#911 Dragon Quest V

Posted: 1st August 2019 by Jeroen in Games
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803rd played so far

Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: SNES
Year of Release: 1992
Developer: Chunsoft
Publisher: Enix

For those of you following along on this: Yes, this is a game release in 1992 with a number that goes far higher than this. When putting the first edition of the 1001 list together, the editors seem to have ordered this game in the position it’d be in for its western release – the 2008 DS version – rather than its original SNES release date. The date was fixed, but it stayed in the wrong place. The second edition fixed this (something that took me a while to discover when trying to figure out the changes in the list), but since we’re sticking with our original order for the numbering, #911 is what we’ve got.

Our Thoughts

It feels like there’s a standard start to the Dragon Quest series, where you leave your village and go to a nearby cave. Somehow I imagine it as always being kids – although that isn’t right – but it feels like there’s that trip, with plenty of slimes in between. There’s a cave like that at the start here, and it felt familiar – together with returning from a long trip and dealing with an absent mother. It soon diverges though, with some odd elements – there’s an odd alternate world or time travel plot that’s introduced (and not resolved based on the Wikipedia description), travel to other (dream?) worlds and other mystical and magical bits.

There’s also a far deeper story than the first game, which just had a standard multiplayer plot. Here, a large chunk of the early story is dedicated to you living in a castle and dealing with a prince, which feels like it sets up a lot of what follows. There’s a lot going on and I should have gotten deeper to really get it, but the story it sets up is interesting enough.

There are some frustrations too, though. Luckily death didn’t feel too punishing, but I ran into trouble several times as my allies just wouldn’t follow orders – they can be quite helpful when it works, but when they jump to just defending as I need healing or other help, it gets annoying.

It meant I missed out on one of the big features – while monster training is a thing, a system they explore in later games in the series and predating Pokemon by several years, I never actually got to see it. I just didn’t really have the time. It seems quite fun, offering quite a twist on the standard “defeat monster” formula that Final Fantasy (especially Final Fantasy VI) explores with its blue mage and other classes, but here it seems to be front and centre instead.

Final Thoughts

This game is genuinely huge – bigger than I can cover with the time I’ve got dedicated to the blog, but tempting to play further when I have the time and can get into the series. The world building and storytelling already feels amazing, characterful and in depth and even if it looks a bit primitive still, it all works well together as long as I can get to tweak the difficulty.

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