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SummaryVery good at first but becomes really boring as the adventure goes on
The GoodDragon Quest 5 is the 5th game in the Dragon Quest/Warrior series. After 4 games for the NES, Enix moved to the SNES for their 5th instalment. It's also the first to not have been officially translated and released out of japan (until very recently with the NDS remake). This review focuses on the SNES original, not the remake. The remake just happened to be released while I was playing the original - it is just a coincidence.
The main selling point of this game is it's more in-dept story and generation system. You start incarnating a 6-years old child and go on a journey with your father. Without giving much spoilers, after some hours of gameplay major events will occur and you'll gain control of him 10 years later (he's then 16) for the second part of the game, and the third part takes 8 years after that (he's then 24), and you'll have your own children which is great. It's a sense of accomplishment to be able to play the same guy as he grow up, and the story is really enough dept to keep you motivated to continue. The best is at the start of the game when you play as a little kid who don't know to read.
Aside of this, it is pretty much your standard Dragon Quest game. You walk around fight LOTS of monsters, collect money to buy yourself better weapons and armor so you're prepared for the next cave/forest/tower/etc... Nothing ground breaking really. Something I liked is that the battle system is more fast passed than in other Dragon Quest games, because like in DQ1, you only get a smaller window where the enemies show up, it doesn't takes up the entire screen.
A good feature they added in this game is that you're able to recruit monsters ! After a battle, monsters may randomly ask you to join, and you can accept. However, this is not very useful as you can only have 3 members in your party, so no point in collecting 10 monsters or something like that.
Another thing I liked is that this games features a few puzzles, you had to solve them to continue your quest or to get a treasure.
A system which I think is new here (although it is in DW3 GBC, but not in DW3 NES, so it should be new) is that you can collect tiny medals form random places in dungeons. If you have enough medals you can bring them somewhere and exchange them against a reward. Unfortunately, unlike DW3 GBC, you actually exchange your medals which means you won't keep them. So if you claim the lower prices you'll never be able to get the higher prices later which sucks.
The BadWhere to begin ? When I started my quest I was really thinking it was the best Dragon Quest ever made, it was so fun, the battles were more fast paced, and the story, which is usually crap in Dragon Quest games, was good. I did except it to last for the whole game but I had the impression that after a while the game has less and less cutscenes and the story gets less and less interesting, maybe it's just me tough. Something really disappointed me toward the end.
Another big issue I have is that there is only 3 people in the party at a time, even tough a lot more can join. This makes the recruit monsters useful only for the first and second part of the game (which is fun), but for the third part (that I disliked) you already have your children, and you definitely want them to be in your party, so it makes all the others almost useless.
I know this probably applies to the whole Dragon Quest series, but still it makes me mad that 1/2 of games is just spend pressing the A button without thinking. Spells and skills in this game are complete crap and are totally useless, it is even worse than other Dragon Quest games ! The only spells which have any use are healing, resurrecting, and those who boost defense and offense of your party. Any offensive spell will miss most of the time or deal ridiculous damage. And did I say that I HATE this "vivify" spell which has 1/2 chances of resurrecting a character ? The one at Enix that had this idea should be flagellated. Because the game is very long and you have so few things to do in battle, you can bet the game will become tedious and boring after a while.
I know graphics aren't very important in a video games, but they were VERY minimalistic here. They made absolutely no use of the SNES additional features, it really looks like a GBC game when it comes to the quality of graphics, which is not a good thing. Also in battle you see only the enemies, this is really retarded. You don't even see the back of the protagonists. You can catch monsters in your party, but you can't even see them in battle, which sucks.
The music in the Dragon Quest series is usually good, but in this game it really isn't anything noticeable. There is ONE town theme, ONE overworld theme, ONE dungeon theme and ONE tower theme, ONE battle theme and that's all folks. Okay there is a few other songs that are really rarely heard (such as the boss theme). Not only that, but all those musics are not impressive, the battle theme is really terrible and you hear it a lot so this is annoying. The town theme is pretty good but you hear it really way WAY too much. Same for the dungeon theme. The sound effects sounds like they're from the NES (no surprise they never ever changed them even in recent games) but they sound more muffled than on the NES.
The Bottom LineDragon Quest V looks very promising at the first glare with it's cool story and simple yet effective gameplay, but it's only after going halfway trough the game that you'll figure out this game is quite bland, that you're doing nothing but attack enemies again again again and again, and you might become bored of it. Nevertheless it's still a fun game, the mazes, the story and the overall good atmosphere of the game is what saves it from being complete lame. If you're looking for a simple yet fun RPG it will do the work, but it has the same flaws as the whole Dragon Quest games I've player, crappy spells and bad battle system.
I haven't played the NDS remake nor the PS2 remake so I don't know if they are any better than the SNES original, but I bet they're the same minus the atmosphere (like remakes often are), which is not a good thing. At least that's what I found when I played a friend's copy of DQ4 NDS, I found it to be lame and lack the atmosphere it has on the NES. If you have a PS2 I really recommend to play Dragon Quest 8 instead which is way WAY better (by very far best in the series in my opinion), or if you have a NDS maybe you should wait DQ9 and see how good it is. If all you want is collect monsters I suggest you play Dragon Quest Monsters series instead because it's only useful for the first (and the best) part of the game. Anyways since the best part of the game is the start you might as well play it and if you stop playing halfway just know you're not missing much.