By Spencer . February 25, 2009 . 4:33pm
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is much like the other games in the Dragon Quest series. You fight slimes in random battles using a turn based combat system, trod through dungeons, and even revisit some old locations.
Dragon Quest V simply sticks to the Dragon Quest formula. You either love its classic charm or loathe the lack of evolution. If you’re in the former category you’re probably playing Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride right now. If you’re in the latter this is why you should give Dragon Quest V a shot even if you never played a Dragon Quest game before.
Easy To Learn
Let’s say you never played an RPG (as unlikely as that may be on Siliconera!). Dragon Quest V is easy to get into. The elementary combat system and optional AI control bridges the gap for first time RPG players. Dragon Quest V, like the other games, is pretty friendly about death too. You won’t see a game over screen if you get walloped by King Slimes. You’re whisked back to town with half your money, which is the main penalty. You still keep all your experience so the next time you enter an area where you perished your characters will better prepared.
Believe it or not Dragon Quest V has elements Pokemon fans will enjoy. Use this fact to persuade your kid brother to give Dragon Quest a chance. You can collect slimes and have them fight alongside you in battle. There isn’t any negotiation or deal making either. Monsters just randomly join, if you’re powerful enough. Once in your party you can leave a monster insider of your caravan where they gain a portion of experience as if they were doing the work. This feature makes leveling monsters up less tedious. Monster allies feel more like regular party members too since you can equip them and stick as long as you want them. Just throw them in the “monstergarten” if your party is full. The party in the remake has also mushroomed to four characters instead of three in the Super Famicom version.
A Journey That Doesn’t Drag
Dragon Quest games are about a journey, often thought of as a time consuming journey with lots of grinding. Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride has less grinding than you may think. Maybe it’s because I’ve played too many Shin Megami Tensei games recently, but I haven’t found the need to run around in circles and fight drackys to level up. Dragon Quest V isn’t a cakewalk, though. As long as you have a diverse group of monsters you can keep your party balanced and get through the game without much of a problem. Also, Dragon Quest V isn’t an epic 50 hour quest. Most people should get through it the first time under 30 hours.
In the middle of the hero’s life you’re given a choice, now three choices in the Nintendo DS version, of who you want to be your bride. The decision doesn’t dramatically steer the plot into wild directions with time traveling robots. But, after you meet the three women: feisty Deborah, reserved Flora, and childhood friend Bianca you’ll want to see the alternate story sequences and what your kids look like. This gives Dragon Quest V a notch more replay value than your average RPG.
Watch The Hero Grow
At the start of Dragon Quest V you control a purple turban wearing kid under the care of his father. Wait, step back a second, you begin the game watching the hero’s birth. In the final stage the hero matures into a family man with children of his own. Most RPGs focus on a small slice of time, usually the one involving the end of the world. Dragon Quest V takes you through life’s milestones.
The focus on a single character through many trials and tear jerking moments connects the player to the hero more intimately than other RPGs. The plot stands out and feels fresh even though it’s over a decade old. The only game that comes close to doing what Dragon Quest V did is Lost Odyssey since it followed Kaim through a 1,000 years. However, you only read about Kaim’s side stories in sound novel form. It’s a nice touch that builds Kaim, but this doesn’t delve as deeply into the hero’s life as Dragon Quest V does. If you value character development Dragon Quest V delivers it in spades.