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Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride review

A "lost" SNES masterpiece makes an epic return

And while the basic gameplay is the same very straightforward, turn-based RPG setup the series has always used, there are some welcome and surprising changes in the party system too. Unlike in previous and future DQs, you never have a "set" party, thanks to the grand timeline of the story and its many twists. You can never count on a human character to be there for you, so you must put your trust in monsters. By which we mean you need to let them join the party.

As most DQ monsters are cuter than they are imposing, especially the marquee Slime, having monsters fill out empty spaces in your party works fine aesthetically as well as in practice. Your monster squad is totally random, it levels up, learns spells, equips things, all the basics. Only occasionally do beaten monsters end up on your team, which makes the group you cultivate feel earned, personal and unique.

In addition to that ocean of story and gameplay depth, this wouldn't be an AAA-level remake without a ton of extras. Aside from minor new additions to the story (only those who played it before would notice them), several minigames and collectible items in every town will keep you playing even longer. Whether it's Slime races, poker, Whac-A-Mole starring Slimes, or the unbelievably addictive board game T'n'T, there are many exciting ways to fall off the game’s central path.

DQ V is a missing link for western gamers, a step forward in RPG design that, when played now, puts many design choices in later works into perspective. And though current titles have built on its innovations in the years since its release, this advancement in storytelling is still captivating now. The adventure in Dragon Quest V is a history lesson in two ways: not only do you explore the exciting and full life of its hero, but it’s also a look into an important stage in the evolution of RPGs.

Feb 13, 2009

More Info

GenreRole Playing

With the arrival to the west of this SNES classic, play a “missing” link in the evolution of JRPGs.

Franchise nameDragon Quest
UK franchise nameDragon Quest
US censor ratingEveryone 10+
UK censor rating12+
Release date17 February 2009 (US), 20 February 2009 (UK)