Could Dragon Quest V: Hand Of The Heavenly Bride Be The Best Mobile Dragon Quest?
The Dragon Quest series' success outside of Japan has always been on shaky ground. Though it is a staple of the impressive selection of RPGs in the Land of the Rising Sun, the games have never truly caught on in the same way out west. Though the most recent incarnation that is a remake of a game that was released nearly two decades ago, this is a rehash worthy of any RPG buff's time and attention. From an engrossing plot to extremely slick presentation, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is a generation-spanning, rewarding adventure that is sure to delight both new and old series fans -- especially those looking to augment their mobile collection of remakes, given the fact that in recent years Dragon Quest has made a home for itself on mobile devices.
For a change of pace, Dragon Quest V's subtitle has very much in common with the actual events of the game. As the game progresses you will see the unnamed protagonist subjected to various tragedies throughout his young life: his father slaughtered before his eyes, a life of slavery, and ten years of grueling, hard work. The epic story, spanning over ten years, is not your average "save the princess/world/galaxy" struggle. Instead, it tugs at the heartstrings with an introspective look at life and how fleeting even the happiest moments can be. Rather than focusing on a ragtag bunch of individuals and their interaction between them, Hand of the Heavenly Bride seeks to involve the gamer on a much more personal level, and as previously mentioned, it is even possible for your protagonist to choose between multiple candidates for marriage. As a purveyor of many an RPG throughout the years, it is safe to say that Dragon Quest V's most notable aspect is indeed its storyline.
This is, for all intents and purposes, your typical RPG. Guiding the protagonist through various locations is the goal here. Battling, bosses, villages, inns - you name it. Every conventional RPG staple is here. With that said, it's inevitable that there will be skirmishes. DQV implements, as expected, random turn-based battles. You can instruct all members of the party, while pertinent information is displayed on the top screen. All the carnage is depicted on the lower screen. You have the typical host of RPG battle commands at your disposal here, but if time is of the essence or issuing commands individually is too tedius, there are options to heal, attack, or conserve magic. This is a fantastic option for those who would rather speed through unwanted random encounters, and helpful when throwaway party members are implemented. Though randomized enemies are the bane of many a gamer's existence due to their banality and infinite palette swaps, DQV switches things up abit. According to your location on the map and what time it is in-game, different monsters will appear. The variety of monsters available is remarkably innovative, providing that there is very little sameness. When other games would tend to get bogged down in this aspect, DQV excels.
The monster selection is so varied in fact that the game hosts a PokÃ©mon-like taming system. The protagonist can enlist the help of different types of enemies throughout the game and equip them with armor, level them up, and treat them as regular party members. Up to eight party slots can be filled with monsters, but when the vacancies have been filled, recruits can be stored at a monster daycare comparable to Bill's PC. One downfall that this system presents, however, is the fact that recruiting cannot be controlled. If you have your eye on a specific creature with abilities you fancy, be prepared to wander for quite a while until the monster decides to join up. Luckily, you are able to train monsters efficiently via the usage of a wagon. Poorly, low-level monsters can mellow in the wagon until they have been brought to a sufficient level, because frequent death without this safeguard is certain.
This trek is a timely one; clocking in at over 40 hours. Though the engrossing story shouldn't begin to bog down, there is a variety of other activities to partake in to break the monotony. Scattered throughout the world are medals to collect that can be bartered for unique equipment. This should keep collectors busy. Also, the game world boasts casinos, board games, and a bonus dungeon to test your skill. If the need arises to game with others, DQV provides the option to create and swap customizable items with friends. True, a full-blown multiplayer option this is not, but it does provide a nice little feature to waste time with when the main quest isn't feeling so imperative to complete.
As this is a remake of a Super Famicom title, a host of new content should be expected these days, and the game does offer that, as this seems to be about the same amount of content we could expect from the DS remake a few years ago. DQV delivers with new playable characters and locations, but where the polish is most evident is in the graphical update. Detailed and intricate 3D environments are displayed across both screens. Rich pastels and colorful landscapes are pleasing to the eye, as well are the sprites designed by prolific creator Akira Toriyama. This is a gorgeous update from the original game that rivals only Square Enix's recent reimaginings of Final Fantasy III and IV. The camera is simple to master and can be utilized in exploring every nook and cranny of the world - something many games still lack.
Your time spent in the world of Hand of the Heavenly Bride is keenly scored with lilting orchestral movements with majestic fanfares abound. Though lacking in the memorable aspects that Final Fantasy and the like seem to flourish, the music never feels any less than epic, and that's what this Dragon Quest is all about. Composer Koichi Sugiyama's presence was much less notable here than in Chrono Trigger.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is a masterful remake of one of the most influential RPGs of the 16-bit era. Whether you enjoyed it via fan translations or in any way you could get it, there is much to enjoy in this delightful little package. It's a brilliant tribute to a long-running, successful series that will hopefully make a few more fans as more and more of the installments make stunning stateside debuts. If you haven't experienced a Dragon Quest title before now, this is the game to begin with -- especially if you're keen on playing them on the go.