Even better than the over world graphics is the attention to detail put into each and every one of the monsters you encounter. Dragon Quest has always been about creating a world full of endearing (and often cute) monsters to battle. Let's face it; at least one of the popular Dragon Quest monsters has gone on to have their own E-rated spin-off. Sure these enemies are adorable, but that doesn't stop them from being able to defeat your whole party if you let them. Each of the game's multiple enemies has a unique look and animated moves. It's a real joy to come across each and every one of these little buggers, even when you are woefully outclassed.
Better still, weapon-based combat isn't the only thing you get to do with these cuddly creatures. Some enemies can be recruited into your party, giving you
yet another character to help you fight your way to victory. Like your traditional human friends, these monsters can be leveled up and will even accept the same sorts of weapons and armor. The nice thing about these helpers is that you don't have to pay too much attention to them if you don't want to. You can completely ignore this aspect of the game if you see fit. However, if you're especially hardcore, you can take on all sorts of different characters and figure out which is best for you (or the situation). I wouldn't be surprised if there are people that really geek out at this aspect of the game, doubling the play time just to collect each and every one of the available characters.
Unlike some of Square Enix's other recent Nintendo DS titles, Dragon Quest V wisely avoids all of the touch screen gimmickry. You won't have to control your character using a stylus or push the screen to trigger magic spells; instead you play the game using the traditional D-pad and face buttons. In that sense it plays almost exactly like the Super Famicom original, which is exactly how I like it. The only real change to this version (aside from the polygonal graphics) is the fact that both screens are used to show your location, giving you a lot more visibility when you're in town or fighting through those pesky dungeons.
Unfortunately not everything is new in Dragon Quest V. Old school role-playing gamers will no doubt notice that the dreaded random battle is alive and well in this port. Seeing as this is a staple of the old school RPG I didn't expect the developers to take it out completely, but after playing through Chrono Trigger it's hard to go back to a game where you have to fight it out every three steps. Thankfully there are ways around the random battles (including items you can use), but there's no denying that this is one of those ancient RPG clichés that should have been addressed in this remake.
If you can get past the random battles and the often ludicrous dialog, you'll discover that Dragon Quest V is one of the best adventure games of all time. Best of all, this is an adventure game most American gamers never had a chance to experience (and if they did, it wasn't in English). Even without the presentation of a Final Fantasy III or IV, this Dragon Quest remake holds up remarkably well. The storyline is poignant and I love the idea of watching your character grow and fight through twenty years. This is a game that is simple enough to keep casual adventurers happy, while at the same time giving hardcore fans a reason to sink their teeth into it. No matter what kind of gamer you are, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is definitely worth your time and money. Hopefully this won't be the last Dragon Quest remake Square Enix has in store for the Nintendo DS.
On the surface it looks like a simplistic role-playing game with cartoony graphics and a less-than-serious story. But Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is so much more than that. It's a deep adventure game full of memorable characters and an epic story. It's a game that takes you on a journey that lasts some twenty years. And best of all, it's a quest you likely have never gone on. For that reason alone, Dragon Quest V is a must-own!
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