RPG Review #104: Dragon Quest V

NuMetalManiak
Am I going through these too fast I wonder? Eh, it shouldn't matter, so many games in a franchise means I should get going through them often. Anyways the fifth in the Dragon Quest series, Hand of the Heavenly Bride, is the first to debut on the SNES rather than the NES, although the SNES version never was officially translated outside Japan. We here in the US had to wait for a DS port then, but I still decided to play a translation. And so the Dragon Quests continue.

Gameplay: I honestly don't want to talk about gameplay at this point to be honest, because everything from the previous Dragon Quests games is still here. Turn-based combat as usual, basic navigation. The tactics system from IV returns, but you can just set the tactics to manual and control everyone. The party size shrinks a bit to three, although the remakes keep it at four. The only real change to the system is monster recruits. After you beat a group of monsters, a monster may get up and seem to want to join the party, and it's a simple yes/no scenario. These monsters function just like party members, although since each is different, their equips will be different. Up to eight characters or monsters can be in the wagon, remaining characters hang out in a tavern later in the game, or in a monster daycare run by some old man. Apart from that, pretty much the same deal as in other Dragon Quests. You think for the first SNES Dragon Quest game they decide to do some brand new changes, but much of the core concepts remain the same. Grade: C+

Characters:
Hero: The main hero of the game is yet another "you name this guy". You watch this guy grow up and he's your main guy, although despite being the main character, he's not in actuality the legendary hero? Who could it be? Anyways this guy does have some healer traits which is always good for any hero.
Papas: With a name like Papas, you guessed it, he's the hero's father. Actually not a controllable character for the game but he's overpowered for a fighter and can hit twice. Like any overpowered character you can't have him for so long. He's known as Pankraz in the remake.
Bianca Whitaker: A childhood friend of the hero who has some spells and can use whips in combat. Later on she's a choice for marriage.
Flora: Also known as Nera, she's the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Ludman who's destined to have her marry someone. Naturally she's a choice for marriage as well, and is more of a mage than Bianca. In the DS remake you can also marry her sister Debora who's more of a haughty while Nera is more of a lady.
Prince Henry: Also known as Prince Harry, he's a mean prankster who's forced with the hero in a terrible event and warms up to him.
Sancho: He's Papas' attendant but also a playable character later on. He can wield bowguns.
Pippin: Some random soldier that can join.
Son: The son of the hero just so happens to be the legendary hero, so he can equip all the Zenithian equipment.
Daughter: The daughter of the main hero who's filling the obvious mage archetype while her prince brother is the hero archetype. Both of them get named, of course.

Hey! It's a generational game, with nameable hero, hero's son, and hero's daughter! Interesting stuff. I didn't include recruitable monsters here but they are also party members. And as par for the course for Dragon Quest, you're dealing with evil demon lords. Grade: B+

Plot: Dragon Quest V's plot is a rollercoaster. It has its ups, then it has its downs. It's crazy to go through. Let's start with the hero being born! So the kingdom of Granvania is run by King Papas. Disaster is bound to strike at any moment, so Papas leaves his kingdom with his son and goes on a journey with their attendant Sancho. This seems like a downer moment at first, then you have the nice little adventures with Bianca in saving the ghosts of a dead kingdom, and later a panther that's being bullied. Also the fairy world sidequest, and an interesting man who wishes to see a Golden Orb the hero has along the way. At Reinhart, Papas is assigned to babysit Prince Henry, the mischievous prince. Unfortunately trouble easily stirs, as the prince gets kidnapped and Papas and the hero have to find him. This is where we meet Gema, also known as Bishop Ladja. Now, as Ladja in the remake, this villain's role is more expanded, but for the intents of this review, we're looking at Gema. He basically curb-stomps both Henry and the hero along with the panther they had with them, and then when Papas attempts to fight, Gema uses the child hero as a shield, forcing Papas to stand his ground. Then Papas is killed by Gema. Oh boy, here's a big downer.

It gets even worse because guess where the hero and Henry end up? Yep, they are used as slaves for a good amount of their lives, like ten years worth. But the two manage to escape, finding the village that the hero grew up in razed by the unruliness of Reinhart, then at the scene, they defeat a false queen and bring hope to the kingdom, although Henry himself decides to leave the kingdom to his brother Dale instead of taking it, since he's learned quite a lot.

From there, the hero journeys westward, finding the town of Salabona where the wealthy merchant wants a groom for his daughter Flora/Nera. Two rings must be reached, water and fire. While the hero does this, he meets Bianca and her father in another village, where she journeys with him to get the rings. And then the hero has a choice! Marry either Bianca or Flora and have a nice life! Well not really that last part but he has been searching for his mother for quite a while and continues to do so, this time with a wife. That's when we reach Granvania, Papas' original home where he was king. The current king, Ojiron, who is Papas' cousin, gives the hero a quest to prove that he, the long-lost prince, can become king of the throne here, meanwhile whichever wife you chose is actually pregnant and has to sit out. After returning, you find that you have twins! Neat! Although this high peak of the game is quickly plummeted by the wife being kidnapped after a party goes wrong. And as the hero rescues his beloved the Jami (Kon) beast turns the two to stone.

The statues of the hero and wife are found and sold at an auction, with the hero's statue given to a wealthy family with a kid of their own as some sort of good luck charm. Years pass and the kid grows up, only to be kidnapped. More years pass and then Sancho and the two kids you had find you and restore you to normal. It's also discovered that the son is the Legendary Hero, who can wield the Zenithian equipment. The hero and his family avenge the death of Papas by killing Gema, along with finding the Master Dragon and restoring Zenithia Castle (which had sunk prior to the events of this game and was featured in DQ4). They later find the Great Temple, where the wife's statue is, the same temple built by the hero as a slave too, and get rid of Ivol in the depths to restore her to normal. It's revealed at this time that it's time to go to the demon world and eliminate the big evil, Mildrath. Also to find the hero's mother, Martha, who is sadly killed in an attempt to seal Mildrath off. After the confrontation, the hero and family return home finally, ending the rollercoaster plot high. Grade: A-

Music: It's usually nice, and that's about all there is to it. Not much variance between different themes, not that there needs to be though. But it's not exciting to be honest. Grade: C+

Overall Grade: B-

This series is so far improving on plot, but not necessarily gameplay as it's pretty much the same, grindy turn-based stuff that can drive me to boredom at times. The developers did put in plenty of interesting stuff though, but there are quite a few holes to fill.

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