Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dragon Quest V DS

With Dragon Quest IX coming out this summer, what better to whet your appetite for this game than by checking out a couple of the other Dragon Quest titles available for the Nintendo DS. Last week, I covered Dragon Quest IV. This week, I'll cover Dragon Quest V. This is a remake of Dragon Quest V for the Super Famicom that was never released to North America. This game takes place several generations after Dragon Quest IV. After defeating the demonlord in Dragon Quest IV, the green-haired hero from Dragon Quest IV went on to have children and their children had children and so on and so forth until the generation in which Dragon Quest V takes place. In this game, you'll encounter the descendant of the legendary hero...and no, you're not playing that descendant.

Speaking of generations, this game spans across three generations of the main character's life. You start out as an eight-year old boy living with his father who is the chief of a small village. After a series of misadventures as a child (and a series of tragic events), you play through the second generation as an adult traveling the world. Your father is no longer alive and you have inherited his quest of seeking out the legendary hero so you can rescue your mother who was abducted by monsters and taken to the underworld on the day you were born. Your father was determined to find the legendary hero by gathering the Zenithian sword, armor, shield, and helmet, the same set of armor that only the hero in Dragon Quest IV could use.

During your travels as an adult, you become married with children and return to the kingdom where you were born to discover something important your father kept from you. After another series of tragic events, you play through the third generation traveling with your two kids, two six-year old twins, as you finally meet the legendary hero and eventually rescue your mother from the underworld and confront the demonlord responsible for kidnapping her.

This particular Dragon Quest throws several gimmicks at you to not only keep you from being bored too quickly but also to push you to play through the game again after your first playthrough. First of all, this Dragon Quest has a monster recruitment system. The original version of Dragon Quest V is the first game in the Dragon Quest franchise that allowed you to have some of those Akira Toriyama creations like those blue slimes that appear in every Dragon Quest game fight on your side for a change*. Starting in the second generation of the main character's life, there are monsters that may or may not get up and join you after a battle. Each of these monsters have their own set of abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and levels they cap at. I should note that the original version of Dragon Quest V predates the Pokemon games by four years, so don't be accusing this game of being a Pokemon rip-off.

*Yes, the same guy that did Dragonball also did the character designs for all the Dragon Quest games...and the Blue Dragon games too.

Second, this game utilizes a party chat feature. That means whenever you have anyone in your party, you can push the B button and they will provide commentary. With the exception of the monsters that will only say one or two things, the characters will say something different after every time you speak to someone in a town or when you enter a new room in a dungeon. This helps flesh out the characters you are traveling with. I should note that the Japanese version of Dragon Quest IV also had the party chat feature but that was removed in the North America version (which is a shame because I'm sure your traveling companions in that game had some amusing things to say).

Third, when you get married in the second generation, you receive a choice between three women to wed. The first choice is Bianca, a childhood friend who went on an adventure with you as a child to rescue the first monster you recruit. The second choice is Nera, a shy rich girl who you barely know and falls in love with you right away. The third choice is Deborah, the older sister of Nera who everyone warns not to marry because of her domineering personality. Each of the three wives have a different fighting style and your children's hair color will vary depending on the woman you marry (though the personalities of the two children will remain the same regardless of who you marry).

Fourth, this game has a few mini-games to distract you from the main game. There's the casino that's been a staple in the Dragon Quest since the fourth game that has the slot machines, poker tables, and now slime races (like a horse race only with slimes); the monster arena that's been a staple since the third Dragon Quest where you can bet on which of the monsters in a set will win the battle; a whack-a-mole style game where you can whack slimes with your stylus; the tombola which is similar to the lottery tickets in Dragon Quest II where you can win prizes depending on the colored ball drawn from the revolving drum; and returning from the Gameboy Color version of Dragon Quest III, you have the Pachisi boards (called TnT boards this time), a board game where you can win prizes for clearing the board and while attempting to clear it.

Fifth, after you defeat the demonlord, you unlock another dungeon that contains a few enemies more difficult than ones you encountered in the main game and a boss more difficult than the demonlord that you can battle over and over again. I should note the bonus dungeon is more lackluster than the one in Dragon Quest IV on the DS because it's much shorter and the entire story is resolved after you beat the game whereas the bonus dungeon in Dragon Quest IV is much longer and provided an alternate take on the main story.

Overall, like with Dragon Quest IV for the DS, I would recommend seeking out a copy of this game. I have trouble thinking of any flaws with this, especially when Dragon Quest V (as Nectarsis puts it) is easily one of the best JRPGs ever.