01 - A Man from Leiknaba
02 - Buruno Village
03 - First Challenge
04 - Iron Safe
05 - Torneko's Shop
06 - Monster House
07 - New Shop
08 - A Wonderful Time
09 - Box of Happiness
10 - Little Waltz
The CD/artbook combo allows us to see illustrations like the one above, where a horde of monsters chase the hapless Torneko.
It was over 15 years ago that I got my hands on the CD Theater albums for Dragon Quest I and Dragon Quest II. I knew precious little about drama CDs back then, so I don't think I totally understood that what I had in my hands was special. Not only did these "CD Theater" albums come with beautiful artbooks, but they included newly-arranged music by Koichi Sugiyama's de facto protégé, Hayato Matsuo. Sadly, you will never find this music isolated outside of the dialogue and sound effects of these drama CDs, though some tracks on these albums do offer unmitigated sections of music, particularly in the first and last tracks of each album. Nonetheless, as a poor monolingual English-speaker, I almost wish someone would "fansub" these drama albums so I could read in English what I'm hearing in Japanese.
Do you remember Torneko? He's that adorable, pudgy merchant from Dragon Quest IV with the baggy pants. He would go on to get a few of his own spin-off games in the "Mysterious Dungeon" franchise, complete with rogue-like gameplay and loads of loot to find.
Strangely, among the CD Theater albums Enix produced, they decided to do one and only one outside of the main Dragon Quest series, and it was for the Torneko Mysterious Dungeon game. An interesting choice, yes? I agree. The cool thing about it is that there is some original music here, not just the expected themes you'd hear in Dragon Quest IV.
On the other hand, this album is a bit of a letdown. Hayato Matsuo didn't have a lot of source material with which to work, so a lot of the music is repeated from one track to the next. Even worse, while the other albums have artbooks at least 20 pages in length, this album's booklet is a mere six pages. What art is there, is good; but it's not much. The artwork in the other artbooks helps tells the story, giving the readers something with which to follow along. That isn't the case with this mini-artbook.
Ultimately, I'm just not sure why Enix felt the need to produce this album. It doesn't have as much going for it as the other CD Theaters do. And, from a story-telling perspective, there's only so much one can invest into our friend Torneko.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann