Dragon Quest V

Dragon Quest V is a game that was legendary when I was a kid.  I remember everyone saying that Dragon Quest V had the best story, and Dragon Quest VI had the best graphics.  This was back around 1992 when the game first came out from Enix.  It finally was officially translated in 2009 for the DS.

Here, a nun discusses what your hero has endured up to this point in the story.

I actually don’t like Dragon Quest V that much.  It’s not that it’s a bad game.  Graphically, it’s not amazing, but considering the amount of gameplay in the game it’s quite acceptable.  Musically, the game resembles many of the remade Dragon Quest games.  It’s better than Dragon Quest IV, thanks to having the SNES music chip.  However, it doesn’t stand out, simply because so many Dragon Quest games use similar music.

While this isn't the best graphics a SNES can do, it is much more impressive than the NES Dragon Quest games.

There are several updates, compared to early NES RPGs.  You can talk via just hitting a button.  Another button opens doors and checks items.  You still have the option to open doors via a menu, however.

The hero starts to explore the world map in Dragon Quest V.

My main problem with the game is that the plot runs you through the wringer.  You start the game with a fairly positive mission, and then things quickly dissolve down to one disaster after another.  Now, yes, emotional impact is good.  However, when you’re looking at three hours of levelling, exploring, working only to get a disaster?  Then it’s a little harder to get the enthusiasm going to continue.  Dragon Quest IV had a similarly dark plot for sections, but overall you had slight successes to help mediate the more dark areas.

The battle screen has a similar layout to Dragon Quest. However, it's much more graphically impressive.

I think that’s a problem with looking at a game from now rather than as a new game?  If I didn’t know about the plot, then I wouldn’t be so negative on exploring it.  If I’d experienced the entire plot, with the depressing elements and the happier elements, I’d probably not be so leery of plowing through the darker parts of the game.

The lack of contrast between the floor tiles and the building tiles makes this feel a lot more "early" compared to Dragon Quest VI.

All in all, Dragon Quest V shows nostalgia for earlier games in the series.  It has an ambitious plot and continues the attempts to tell a dramatic story that was tried in Dragon Quest IV. The game works with what does it mean to be a child versus an adult.  The game works with the passage of time.  The game, like Phantasy Star III, allows your hero to marry.  All these elements are handled quite well.

My main problem with the game is that it’s a very depressing game to actually play for a lot of the early game.


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