First released in 1992 by Enix, Dragon Quest V (five – or, to give the game its full title: Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride) is another fun-to-play JRPG that is simple but engaging, and also contains enough detail and surprises to feel worthwhile.
It was the first Dragon Quest game released for the Super Nintendo and sold over three million copies in Japan.
You might look at this game now and think: “it looks too simple”, but you have to play it to see that a simple story can be reasonably powerful if it touches certain emotions. And – without giving anything away – this one does; even if it’s done in a very spartan manner. In a nutshell, though, the game follows roughly thirty years of the life of a young boy – who you name and play – and who initially has his father to guide him.
What makes Dragon Quest Dragon Quest (as opposed to Final Fantasy or any other JRPG out there) are the monsters (some of the most recognisable in RPG history), the combat (random, turn-based, and following a distinct pattern), and the menus and timings (like, for example, when you stop moving: the status menu pops up).
Combat initiates with a flash and a window opens, allowing choices from the menu. You can set party members to attack automatically, according to a useful ‘Battle Plan’ menu setting, although you’ll probably want to set it to manual for boss fights and tougher areas. Defeated monsters will even offer to join the party, if you’re high enough levelled, and there are 40 monsters in the game that are available to recruit.
Dragon Quest V is a good continuation of the series and a decent game in its own right – even if it does look basic when compared to the game that followed it.
And one last thing to note: completing Dragon Quest V unlocks a bonus dungeon, which is a… um, bonus. It was the first Dragon Quest game to do this, and bonus, post-completion dungeons later became the norm in Dragon Quest games. Was this the birth of “New Game Plus“? It might have been… 🙂