Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride
“Japanese RPG”. Not since the words “genital swab” were echoed around a room to a first year university student paying visit to an STI clinic have hearts sunk so quickly, alarm bells chimed furiously, and so many cold shivers been sent down the spine. The very thought of working through any lengthy quest riddled with lazy Eastern cultural clichés and horrendous dialogue written by a caffeine-addled otaku is enough to make many wince.
The problem is pretty simple – the majority are hard-boiled, palm shredding grinds to ‘level up’, something that quickly becomes the game’s primary (and sometimes infuriatingly dull) task. The storylines are about as muddled and clichéd as a Sly Stallone pep talk and they become so vast and expansive that any real interest in what they are about dissipates until the final ten minutes. But with all that said, a gamer of open eyes, a gamer who welcomes change and who’ll happily flirt with the ugly duckling in hope there’s a princess underneath can quite easily take their chances with something like Dragon Quest V.
If the game looks eerily familiar from the screenshots, that’s because it is. Well, very nearly. Square-Enix first released it way back in 17 years ago as Dragon Quest V on the Super Nintendo exclusively in Japan. The title was then updated in 2004 and re-released on the PlayStation 2, then again this month on the DS as the second part of the Zenithia Trilogy. Indeed, as the follow-up to November’s The Chapters of the Chosen there are many aspects that are very similar. Namely: everything. There’s little, if anything, here that hasn’t already been discussed and dissected in previous reviews of Dragon Quest games, with the title feeling more like a lazy renaming than anything else.
The story sees you take on the life of a hero whose mother tragically passes away during childbirth, leaving the mourning father in paternal panic. In his desperation, the hero’s old man, the legendary warrior Pankrez, obviously believes that travelling around the world on a large boat would be the best way to cover-up any painful memories and rear the young lad right. Years later, you return to your home village only to see your father die before you’re forced into a life of slavery. Rebelling, the hero departs on his own great adventure to fight something mystical and come back smelling of roses.
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