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Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride

Score: 96%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: ArtePiazza
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG


Graphics & Sound:

You may have read my review of Dragon Quest IV that I wrote a few months back. Just like it, Dragon Quest V was never released in the US until now. Thankfully, it has been ported over to the DS as a follow-up to Dragon Quest IV. I say thankfully because I loved DQ IV and now I'm even more addicted to DQ V.

Graphically, Dragon Quest V looks very much like DQ IV did. I'm sure you'll recognize the monsters because they haven't really changed much at all. The hero and his party still have the same basic characteristics too. The only place that I really saw improvement is in the cut-scenes. They are much longer, prettier, and much more fluid than before. There is no choppiness in them at all and the color details are awesome. I'm honestly not sure if you can skip them or not because I never tried. I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of them.

The background music is just as nice to listen to as it was in the last game. However, you don't technically need the sounds since none of the characters actually speak out loud. All of their text is printed on the screen. But if you do leave the sounds on, you can pretty much fight a battle with your eyes closed. Each move in battle causes a sound so you can tell what is happening. The only thing you can't tell with your eyes closed is how much damage you took (you can tell I was playing really late at night quite a lot, because I just couldn't put it down!).


Gameplay:

Dragon Quest V starts off with your hero's birth. Obviously you can't play as a newborn infant so after a cut-scene, you'll flash forward 6 years. For some reason yet unknown to the player, your father, Pankraz, is no longer king (your hero doesn't know that he ever was king). He now travels the world looking for something and you travel along with him. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. At this point you'll learn how to fight, meet a new friend or two, and help some people out. As long as your dad is with you, you won't be able to die. He will heal you after every battle. You can also use his midheal to heal your party members. He never runs out of magic either.

Unfortunately for your hero, life doesn't stay this great. Now I'm not going to spoil the plot by telling you anything about what happens. What I will tell you is that you will play as the hero in three different stages of his life: childhood, teenage years, and adulthood. It's quite nice to see how your character grows up in these different stages.

There are a few things I should tell you about the game here. First, especially at the beginning of the game, your hero will be the one consistent member of the party. So personally I wouldn't waste any seed that you might find on your other players. In the first stage of his life especially, the game is quite easy so I didn't see the need to give a temporary character benefits that your hero would be able to use throughout the game. Maybe that's just me though. Second, don't worry about losing all your stuff between the first and second stages. You will get it back eventually.

Third, you will be able to recruit monsters to help you starting in the second stage after you get a wagon. These monsters will be quite helpful after you level them a bit. They will not necessarily listen to your commands until their wisdom is at least 20, so don't count on them to do what you told them to do in battle! I would recommend not selling back your weapons even from the beginning unless you're dying for the money. That way, you won't have to buy as much for your monsters. Different monsters require different equipment, so I kept everything until I was sure I didn't need it again.


Difficulty:

Dragon Quest V starts out very easy and gets progressively harder as you go. If you ever find it too hard though, you can always go kill monsters until you level up to the level you need to be. There are a few things that I found to be not so easy though.

Getting monsters to join you is random. Sometimes after you have beaten them, they will get back up and ask to join your party. Most of the time, they won't though. You can only have 4 people in your party, so if you let more monsters join than can fit, they will go in your wagon. You can only have 8 monsters total with you. This means that if you have 3 in your party, your wagon will be able to hold 5. If you recruit more than can fit in your wagon, you can choose which one to send back to your monster ranch for Monty to take care of. You can switch them out during battle, but it's not the easiest of systems. I would much prefer to switch from the main screen, but I guess it does help when you're stuck in battle to be able to call a different monster.

Dealing with party members that you can't control isn't very easy either. Most of the time they will make decent decisions, but the rest of the time I really wanted to yell at them for being stupid. The monsters can also be quite a challenge until their wisdom is at 20. You'll tell them to attack and about half of the time, they'll listen. But you can leave them in the wagon until they level up. It will take longer that way, but it will be less likely to drive you insane.


Game Mechanics:

Dragon Quest V is very easy to play, even if you have lost your stylus! There is no touch screen involved at all, which makes sense given that it is a port of an old SNES game. The controls are the exact same as in Dragon Quest IV, so if you played it then you already know how to play this one.

If you haven't played either of them yet then, I'll give you a very quick overview of the controls. To move your character around, you'll use the D-pad. The (A) button selects an action or confirms things. The (B) button cancels an action. It also lets you talk to your party members. The (X) button pulls up your display menu. This is where you'll go to rearrange items, use items or magic, and other such things. The (Y) button displays map information. This is really useful when you're in a town and need to find where everything is! Whenever you want to save your game, you'll need to find a church to save at. Another really helpful thing to know is that you can change your camera angle. The (L) and (R) buttons will rotate the camera for you. Sometimes this is the only way to find entrances that you might have missed otherwise.

As I said before, I really loved Dragon Quest IV when it came out. I had no clue that I was going to love Dragon Quest V even more so. If you like old school RPG's at all, you should go buy this one today. If you don't, you'll be missing out on a wonderful game!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Windows Clueless: The Game Sony PlayStation Portable Patapon

 
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