Dear old-school RPG developers making games for the Nintendo DS, specifically those responsible for Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Of The Chosen... er...
Ok, let me start again.
Dear Arte Piazza, the studio which developed Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Of The Chosen for the Nintendo DS:
Hi! You may have noticed that the Nintendo DS has a touch screen. This little technical marvel allows players to tap directly at menu choices and commands to execute them, as an alternative to navigating a cursor via a varied amount of d-pad taps and a confirmation button press.
What does this mean? Well, what might normally take six d-pad taps and three button presses would require just three taps. What might normally require a full second would require half of that. Now, these numbers might sound a little nitpicky and insignificant, but you may have *also* noticed that your game requires a lot of grinding for levels. When you spend hours upon hours in battle menu screens that require nothing more than d-pad taps and button presses, not to mention the hours you'll spend managing your inventory which also leave you in menu screens that require nothing more than d-pad taps and button presses, maybe -- just maybe -- those potential half-seconds saved add up, hmm?
The game you've developed also gives each character his or her own item bag in addition to the communal item bag. As such, you've allowed characters to swap items. Have you ever heard of "drag and drop"? It's this amazing new feature invented when the first graphical user interface surfaced in personal computing about, oh, I'd say well over two decades ago. You select an item... drag it over to where you want it to go... and then unselect it! With a touch-screen interface, swapping items between characters in Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Of The Untouchable becomes a piece of cake instead of managing Chernobyl! Fancy that.
The fact that you've represented menu commands such as Fight, Item, and Line-Up in these very large outlined boxes is a great start in creating an interface that one can operate by using even the meatiest of index fingers. Now, the next step is -- wait for it -- actually implementing the touch part. If you're going to port a game that can legitimately be played ENTIRELY with finger or stylus taps without missing a beat to a platform that has a touch screen for finger and stylus taps, it probably makes sense to allow your audience to use that technology. But then, I'm no game designer, hahaha!
While we're here, let me make two more observations.
1) Every time a character levels up, the game scrolls through each individual's attribute upgrades and spells learnt -- consecutively, I might add -- via the same tiny text box you use for in-game battle narration. You may have noticed that the DS has not one, but TWO full screens with which you could have displayed all of that information simultaneously. Wow! The things that the 21st century has to offer!
2) I think it's charming, in an old-school "You'll do things the way we tell you to" way, that you force your players to find a priest in order to see how many experience points each character needs to level up. I think it's even more charming that this information is delivered sequentially, one character after another, in a scrolling text box. Finally, it's ever so loyal of you to stick to Dragon Quest's roots with this method of info gathering. But for the idiots and lazy people out there -- you know, like me -- maybe you could do us a favor and let us see this information laid out in each character's attributes page. Because, you know, us stupid ones only really want to see info for one or two characters once in awhile. And, ya know, sometimes that priest is too far away. (Also, some of us are atheists.)
Thanks a ton -- kisses!
P.S. - This letter will arrive too late for you to actually think about these thangs for Dragon Quest V for the DS, but do think about it for Dragon Quest VI. Or, you know, any other old-school RPG you decide to port to a modern-day, touch-screen enabled platform.
P.P.S. - I like your game. But next time, please don't make it so hard to like.