***** SPOILERS AHEAD *****
Madason’s father, Pankraz
Madason is born in a castle to King Pankraz and Queen Madalena. However, something happens to Madalena right after Madason’s birth.
Madason wakes up, 6 years old, to find that was all a dream. He’s been traveling with his father, Pankraz. They return to their home in the village of Whealbrook, where a servant of Pankraz’s, Sancho, waits.
Madason as a child
Madason begins on going on some adventures. He sneaks out with a friend, Bianca, and together bust some ghosts haunting a nearby castle. Madason is given a gold orb by the grateful spirits that can now rest. Madason and Bianca then rescue a large kitten, named Saber, from some bullies. Saber accompanies Madason. Soon after Madason is approached by a fairy who can only be seen by children. The fairy, Honey, asks Madason to retrieve the Flute of Spring which the fairies use to end Winter and bring in Spring. Madason also has a strange encounter with a man that looks kind of like him who asks to see his gold orb.
After that Pankraz is called to the kingdom of Coburg to guards its prince and heir, a spoiled rotten boy named Harry. Madason goes with. Harry gets away from the two and is then kidnapped. Pankraz and Madason go off in pursuit. They overhear that Harry’s stepmother, Queen Dowager, arranged Harry’s kidnapping so that her son, Wilbur, will ascend to the throne. They rescue Prince Harry but monsters show up. Pankraz holds them off while the kids flee.
However, the kids are cut off by three monsters. The leader, Bishop Ladja, easily defeats them. When Pankraz catches up Ladja sics the other two, Slon the Rook and Kon the Knight, on him. Pankraz defeats them both. Then Ladja holds a scythe to Madason’s neck. Pankraz is forced to let Slon and Kon beat on him. They did a cool and powerful thing here by putting botg fights in the battle system. Pankraz has a ton of HP and defense so it takes a ton of hits by the monsters to whittle him down while all he can do is “stoically take the assault.”
Near death, Pankraz tells Madason that his mother is still alive and implores him to find her. His mother is held in Naridia, the underworld, and only the legendary hero will be able to find her. That is who Pankraz has been searching for. Ladja burns Pankraz to ash with Kafrizzle. Ladja then finds Madason’s gold orb and destroys it. He orders Saber to be set loose and the kids to be put into slavery for the Order of Zugzwang…
Escape from Slavery
Madason and Harry are put to work for 10 years with other slaves building a gigantic temple for the Order of Zugzwang on top of Mount Azimut. Many slaves are worked to death. The Order is supposedly meant to save people from the coming darkness and the temple is meant to be a utopia. The Order promises that the slaves will all be freed when the temple is complete but rumors abound that they will actually all be executed.
Madason and Harry help a slave named Maria who used to be a cleric of the Order but rebelled when she found out about the horrible stuff they’d been doing. In return, her brother Joshua, a soldier working for the Order, helps Madason, Harry, and Maria escape at great personal peril. The three drift to Heaven’s Above Abbey, an abbey of nuns. Maria immediately joins the nuns while Madason and Harry set off on a journey to find Madason’s mother.
Liberation of Coburg
As the two journey they soon hear disturbing rumors about Coburg: Harry’s stepmother Queen Dowager is ruling as a tyrant. She is neglecting her people to build up her military for world domination. The two come to Whealbrook and find it destroyed. Apparently, Queen Dowager blamed Pankraz for Harry’s abduction and thus had the village burned down. Another punch to Madason and the player. Nearby Roundbeck, Bianca’s hometown, still stands but Bianca and her family have moved away some time ago.
The news of Coburg weighs on Harry and the two eventually return to Coburg. Harry sneaks them in the castle. They find the real Queen Dowager is held in the dungeon while a fake is on the throne. But they need proof. They read in the castle library of the Mirror of Ra which can dispel illusions, a recurring DQ item. The Mirror is kept in a nearby tower overseen by Heaven’s Above Abbey. They recruit Maria to help them get in and retrieve the Mirror. With the Mirror they confront the fake Queen, revealed to be a monster, and defeat her.
Coburg is saved! King Wilbur offers Harry the throne but Harry refuses. Instead, Harry will stay in Coburg to help Wilbur rule. Maria returns to the Abbey. Madason will continue on his adventures. Nothing is done to the real Queen Dowager who, while not a tyrant, still arranged Harry’s kidnapping 10 years ago. I guess she already served a sentence in prison to the fake.
Hand of the Heavenly Bride
It is said that the legendary hero will need to gather the Zenithian Sword, Helm, Shield, and Armor, the same legendary equipment from DQ4. In fact, the Legendary Hero will be of the same bloodline as the hero of DQ4. Thus, to find the Hero Madason must gather those same items and they’re sure to bump into each other. Pankraz had this idea first and had found the Zenithian Sword. Now, being Madason is the MC you’d expect him to equip the Sword. But he can’t. All he can do is take it with him.
Madason hears of a family shield owned by a wealthy man named Rodrigo Briscoletti and its description matches the Zenithian Shield. Briscoletti will bestow the shield to whoever marries his daughter Nera but he wants to ensure potential suitors are worthy of his daughter. Thus, against Nera’s will, Briscoletti tells any young men that want to court his daughter to seek out the Circle of Fire and the Circle of Water. Both are kept in dangerous locations. Left with no other leads, Madason retrieves the rings.
For the Circle of Water he is aided by his childhood friend, Bianca. Bianca and her father moved to a remote village due to his failing health. Bianca helps Madason get the ring and the two catch up. It becomes clear that Bianca has fallen in love with Madason.
Thus sets up perhaps the most famous part of the game. Madason returns to Briscoletti with the rings and is declared fit to marry Nera. However, Nera realizes that Bianca has feelings for Madason too. Therefore, Madason has to choose which to be his bride. In the DS version Nera has a sister, Deborah, who is very rude and verbally abuses everyone. She’s added as a third choice. I took Bianca on this run. She’s arguably the “canon” bride: she’s featured on the game cover.
Regardless of who you choose Briscoletti decides he likes Madason. Thus, even if you don’t choose one of his daughters you get the Zenithian Shield. It’s pretty cool at this point to go back to a few places, such as Coburg to visit Harry, and view Party Chat with whichever bride you chose.
The MC’s Origins
The quest for the Legendary Hero takes Madason to Helmunaptra where the Zenithian Helm is. The queen there will only give the Helm to the Legendary Hero, proven by being able to equip the Helm. She does tell Madason that she’s heard of Pankraz and says Pankraz was king of a nearby kingdom called Gotha. She urges Madason to go there.
It is as she says. Madason reunites with Sancho and the two show themselves to King Albert, Pankraz’s younger brother. Albert is only too happy to give the throne to his nephew. However, Chancellor Jeeves insists that Madason must undergo the Initiation Rite, which includes going to a dungeon and getting a royal seal. Meanwhile, Bianca collapses. It seems she’s pregnant! While she rests Madason goes to get the seal.
Tragedy Strikes Anew
Madason returns with the seal. Bianca gives birth to a twin boy and girl soon after. Everything is looking up for Madason. He’s crowned king in short order. The partying goes into the night. Madason wakes up and finds the whole castle asleep. Sensing something is wrong he hastens to his room. He finds Bianca gone, kidnapped by monsters who snuck in. Bianca was able to hide the children with a maid before the kidnapping.
Madason gives chase to a monster-infested tower. He finds Bianca held by Kon the Knight, one of the monsters who beat up Pankraz before his death. At first Madason is unable to harm Kon but a strange power from Bianca breaks Kon’s shield. Kon realizes that the blood of the hero flows through Bianca. Madason defeats Kon. Unfortunately, Bishop Ladja shows up. He reveals the Order of Zugzwang had been kidnapping prominent children as it was said the Legendary Hero would be of high birth. He turns Madason and Bianca to stone to avoid the birth of the hero, not realizing that they already had kids.
Kon the Knight
Madason and Bianca are sold as statues. Madason is purchased by a wealthy man as a good luck charm. The man brings Madason home where he has his own newborn. Madason is forced to stand as a statue for years. During this time he witnesses his buyor’s son’s growth from a baby to a child. However, then even the man’s child is kidnapped by monsters.
The Legendary Hero
8 years after being turned to stone Sancho and two children happen upon Madason. The girl is able to cure Madason. The children turn out to be Madason’s own children, default names are Parry and Madchen. And it turns out Parry is the Legendary Hero! He can equip the Zenithian equipment and everything. That’s a pretty cool twist. In a series that loves making its MC’s Chosen Ones in this case the Chosen One isn’t the MC but the MC’s son. With that you can return to Helmuptra and get the Zenithian Helm, leaving only the Armor to be found. After that, it’s time to search for Bianca.
On the way they come to Lofty Peaks, the birthplace of Madason’s mother, Madalena. Madalena was gifted with special powers including the ability to befriend monsters, a power Madason has inherited, and the power to open the gate to Nadiria, the underworld. There was a human that used the Secret of Evolution (from DQ4) to turn into such a powerful form he was sealed in Nadiria. That person is Grandmaster Nimzo. Nimzo has been the cause of all the bad things that have happened as he works towards coming into the world. It was by his orders that Madalena was taken so she could open the gate. The Order of Zugzwang has been attempting to bring him into the world.
Throughout the game you hear people talk and wonder what happened to the castle in the sky, Zenithia. Madason finds Zenithia at the bottom of a lake, ruined and abandoned. Along the way he meets a strange man named Dr. Agon. Dr. Agon claims to be a Zenithian and identifies why Zenithia fell: it’s missing one of the orbs it needs to fly. Madason and Dr. Agon then realize the gold orb is the same Madason found that was then destroyed by Bishop Ladja. All hope seems lost but Dr. Agon says to seek out the fairies as they were the ones that made the orb.
The fairies are unable to create a new orb but direct Madason to a painting that may be able to help him. The painting takes him into the past, when he was a kid. That stranger from the beginning of the game was future-now-present-Madason. The fairies gave you a gold bauble that looks like the orb so you need to talk to you kid-self and switch the two. Thus, the object Ladja destroyed is a fake and you go back to the present with the real one. A cool thing about this part is you can visit Pankraz and try to get him not to go to Coburg. He won’t change his course of action, of course, but he does note there’s something familiar about you.
With the gold orb Zenithia is restored and the Zenithians return. Riding the castle Madason is able to find Talon Tower. Inside he finds two of his nemeses: Slon the Rook but more importantly Bishop Ladja. Finally you get to fight Ladja, the cause of so much of Madason’s suffering. In the original SNES version Madason kills both in Talon Tower. In the DS version Ladja escapes after defeat.
Slon the Rook
Inside Talon Tower is a Dragon Orb. The Dragon Orb reveals the true form of Dr. Agon: the Zenith Dragon who watches over the world, leader of Zenithia. With the Zenith Dragon’s help Madason finally returns to the temple on Mt. Azimuth. After all this time the temple has finally been completed.
Taking the Fight to the Enemy
Madason disrupts a ceremony meant to sacrifice the surviving slaves. The ceremony is apparently led by his own mother, Madalena, and Bianca’s statue is on the stage. Madalena is actually a monster, Queen Ferz, is disguise, who is defeated. Madason goes into the tunnels underneath the temple, the tunnels he worked in as a slave. Hauntingly, you find the corpse of Joshua who had helped you escape. In his hand is a farewell to his sister Maria.
Madason finds and confronts the leader of the Order of Zugzwang, King Korol. Korol is defeated but calls on Nimzo with his final breaths to banish Madason. Instead, Bishop Ladja appears and declares Korol was only a figurehead and finishes Korol off before disappearing. Korol drops the Circle of Life upon his death.
Madason hears the voice of his mother on his way out. Madalena is overjoyed to finally be able to talk with her son. However, she urges Madason to stay away from Nadiria, saying that not even the legendary hero could stand up to Nimzo now.
On the bright side, Bianca is finally revived! Madason and Bianca reunite at last and Bianca gets to meet her children. The family returns to Gotha. Sancho and Albert try to get the family to remain in Gotha rather than run off to Nadiria. It’s a subtle but nice touch; they’ve been pretty supportive of all Madason’s adventures so far but at this point the danger is so high that they think the risk is too great.
The Final Battle
The Circles of Fire, Water, and Life unlock the path to Nadiria. Madason and his party proceed to Nimzo’s home on Mt. Zugzwang. Inside Madason finally meets his mother face-to-face. Madalena is trying to use her power to weaken Nimzo but Bishop Ladja comes forward and wounds Madalena. Madason fights Ladja once again and this time finally kills the bastard. However, Madalena is then finished off by lightning from Nimzo himself. Pankraz’s spirit appears, telling Madalena it’s time for them to go, and their spirits, reunited, go to the afterlife.
Madason proceeds to the heart of the mountain and comes face to face with Grandmaster Nimzo himself. In a cool touch Nimzo speaks with an altered font that contributes to the feeling that he’s otherworldly. Nimzo declares that he has more power than even the Goddess.
In an intense battle Madason and his family are victorious. Grandmaster Nimzo is destroyed and finally the nightmare is over. Madason and his family tour the world to celebrate the newfound peace. Finally, they return to Gotha where a grand party is held. During the party the spirits of Pankraz and Madalena look down with joy on their child and grandchildren.
The villains have a chess theme in this game. Many of the key members of the order of Zugzwang have titles that follow chess pieces. Kon the Knight, Slon the Rook, Bishop Ladja, Queen Kern, King Korol. The main villain is Grandmaster Nimzo, named after real-life unofficial grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch. Zugzwang is a chess term meaning, “a situation in which the obligation to make a move in one’s turn is a serious, often decisive, disadvantage.” Interesting enough, the villains’ names are Russian and also translate to chess pieces though there is one mismatch. Kern means Queen, Korol means King, and Kon means Knight. However, Ladja actually means Rook and Slon means Bishop.