Well, the journey is nearing its end and there’s not much left for the hero to do aside from yet more level grinding.
So, if that’s the case it might as well be done with the best weapon in the game!
Charlock Castle is just west of Rimulder, but has been unreachable since it’s separated from the main continent. Using the Rainbow Drop at this strait creates the Rainbow Bridge of legend, which has a very spiffy animation added in this remake.
Despite being inaccessible until just now, Charlock Castle has been in plain sight throughout the game just to the southeast of Tantegel Castle. This was by design as the developers wanted the player to know their goal from the very beginning of the game. The remake has an interesting addition to the overworld design, putting the castle on rising layers to simulate climbing through the mountains.
The first floor of Charlock Castle has a bunch of barriers about that lead to different staircases. There’s no point in exploring; the stairs are fake. The real stairs are hidden. Searching the throne, which I forgot to do, indicates there might be something behind it. Searching there reveals the stairs.
Several floors below is the ultimate prize: Erdrick’s Sword. After grabbing the sword, I cast Outside and head to Tantegel Castle to heal up and save.
There are a bunch of other chests scattered throughout the castle. I’m not going to bother with any of them even though there are some additions and/or changes to the loot in this remake. I don’t need any of it and the probability of dying is pretty high.
The only thing left is to grind. During all this grinding I actually manage to defeat a metal slime. The remake has substantially tweaked the experience, but as I said before they really aren’t worth grinding on specifically.
At 19 I learn the last spell of the game:
Sizzle Firebane. And rather than continue grinding, I decide to take an attempt at the Dragonlord. In previous playthroughs I’ve battled him somewhere in the early 20s, but I do know it’s possible, though unlikely, to beat him as low as 18.1
Back at Charlock Castle I head to the lowest level and by the looks of it the Dragonlord hasn’t been up to much except sitting around waiting for me.
The encounter rate here can truly be insane and running tends to be only moderately effective. The most powerful encounters in the game are here and I personally run into three red dragons that pummel the hit points out of me before I can manage an escape.
Nevertheless I make it around the floor to the throne with most of my MP.
Rather than immediately attack, the Dragonlord first offers me half of the world. In the NES version, accepting the offer would turn the screen red and completely lock up the game. However, in this remake, you just wake up back at an inn, having had a nightmare.
The Dragonlord doesn’t take refusal well and attacks. As with every other strong enemy in the game, it’s mostly about keeping yourself alive as you trade blows and hoping he doesn’t put you to sleep for four rounds like he did to me. In fact, it seems like a rather anticlimactic battle.
The remake adds a bit of animation here as the Dragonlord’s body starts to dissolve and then change.
This second phase of the battle is a lot tougher than the first. In his true form, the Dragonlord has several different and quite powerful attacks. He also always gets the first turn, which can sometimes send you into a long string of turns where you’re constantly healing yourself. But the general rule stands and so long as you have the MP to keep yourself alive, you’ll eventually triumph.
After his defeat, the Dragonlord disappears and reveals the Ball of Light, which restores peace to Alefgard.
Outside the swamp has inexplicably dissolved around Charlock Castle. Benefits of the regained peace, I suppose. There are also no monsters to encounter on the overworld so you can safely travel around and revisit the various towns.
Or you can just Return to Tantegel Castle, King Lorik offers his throne to the hero who, in a rare occurrence for any DQ game, actually speaks! The hero sets off on a journey and, of course, Gwaelin insists on joining.
And, that’s it.
My console froze up right as the credits ended, but I was able to reset and it’s worked fine since. There’s no way to save after defeating the Dragonlord anyway, so there’s no harm done.2
Now onto the next game!