rougelike then? I know he got a spin-off later on, but is this where it all began in terms of how they play?

    Great image, though Tifa looks out of place there. Well, it explains why it was at the FF7 Citadel.

  6. Maybe it’s just me, and it sounds like it that’s a real possibility, but I always thought that Taloon’s chapter drags a bit, especially in the end.

    To DB, above, I wouldn’t call Chapter III of DQIV rogue-like by any means, but Taloon/Torneko is one of the least “powerful” characters you get in the entire game, so the makers just decided to throw you a few curve balls. There are more puzzles and fewer tough fights compared to the rest of the game, and his final quest is fulfilling a merchandise order rather than taking out a big bad!

  7. Just for anyone who hasn’t followed the link and is confused, the image is from Itadaki Street, a Japan-only Monopoly-like that wantonly combines Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy cameos.

  8. This is my most anticipated DS game this year. Chrono Trigger is awesome, but I’ve played that before many times.

  9. Ok, speaking from a true DQ fanboy, loved the whole Taloon chapter. For once you were the salesguy. I still don’t see how this spun off into a Rouge-like series… but until I read this blog I never ever knew about that.

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